Jeb Bush on Disrupting the Education Monopoly

As governor of Florida from 1999 to 2007, Jeb Bush championed school choice. His first year in office he created a program that offered vouchers to students in failing schools. The program successfully boosted student achievement until it was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2006. Two other Bush-supported programs -- one that offers tax credits to business that help send low-income kids to private schools and another that gives vouchers to disabled students -– survived the high-court ruling. Bush also expanded the Florida Virtual School, a national model for online public education.

Since leaving office, Bush has promoted his reform agenda in other states. He founded the Foundation for Excellence in Education and serves as co-chair of the Digital Learning Council.’s Nick Gillespie sat down with Bush at the National Summit on Education Reform in Washington, D.C., to talk about how information technology can help break the education monopoly.

This interview is part of National School Choice Week, an initiative to raise awareness of how competition and choice can transform public education. 

Approximately 6.30 minutes. Filmed by Jim Epstein and Meredith Bragg, and edited by Epstein.  

Go to for downloadable versions and subscribe to's YouTube Channel to receive automatic notification when new material goes live.

For more on the potential for online learning to transform K-12 education, read Katherine Mangu-Ward's "Teachers Unions vs. Online Education" from our August-September 2010 issue.

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    The smart Bush. Wonder where we'd be if he'd been president instead of his brother?

    He weakened as governor towards the end, and he took the wrong position on the whole Schiavo business, but, otherwise, he was quite good as governor. Beat by a long shot Charlie "Hamiltonian Tan" Crist.

  • Brett L||

    Crist was such a fucking weathervane. Its one thing to be lack principles (Jeb was better than most,but imperfect), but to have NO direction other than last night's polls is intolerable. I hope Jeb at least sticks around and talks sense to the elected guys' advisors.

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    I simply could not believe that people would vote Crist into high office. He was transparently worthless long before he even got into the AG's office.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Wonder where we'd be if he'd been president instead of his brother?

    He was a very competent administrator. If he ran for another office, I would have to give some consideration to voting for him, especially if there was no Libertarian in the race.

    Hell, even my lefty (TEAM BLUE!) mother has a fair amount of respect for Jeb Bush.

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    He's actually a fair litmus test for total partisanship (on the left, anyway). Anyone who totally hates him and won't discuss him being in any way a decent governor is an unreasoning party hack. Period.

  • Ghost of elections past||

    Keep in mind that GWB sounded pretty good the first time around (no foreign entanglements, etc, and the other party was even more dismal).

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    No, he didn't. I was appalled that he even got the nomination. He was the beginning of the extra-unqualified candidate trend.

    Again, Jeb is a different story.

  • Tim||

    "America stay out da Bushes!"

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    Yes, I should stress that while Jeb would've been a much better president than his brother, I strongly resist anyone with any real connection to a previous president getting into office. No Jebs, Hillarys, or whatever candidate that name nepotism brings us in lieu of critical selection these days.

  • Tim||

    George the First was always reckoned
    Vile, but viler George the Second.
    And what mortal ever heard
    Any good of George the Third,
    But when from earth the Fourth descended
    God be praised the Georges ended

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    Yes, I agree completely. It's particularly bad with a purely elective office. With somewhere around 100 million viable candidates, I think we can skip voting for someone connected to, what most agree, weren't terribly great presidents, anyway.

  • Ghost of kings past||

    Five wasn't so bad

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    My favorite of the Georges was clearly and definitely Hugh Laurie.

  • Brett L||

    I was in Egypt in May, riding around with a (Coptic) driver who spoke good English. We were coming home from dinner one night and there was this huge rally. When I asked him what was going on, he said: "Political rally. But it doesn't matter. Even if Mubarak retires, one of his sons will just take over."

    I told him we have the same problem in America.

  • Zeb||

    So Obama is GW Bush's son, then. That explains why he won't produce his birth certificate.

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    You may be on to something there.

  • Brett L||

    Conceived during a CIA/Congressional/Oil baron fact-finding trip.

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    Let's do the math. Bush is 64, and Obama is 49, right? So Bush is 15 years older. Clearly, he would've been through puberty at that age, and, as a rich kid, he'd have had the means and the reach to have impregnated Obama's mother. And Obama does slightly resemble the former president.

    I shall provisionally accept this interpretation of the facts.

  • Brett L||

    Oh sorry, I read HW. I thought we were talking half-brothers. Yours is far better. I can totally see W as a 14-yo getting tanked and nailing the questionable cougar at the tiki bar.

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    Oh, for a world where this is true!

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    Brett L, IIANM, Obama's mother was 18 or 19 when he was born. Hardly a cougar.

    When I was 14, there was a whole world full of 18-year-old girls I would have liked to have boinked. Unfortunately, none of them felt the same way. :)

    What cannot be explained is the skin hue that cannot be explained away by exposure to the sun. :)

  • V||

    Maybe Obama's mother was a Kenyan instead of his father?

  • Just one drop!||

    Wait, but then who's obama's real mother?

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    Here's where it gets complicated. . . .

  • Ben P.||

    Obama is Cartman, isn't he?

  • Michael Scott||


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    vouchers are the govt usurping property rights unless the local voters approve transferring local tax monies outta the district.

  • Pip||

    Douche harder.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I don't trust this idea of parents using their education dollar as they see fit. You just know there will be a few out there in the Red States who toss their money solely at a better education for their brats, the selfish fucks.

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    There should be some kind of voucher-reduction system for people with money or associated with a politically disfavored group.

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    I don't trust the government to spend education dollars as they see fit. The bureaucrats may act selfishly and spend the dollars in a way that pushes their own political agenda onto children.

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    That's unpossible! You take that back!

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    "I don't trust this idea of parents using their education dollar as they see fit. You just know there will be a few out there in the Red States who toss their money solely at a better education for their brats, the selfish fucks."

    Why shouldn't they be able to do that? Its their money, which is their property, they should be able to spend it however they want.

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    He was exercising the art of sargasmic irony.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    How do you know Carston wasn't doing the same? He may have just outsarcasmed both of us.

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    One never can tell around here.

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    I was a participant in FLVS (web design course) and other than a few of my AP courses in high school it was one of the best classroom experiences that I had. The pace is set by the student; there are weekly assignments but they can be done in advance or per each week if the student so chooses.

    Regular public school is such a joke. The only reason I'm even considering having my kids attend public school when that day comes is so that I can be the jackass parent at PTA meetings that has a problem with the teachers unions, my child's teacher not knowing how education works, and to debate the science teacher about evolutionary theory.

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    You won't have much to debate -- the Florida teachers I have contact with (at my kid's charter school) aren't that much smarter than the kids they teach. You'd be railing at an unbroken brick wall of vacant looks and, as a result, summarily ignored.

    But yeah, public school is becoming ever more the unfunniest joke ever told. Start saving for private now.

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    Charter Schools are a step up from Lord of the Flies Middle School, but the problem is once you get past the fancy names, clubby atmospheres, and gimmicky curricula, they're only slightly better than an average Publik Skool.

    Worse yet, they provide the Edyucashun Establishment with an easy way to mollify reform-minded parents without acutally giving up any real power or making any real changes.

    IMHO the only way you'll see real school reform is either through a voucher system or complete, outright privatization.

  • NL||

    Best part was when he said "disrupt" the status quo.

    Jeb and Chris Christie are being surprisingly blunt at whom their reform efforts are targeted. Rather than pretending these are merely structural reforms aimed at "the system," they acknowledge that there is an entrenched opposition they want to dethrone.

  • Lucky Pierre||

    Libertarians will do anything to eliminate public education. I can see the future of the LIBERTARIAN PUBLIC SCHOOLS where the people with money can pay to send their kids to quality schools while the niggers and the toothless white trash in this country (that mostly vote republican to their own fatal end) can attend a public school where their kids can sit in front of a black/white TV and watch a video.

    What better way to cut taxes than to just fire every 5th grade public school teacher and replace her with a video.

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    ....attend a public school where their kids can sit in front of a black/white TV and watch a video...

    Righto. Merci beaucoup Pierre. Now we're paying $12K per pupil, and the same thing is happening anyway, except its an LCD flat-panel, not B&W. So yes, what better way, the students can emerge from the public restrooms (sorry, meant public schools) just as ignorant as they do now if we cut them off. entirely

  • Bee Tagger||

    So you're saying the LIBERTARIAN PUBLIC SCHOOL system won't change anything.

    At least we'll save money for the same results, then?

  • Lucky Pierre||

    You won't save ANYTHING. The money not spent on education will go to prisons, war, and israel.

  • Chony to the Max||

    It is an objective fact that all we need to do is use let the Bush tax cuts expire on the rich and institute a modest VAT (say 2%, which will never go up) and spend it on education. Then, education in the US will get dramatically better.

    But, you ideologically impaired 'tarditarians refuse to acknowledge that, and instead insist that we use the market to solve our school problems. Because markets worked perfectly under Bush's libertarian administration.

    So, I'll continue to live in the real world, and you libertards will continue your circle-jerk fantasizing about perfect market solutions that will never be.

  • treads||

    "institute a modest VAT (say 2%, which will never go up)"

    which will never go up? dream on!

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    "objective fact"

    There's this little problem with you and not understanding the meaning of words. Don't blame yourself, you probably went to a public school.

  • WTF||

    You want to spend MORE on education??? Do you already realize that the US spends more on education per student than ANY OTHER COUNTRY IN THE WORLD????? Spending more money on education is just pouring more money into a bottomless pit.

  • WTF||

    You want to spend MORE on education??? Do you already realize that the US spends more on education per student than ANY OTHER COUNTRY IN THE WORLD????? Spending more money on education is just pouring more money into a bottomless pit.

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    Right now I write this during one of my "prep" periods at a public school from which I currently work.

    ITS TIME FOR A FEDERAL INCOME TAX DEDUCTION FOR PRIVATE SCHOOL TUITION FOR ALL PEOPLE! THIS DEDUCTION SHOULD BE FOR AT LEAST $15,000.00 (the approximate average per pupil expenditure for an average public school).

  • Karl Priest||

    As a retired public school teacher I am convinced that our only hope is to rescue our children from the public (government) schools and raise a godly generation. Please see "Call to Dunkirk" at Public schools cannot be redeemed. Saying we should not abandon them is like saying the passengers of the Titanic should have stayed aboard because the band was playing good music and the captain was a good man.

    Please also see

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    Great. @Karl Priest would have us back in about 100 a.d.

    Bow down and WORSHIP, you infidel, or you die.

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    We had a growing economy through 2007 with Bush. We got through the recession from the tech bubble and 9/11 with Bush. With Obama we have a record deficit, increased unemployment, and the world is laughing at us.
    Jeb Bush was a good governor.

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