Jeb Bush served as the 43rd governor of Florida from 1999 to 2006. His administration championed high expectations and digital learning that resulted in big academic gains for low-income learners. 

After leaving office, he formed the Foundation for Excellence in Education, ExcelinEd, a national nonprofit organization focused on state education policy. ExcelinEd continues the important work that Bush championed in Florida. 

In 2010, Bush launched Digital Learning Now, a policy road map for the future of education. With his co-chair former West Virginia Governor Bob Wise, an all-star group of 100 advisors was formed, and after 100 conversations in 100 days, a policy platform for the future was unveiled.

The 10 point platform stressed access to personalized digital learning for all students including take-home devices and broadband for all teachers and learners. States and school districts that followed Digital Learning Now advice have been serving students well and were well prepared when the pandemic closed schools. 

As Governor Wise frequently pointed out, America faces an achievement gap, a teacher gap, and a financial gap. These gaps can only be closed by expanding access to learning online and by encouraging schools to incorporate the best of online and on-site learning.

The Digital Learning Now report outlined the 10 Elements of High Quality Digital Learning and the associated actions required of state legislators and policymakers:

  1. Student Eligibility: All students are digital learners.
  2. Student Access: All students have access to high-quality digital content and online courses.
  3. Personalized Learning: All students can customize their education using digital content through an approved provider.
  4. Advancement: Students progress based on demonstrated competency.
  5.  Content: Digital content, instructional materials, and online and blended learning courses are high quality.
  6. Instruction: Digital instruction and teachers are high-quality.
  7. Providers: All students have access to multiple high-quality providers.
  8. Assessment and Accountability:  Student learning is the metric for evaluating the quality of content and instruction.
  9. Funding: Funding creates incentives for performance, options, and innovation.
  10. Delivery: Infrastructure supports digital learning.

After releasing the Digital Learning Now policy framework, ExcelinEd released annual scorecards for each state on their level of digital opportunity.  

States and districts that followed DLN guidance offered great opportunities for learners and were well-prepared remote learning during the pandemic. For example, the big Florida districts including Broward and Dade, had robust online and blended programs and moved quickly and efficiently to remote learning. (See Episode 255, a conversation with Broward CAO Dan Gohl.)  

We appreciate Governor Bush’s leadership on digital and competency-based learning. Listen in as Tom talks to Governor Bush about the infrastructure needed to support personalized and digital learning. 

Key Takeaways:
[1:31] Jeb Bush shares his take on the current impact COVID-19 is having on the world.
[4:19] The silver lining from massive disruption.
[5:21] How only two months into the school closures the benefits of digital learning have been made apparent.
[5:55] How Jeb Bush’s early views on education were formed, what he learned from visiting schools across America, and how he began to appreciate how technology could assist in serving children (in regards to education) better.
[8:49] How Florida’s biggest districts have weathered this crisis through Jeb’s leadership, his team, and their partnerships.
[13:32] Going in the ‘Wayback machine,’ Jeb reflects on how the conversation between him and Tom about developing a new education policy framework came about in 2010.
[15:56] About the Getting Through microsite.
[16:34] Why Digital Learning Now’s first three of the ‘10 Elements of High-Quality Digital Learning’ (1. Student Eligibility 2. Student Access and 3. Personalized Learning) are especially relevant and important today.
[18:17] Important, key elements of a high-quality education system (from DLN’s 10 elements): 5. Quality Content 6. Quality Instruction 7. Quality Choice 8. Assessment and Accountability.
[20:26] Why this idea of ‘students progress based on demonstrated competency’ is so important to Jeb and ExcelinEd.
[23:52] Challenges with the existing education system.
[26:19] The progress regarding infrastructures supporting digital learning.
[28:28] What’s next for ExcelinEd.
[30:37] Tom thanks Jeb for joining the Getting Smart podcast!

Mentioned in This Episode:
Jeb Bush
The Foundation for Excellence in Education (ExcelinEd)
Digital Learning Now
The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes — and Why, by Amanda Riple
Florida Virtual School
GettingSmart.com/GettingThrough
Digital Learning Now’s 10 Elements of High-Quality Digital Learning

For more see 


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