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Former Gov. Jeb Bush Headlines Denver ACE Luncheon with Inspiring Message

Has it been a whole year since the last big ACE Scholarships luncheon? Funny. I was still 5 then, too. Last time around it was my edu-reform crush Michelle Rhee, only a few months out of her famous tenure as chancellor of D.C. Public Schools, explaining her change of heart about vouchers and praising Douglas County’s choice scholarship program.

The 2012 edition of the ACE Scholarships luncheon featured Foundation for Excellence in Education board chair Jeb Bush sounding the call for more choice as a catalyst to his winning education reform formula. His successful track record as Florida governor from 1999 to 2006 is tied to his focused and comprehensive approach to education reform.

But as Governor Bush famously has said time and time again in various forms, “Reform is never finished because success is never final.” Therefore, the theme of his Denver speech yesterday was focused on the future, as reported by Ed News Colorado:

After reciting a list of discouraging education statistics, the Florida governor said, “Yet we quietly sit back and say there’s all sorts of reasons why this is happening. We can’t do anything about it. … You’ve heard it all over and over, and the complacency overwhelms us to the point where now I would say this more than any of the other great structural challenges we face in our nation puts us at risk of being a nation in decline.”

Bush continued, “We need to make this a national priority, not necessarily a federal government priority … but a national priority, and the path to make this happen, in my opinion, is to make it something of great national purpose and focus on a formula of success.”

That formula, he said, includes:

  • Parental engagement
  • Higher standards
  • “I’m-not-kidding accountability based on student achievement”
  • Customized learning
  • “Reform of the teaching profession where great teachers are rewarded and bad teachers are asked to leave the classroom” (to applause)

A simple and straightforward formula, yet profoundly important and full of real challenges to bring to life. The kind of work here in Colorado in which my Education Policy Center friends remain engaged. Kudos to ACE Scholarships — one of the great scholarship organizations featured on the fabulous School Choice for Kids website — for bringing Governor Bush to town to share his inspiring vision. We wish both their foundations well as they continue their great work, too.