The New Hampshire Education Summit, hosted by The Seventy Four and the American Federation for Children, provided a rare opportunity to hear about six presidential candidates’ views about education reform in a more in-depth and focused way, as education is sadly not usually the headline topic during election cycles. Below are some thoughts on their interviews:
Since Jeb Bush has spent much of his hiatus from elected office in the education reform world, it was unsurprising that he gave a true wonk’s performance during yesterday’s summit. The former Florida governor talked about his record in Florida, touting his reforms such as A-F school grading, merit pay for teachers, the voucher program (stuck down by the Florida Supreme Court), and the largest tax credit scholarship program in the nation, which CER ranked near the best in the country last year. He pointed to the innovative Florida Virtual School, and the potential shift towards content-mastery rather than seat time as a measurement for educational attainment. The governor also pointed to the results of his reforms, including an increase in NAEP scores and narrowing of achievement gaps between racial and socioeconomic categories.
Gov. Bush said he was “tired” of hearing people blame poor academic achievement on “the circumstances of life” rather than on a failed system.
Florida ranks #2 on CER’s Parent Power Index.
Because her private sector background differs from those of the other candidates at the summit (all current or former governors with concrete education records to point to), Carly Fiorina took the opportunity to introduce summit attendees to her education reform principles. She focused on the purpose and necessity of an excellent education system for the United States, both as a republic and in global competition.
Fiorina pointed to the importance of character and other non-academic factors. Interestingly, many charter