"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Jeb Bush and the International Education Arms Race

Yesterday, Jeb Bush and the Foundation for Excellence in Education hosted their Second Annual National Summit on Education Reform. "I think there's a changing dynamic about what's happening [in education]," said Dubya's little brother. "I also applaud President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan's commitment to education reform. To me, it's the place where you could pick where President Obama has shown the most dynamic nature of his policies - and I'm very excited about it."
The junior Bushie made some other noteworthy comments yesterday. Here's a rundown of some of Jeb's other remarkable statements (from Dara Kama at PostOnPolitics):

“I wish our schools could be more like milk. You heard me, I said milk,” a copy of Bush’s speech reads. “Go down the aisle of nearly any major supermarket these days and you will find an incredible selection of milk.

“You can get whole milk, low fat milk or skim milk. You can get organic milk, milk with Vitamin D or milk enzymes to improve you the way your brain functions.

“You can get flavored milk — chocolate, strawberry or vanilla – that doesn’t even taste like milk. Most of the time, there is a whole other refrigerator case dedicated to milk alternatives – like soy milk, almond milk and rice milk. They even make milk for people who can’t drink milk.

“Who would have ever thought you could improve upon milk? Yet, freedom, innovation and competition found a way.”

Education should be more like milk, muses Dubya's little brother, not because it's nourishing; education should borrow from milk's array of different choices - all accomplished, of course, through market-based logic and reforms.
In the end, it's quite clear Jebby boy is most interested in bashing education until it can be marketed, privatized, and, eventually, even turned over to nonprofits, religious (i.e. Christian) schools, and private corporations like Imagine Schools or Edison Learning. President Obama's reform agenda, which has become only clearer and drearier since the December appointment of Duncan, is sufficiently based in free-market principles for the Bush family to endorse; the heavy dose of "no excuses" pedagogical approaches whereby social issues are privatized and thrust upon children forced to live in poverty, the wholesale commitment of government to lube the market for corporations (in this case, charters and their Wendy Kopp/Michelle Rhee-inspired nonprofits churning out illprepared neophytes), and steadfast refusal to address the social an economic circumstances that simply must be remedied if we're to craft a public school system capable of serving all children. Education, Jeb says, is where President Obama has shown "the most dynamic nature of his policies." Call me crazy, but Jeb's support of the current administration's policies should be reason enough to continue critiquing, criticizing, and speaking out against questionable education reform proposals.

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