Probably the best state for Colorado or any other to look to as a model in education reform is Florida. Education reform was the primary focus of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush during his eight-year tenure, and he was able to make progress on many fronts. The remarkable success yielded by years of systematic advances in school choice, accountability, standards, and teacher pay makes the Sunshine State worthy of emulation:
Government-gathered data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) show that Florida has outpaced Colorado and the national average in nearly every measure of math and reading proficiency.
In that light, it was important that Heritage Foundation education policy analyst Dan Lips was able to sit down and interview Jeb Bush (H/T Matt Ladner) at a recent education reform summit in Orlando. Here are a few key excerpts of Bush’s remarks from the interview transcribed at National Review Online:
We need all schools — here in Florida and in 49 other states — to get better for our country’s future. The only way to improve student performance is through continual and perpetual reform of education. America needs a 21st century education system for a 21st century world….
Raising standards, measuring progress, grading school performance, providing educational options and targeting resources to reward success and reverse failure are all tools that are transforming schools and raising student achievement.
However, success is never final. I hope we never stop trying to implement more innovative and audacious reforms….
I also believe we need to better apply free-market principles to the way we deliver education in order to improve the entire system. We should expand educational options so all parents can make the best choices for their children. Teachers and principals should be paid based on performance. Educators that teach subjects with a shortage of teachers, teach in low-performing schools or carry increased responsibilities should be paid more. We should also give merit pay to teachers based on student learning gains and other objective measures….
People from across the ideological spectrum can agree that improving the quality of education for students from every background, from pre-K through high school, is the great challenge of our time. We need to put partisan rhetoric aside and work together to raise student achievement through reforms that produce measurable results.
Go and read the whole thing. For the sake of myself and other kids, too, it would be great if Colorado could have a leader as bold, articulate, and visionary as Jeb Bush.