Jeb Bush was the best education governor of the last decade.  With chief Jim Horne, Bush laid out the best version of gap-closing standards and accountability with choice expanding charters and virtual course options.  He’s updated and extended his impact since leaving office in 2007 through the Excellence in Action summits.  Bush gets the innovation agenda as well at Tom Friedman, he appreciates the importance of state leadership as well as Jim Hunt, and he shares his wisdom with the zeal of Tony Robbins.

Secretary Duncan closed the 2010 summit this afternoon with his standard (but disturbing) opening:

-Our students are growing up in a globally competitive marketplace;

-US achievement levels in math and science lag most OECD counties;

-We lose nearly 1 million kids each year to the streets when young people without a diploma are locked out of the employment market; and

-The US is flatlined in college completion.

Duncan reiterated President Obama’s education moon shot—by 2020 the US needs to lead the work in college completion—a 50% increase.

He outlined Race to the Top and related efforts to improve educator effectiveness and turnaround low performing schools.  Arne noted that over 700 schools in 44 states have funded turn around efforts underway (unfortunately most of these are district led ‘transformations’ that will fall short of that aspiration).

Duncan added a new closing by mentioning three big levers going forward:

1. Technology has transformed how we interact socially and how we work, but not how we teach.  The ‘new normal’ requires that we use technology to become more productive.  This was a short version of his AEI productivity speech.  Duncan missed the opportunity to plug Digital Learning Now—the blueprint for the future released right before his speech.

2. Labor contracts: There are 8-10 good models of new productive bargains that should be copied.  The Department will host labor/management conference to explore strategies for accelerating progress in labor agreements.  (He’s more optimistic about this than I am.)

3. Federal policy: NCLB gave us gap-closing disaggregated data but a set of unintended consequences that Duncan would like to fix with the reauthorization of ESEA (He’s more optimistic about this than I am).

Duncan and team get credit for using 5% of the stimulus for supersized results and for making the strongest case ever for the new employment bargain.  But I’m afraid he won’t get his reauthorization.  He’ll need to rely on RttT momentum and the leadership of 29 new governors.  It helps that many of the new republicans are getting schooled by Jeb Bush.

Related: EdWeek summary of Duncan speech

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