“The right to rise” may be the most important and underappreciated American asset. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush opened his keynote at the ASU Education Innovation Summit (#eisummit) with this reflection on the distinctly American aspiration.
“With a good education and hard work, almost anyone can achieve anything in America.”
But, “We’re not doing good enough job; only a third of U.S. students graduate college and/or career ready.” Bush made four recommendations to address educational shortcomings.
1. Raise expectations for our students. Common Core expectations are higher and more focused than existing standards – benchmarked to the world. Drawing conclusions from relevant text is a key skill and is central to Common Core standards and will be central to new state tests.
But Bush sees a coming train wreck, “In a few years it will be clear that most of our students are not adequately prepared for college and there will be enormous pressure to pull back.” Lofty standards assessed accurately makes more sense than 50 different expectations.
2. Hold schools accountable. The Florida school grading system is simple and effective. Eight states have copied the effort to support improvement in performing schools and recognize achievement in high performing schools. Florida doesn’t tolerate mediocrity, and intervenes in the case of chronic failure.
Florida has rapidly expanded new options including online learning. Florida Virtual School will offer more than 300,000 courses this year.
The combination has worked. Florida is now in the top ten of NAEP. Florida’s African American and Hispanic students outscore those in most other states.
3. Reward great teachers and remove bad teachers. Great teachers develop great students. Many studies have shown that a string of ineffective teachers is an academic disaster for low income students. Florida has moved to a performance-oriented teacher evaluation and employment system. Florida pays teachers more in high demand specialties and those that work in low performing schools.
4. Harness technology. “Technology has transformed how we live and play and will transform how we learn.” Learning is becoming “customized and personalized so that each student can maximize their God-given potential.” Bush said, “There is no reason for any student to be bored.” He anticipates that edtech has the potential to save billions in lost productivity. “This is the tool that will get further faster than anything else.”
Bush was the best education governor of the last decade. He continues his education leadership by chairing the Foundation for Excellent Education which supports high impact projects including and Digital Learning Now and Chiefs for Change.