Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush could be one of the biggest losers in the resignation of Florida Education Commissioner Tony Bennett, according to Kathleen McGrory in the Tampa Bay Times.
Bush was instrumental in bringing Bennett to Florida from Indiana, and remained a firm supporter, even after allegations of grade fixing. Bennett’s departure could be another black eye for Bush, who devoted five years pushing education reform, featuring the A-to-F grading system similar to the Indiana model.
Tea Party groups have been critical of Bush’s education reforms, and he could pay a high political price for backing Bennett, even as talk escalates of a possible 2016 presidential run.
Right now, Bush sits firmly in the middle of the polls of likely names for the 2016 Republican presidential candidate. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie leads, followed by Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, according to a overview of national polling by RealClearPolitics.com.
Bush’s focus on education policy began around 1994. He created that year the Foundation for Florida’s Future, an education think tank, after losing the race for Florida governor. Two years later, Bush was a key player in introducing the state’s first charter school in urban Miami.
Recently, though, Bush might be starting to lose his “magic touch” with education.
The Foundation could not get the “parent trigger” bill passed, which would have forced low-performing schools to change based on parental demands. In addition, the state established a “safety net” to prevent schools from dramatically dropping grades. Another setback is the increasing conflict over Common Core standards.
Some legislators see Bush’s education initiatives as “unraveling.”
Now that his educational ideas about national curriculum standards are facing opposition from both sides of the aisle, the consequences for Bush’s political future could be in jeopardy. Bennett’s resignation didn’t help him there, either.