Review: Jeb Bush's education foundation makes unsupported claims, ignores facts to push agenda
EAST LANSING, Mich. (June 30, 2011) — Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's so-called education reforms that he's pushing through presentations to state lawmakers rest on unsupported claims and hand-picked evidence, according to a new academic review released today.
Bush's presentation, "Florida's Formula for Student Achievement," was reviewed for the Think Twice think tank review project by William J. Mathis, managing director of Colorado-Boulder's National Education Policy Center (NEPC). The review was produced by the NEPC with funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.
Released under the banner of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, the Bush presentation claims that six "reforms" — assigning simplistic letter grades to schools; high-stakes testing; imposing new graduation requirements; bonus pay for teachers; alternative teacher credentialing; and schools of choice —caused gains in fourth-grade reading scores in Florida.
Instead of a comprehensive and objective consideration of the impact of Florida's policies, Bush's presentation "is clearly an advocacy tool designed for advancing a particular set of reform proposals," Mathis wrote in his review. This has resulted in a misleading presentation, with Bush promoting several policies that reputable research has shown to be ineffective or even harmful.
"Fundamentally, Mr. Bush's presentation is based on the fallacious causal claim that his selected set of loosely coupled reforms introduced in Florida between 1992 and 2011 caused fourth-grade reading score gains," Mathis wrote in his review. "No evidence is provided to sustain this linkage. Further, this claim ignores the fact that some of the favored reforms were implemented as late as 2010, and some are not yet implemented."
Moreover, Bush's presentation resembles and shares graphics with a report by the Heritage Foundation, a right-wing think tank whose report has been repackaged for various states. The Heritage report's lead author is now on Bush's staff.
Policymakers should ignore Bush's salesmanship and look instead to solid, objective research evidence, Mathis said.
Find Mathis' review and a link to Bush's presentation at http://www.greatlakescenter.org.
Bush's Michigan presentation is available from the review's author. A similar PowerPoint presentation from Mr. Bush is available on the web at:
The Think Twice think tank review project, a project of the National Education Policy Center, provides the public, policy makers and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. The project is made possible in part by the support of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.
The mission of the Great Lakes Center is to improve public education for all students in the Great Lakes region through the support and dissemination of high quality, academically sound research on education policy and practices.