Florida’s gap closing strategies caught the attention of gubernatorial candidates of both parties.  With Jim Horne as chief, Bush pushed hard to make school accountability effective and transparent.  I don’t think any other governor did done more to advance school improvement or gap closing strategies, and now as the education mentor to newly elected governors we can trace Jeb’s influence to a dozen states.

Sean Cavanagh,in a thoughtful EdWeek article, outlines Jeb Bush’s expanding influence in American education:

In state capitals across the country, numerous lawmakers and officeholders say they are determined to follow the ambitious and often polarizing education blueprint fashioned by Mr. Bush, a Republican, during his two terms as Florida’s governor. Many conservatives specifically cite Mr. Bush, who chairs a foundation that seeks to explain and expand his Florida model, as the intellectual architect of policies to support vouchers and charter schools, improved and more aggressive testing, and school grading systems, which they hope to replicate.

and:

Not long after leaving office, he launched the Foundation for Excellence in Education, headquartered in Tallahassee, Fla. It lists as one of its main goals helping governors, legislators, and others pursue policy changes in areas such as improving the use of data, teacher effectiveness, and school choice. He also chairs another group, the Foundation for Florida’s Future, which focuses on a similar education agenda in his home state, specifically.

Bush understands what makes a good school today and sees the power of technology to leverage great teachers and create powerful new options for families.  When I met with him in June, he had a very clear picture of a set of 10 recommendations for state policy makers.  Six months later, with help from Gov. Bob Wise and about 100 advisors, Jeb delivered those recommendations in a report called Digital Learning Now at his annual conference.  This report will help guide the next decade of learning as the U.S. transitions from print to personal digital learning.

As an advocate and mentor, Jeb Bush is quietly and efficiently shaping the future of American education.

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Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is author of Smart Parents, Smart Cities and Getting Smart. He is co-founder of Getting Smart and Learn Capital and serves on the boards of 4.0 Schools, eduInnovation, Digital Learning Institute, Imagination Foundation, Charter Board Partners and Bloomboard. Follow Tom on Twitter, @tvanderark.

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