Well, no, not really. While he was governor, Jeb Bush and I had one short e-mail exchange, about a disability policy issue. That’ll prove disappointingly mundane if it’s in the cache of emails that Bush’s office has already released or will soon be releasing.
But I do have a written record of comments on Jeb Bush as an education policymaker. An incomplete list of relevant blog entries:
- Conspiracy theories and NCLB (5/16/2006)
- Bright Futures: an out-of-control entitlement program that conservative Republicans created (2/23/2008)
- Is Jeb Bush stuck in fourth grade? (1/4/2011)
- Jeb Bush, Distance Learning, and the Hype Cycle (10/19/2011)
- Florida’s increasing high school graduation rate (12/1/2012)
- Non-profit as trade association? (Bush foundation allegations) (1/21/2013)
And some non-blog items (ignoring news articles where I was a minor source):
- Two briefs in the 2004 Reform Florida set of briefs that reside on the National Education Policy Center website.
- Kathy Borman and I edited Education Reform in Florida (2007), which contained a number of chapters about Bush’s first term. (The historical chapters I coauthored were about a longer timeframe.)
- Some passages in Accountability Frankenstein
- A 2010 Q&A with Valerie Strauss
- A snarky comment on an Inside Higher Ed op-ed written by Bush and Randy Best.
I’ve spoken with a few reporters since Bush started moving towards a presidential campaign, and in case I am quoted in any story, I don’t think any of my comments on education policy should be a surprise.
I haven’t spoken that much about Bush as a politician or his political prospects. For the record, I disagree with George Will and others who think that the Common Core will present a significant barrier for Bush to the GOP nomination. That’s small potatoes in the larger fight over donations and delegates. The only incumbent state chief state school officers who lost political contests with Common Core as an issue were Tony Bennett in Indiana (2012) and John Huppenthal in Arizona (2014). In Indiana, a bipartisan coalition tackled Bennett, and in Arizona, Huppenthal shot himself in the foot with online sock puppetry. In neither case is it clear that Common Core was the primary issue, and those were in races where education is the only relevant issue. Bush may lose a few delegates because of his education policy positions, but he will lose a few more on immigration, and not too many in any case.
For allegations about both Common Core and Bush’s foundations, I advocate being skeptical. Emails about Patricia Levesque and other Bush foundation staff members may make you blanche if you’re naive about politics and sausage-making, but I’ve never seen Bush go further than make stupid mistakes in legal or political matters, and all politicians do that occasionally. Jeb Bush is a social conservative who was an activist governor, fought to reduce taxes on Florida’s wealthiest residents, pushed privatization in several areas of government, generally turned a blind eye to problems of privatization in Florida, and would do the same in Washington. He does not generally talk with policy adversaries, and that will likely lead to tin-ear syndrome for at least a few months (or his entire administration) if he becomes president. But that’s different from allegations of open corruption.
Keep your shirt on is good general advice when looking at the Jeb Bush record; he is generally who he claims to be.