E-mails Show Jeb Bush Foundation Pushing School “Choice” Benefited Corporate Donors

Put this in the “obvious” file. Jeb Bush’s “Foundation for Excellence in Education” has according to emails obtained by In the Public Interest pushed school “choice” initiatives that directly benefit the corporate contributors that fund its policy initiatives. As the report describes Bush’s foundation has had an ALEC like influence in pushing state legislators to pass various versions of school “choice” and other dangerous educational initiatives.

What follows is from  the ITPI webpage on Florida


“Florida Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson and Department of Education staff called on Patricia Levesque, CEO of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, and her team on several occasions to craft policy on school grading, No Child Left Behind waivers, charter schools, and digital learning. Levesque and Robinson seem to consult on many matters: Levesque gave him her cell phone number and he emailed her to review documents with him to help him prepare for meetings.”

FCAT:


“FEE weighed in on legislation that would count the state test, known as FCAT, as more than 50 percent of the state’s school accountability measure. Levesque wrote to a state official that she had negotiated the related language with state legislators, who were now “asking for the following which, the Foundation completely supports: FCAT shall be ‘at least 50%, but no more than 60%’ of a high school’s grade.” Pearson, the company that holds the $250 million FCAT contract and sponsors FEE through its foundation, could stand to gain if the FCAT continues to be at the center of Florida’s education accountability system. Later, Levesque provides updates on the status of legislation, relaying to Robinson concerns about the exclusion of some of the Foundation’s favored language in the bill. She says it was excluded because “the department could not explain the issue to them (Senator Montford or the Florida Association of District School Superintendents) when they were discussing the bill.” Levesque reports that Foundation staff met with the Superintendents to explain it and they agreed to compromise language which the Foundation would support and push to get included in the Senate version of the bill.

Charter Schools:
“FEE staff weighed in on two types of legislation that might benefit Charter Schools USA, an FEE funder. In addition to sending an invitation to the state board of education to attend a press conference in support of parent trigger legislation, FEE staff was very much involved in legislation affecting the state’s school turnaround procedures, which include converting some neighborhood schools to charter schools. Robinson emailed Levesque in December 2011 to review the Department of Education’s Differentiated Accountability Draft Legislation. Levesque writes, “I think we need to add a sec onto this bill to give you/the department authority to set a state‐approved list of charter operators or private providers so districts can’t pick poor performers to implement turnaround. Also, you/State Board should have more authority to enforce a strict timeline for turnaround models.2” If Charter Schools USA, the for-profit operator, were included on the “state approved list,” it could improve the company’s growth potential.”

Foundation for Excellence in Education “Scholarships” :
“The Foundation gave “scholarships” to pay for Florida Department of Education staffers to attend the Foundation’s annual summit. The only requirement of these “scholarships”— presumably funded by the Foundation’s corporate donors–seems to be that a person work in the state education department. When the Department of Education emailed the Foundation asking, “Also, why do you think I was told that I could register Mike Kooi as a scholarship recipient?” the Foundation responded, “He was awarded the scholarship because he is an employee in the Florida Department of Education, and because of his close work with the Commissioner.” The Scholarship paid for registration, including five meals; up to three nights lodging; and reimbursement of travel expenses included round‐trip coach airfare and up to $250 for incidentals.”

Much much more including documentation in the entire report on Florida at:

http://www.inthepublicinterest.org/node/2741

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3 thoughts on “E-mails Show Jeb Bush Foundation Pushing School “Choice” Benefited Corporate Donors

  1. well well cannot say I am shocked but still where is the media on this? They let Jeb get away with murder!

  2. The mainstream press needs to go to town on this. He is the great white hope for the GOP right now a self promoting fraud who is more responsible for the disrespect given to teachers and public education around the country.

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