Sunday, December 09, 2012

Another "mini-Jeb"? Really?

As Florida continues to suck "the exhaust of perennial academic also-rans Alabama and Mississippi", Florida's media companies likewise continue to push Jeb Bush retreads as the "solution" to Florida's education difficulties.

Last month, Orlando Sentinel columnist Beth Kassab declared that, when it comes to Florida's education commissioner,

Everybody has an eye on Tony Bennett ["the Jeb Bush of Indiana"], the shake-'em-up reformer with an impressive list of accomplishments as Indiana's top education chief. He lost his re-election bid earlier this month — and Indiana lost its place as a reform leader — in an upset by a veteran teacher and union leader.
However, as we queried in response to that column,
Really, Beth? Do we really need another mini-"Jeb!" running Florida's education system into the ground? A failed Republican who could not keep his seat in a Republican "stronghold" like Indiana?

And, although "Jeb!" is running as fast as he can away from his Indiana flop, the fact is that Indiana's repudiation of Tony Bennett was a flat out electoral rejection of Jebbie and his "reform" freak show. Although

many states have borrowed from Bush’s education agenda, few have embraced it as fully as Indiana. Superintendent-elect Glenda Ritz’s supporters say these policies — A-F grading for schools, teacher evaluations, performance based pay, expansive voucher programs and expanded charter school options — are why Bennett lost earlier this month.
"Jeb Bush On Tony Bennett’s Defeat: ‘It’s Not My Education Agenda’".

More: "Glenda Ritz Unseats Tony Bennett In ‘Referendum’ On Indiana Education Policy". See also "Incumbent Superintendent Tony Bennett Concedes Race To Ritz" ("Bennett had been a critical force in moving forward education priorities of Gov. Mitch Daniels’ administration: school voucher programs, merit pay for teachers and expansion of charter schools, policies many teachers criticize.")

"Oh no . . . Not another mini-"Jeb!" (scroll down).

But Ms. Kassab is at it again, in the context of "Common Core"*. She initially demonstrates her Jebian bona fides with this silly remark:

Teachers actually like Common Core. And, for the most part, the unions like it too.
Really, Beth, are you suggesting there is a difference between "teachers" and "teachers unions"?

Folks like Jeb Bush (and apparently Kassab) want us to believe that "unions" dropped out of the sky to force workers - in this case teachers - to read little red books and speak together in groups (err ... evil "collectives").

Sorry, Beth, there ain't a whole lot of ("Red Dawn") drama here: "teachers unions" are just "teachers" who get together and elect fellow "teachers" to speak for them at the bargaining table (where, by the way, school boards have complete and unilateral authority to determine all terms of their "contracts" with "teachers")**

That aside, Kassab's larger and continuing point is just this - Florida needs more Jebbiness. She writes today that

Odds are pretty good — excellent, in fact — that Tony Bennett will be Florida's next education commissioner.

When it comes to school reform, Bennett was the Jeb Bush of Indiana and has a resume long on Florida-inspired changes he pushed on the Hoosiers to show for it.

Bennett was fired by the people of Indiana last month as that state's elected education chief. He lost the election to a veteran teacher and union leader who ran against him. . . .

[H]e didn't get the union vote. He was attacked by teachers for changes to collective bargaining rights and his advocacy for charter schools and vouchers. . . .

Bennett, who started out as a biology teacher and basketball coach, described his relationship with Bush, who usually gets his way when it comes to political battles on education in Florida, as "very strong."

Bennett serves as chairman of Chiefs for Change, an organization closely affiliated with Bush's Foundation for Excellence in Education.

"Common Core should be priority for next education commissioner".

So, does Florida really need Indiana loser Bennett - a mere "mini-Jeb" - as its next education commissioner? Well, six years after Jeb Bush stepped down, after eight years of rule, Florida is still sucking "the exhaust of perennial academic also-rans Alabama and Mississippi". Any questions?

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* Kassab explains "Common Core" this way: "Common Core means that instead of teaching a small amount about a lot of things, teachers will teach more about fewer things. Students should come away with a deeper knowledge about what's important. For example, research has shown that understanding fractions is critical to understanding algebra. So Common Core calls for fifth graders to spend more time learning fractions."

** Kassab's comrade, Scott Maxwell, once put it this way:

Florida has one of the worst-funded school systems in America.

Compounding the problem is the contempt Republican legislators have for teachers. That's right — teachers.

Sure, they'll try to tell you they just hate the unions. But who do you think comprises the union? It's your son's math instructor, your daughter's music teacher — and their soccer coach.

Underpaid educators have become the enemy.

In fact, the overall demonization of the working class is one of corporate America's most successful coups within the GOP — a party that once championed the rights of the common man.

Nowadays, union-bashing isn't simply a plank in the GOP platform; it's the foundation.

"For teacher pay, unions and union-haters should compromise".