Jeb Bush on Disrupting the Educational Status Quo

"Monopolies don't want to have direct competition."


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 boosted student achievement until it was struck down by the Florida Supreme Court in 2006. Two other Bush-supported programs—one that offers tax credits to businesses that help send low-income kids to private schools and another that gives vouchers to disabled students—survived the court's ruling.

Bush also expanded the Florida Virtual School, a national model for online public education. Since leaving office, Bush has founded the Foundation for Excellence in Education and serves as co-chairman of the Digital Learning Council. For a video version of the interview, go to

reason: What is at the very top of your education reform list? 

Jeb Bush: Applying digital learning as a transformative tool to disrupt the public education system, to make it more child-centered, more customized, more robust, more diverse, and more exciting. 

reason: What is the biggest obstacle to implementing digital learning? 

Bush: Digital learning right now is viewed as an adjunct; it's like a whiteboard and a computer in the classroom. You pay for it out of a separate fund; it's not viewed as a core issue of learning. It's viewed as a peripheral, and as such it always has the challenges of funding.

It's that way for a reason. Monopolies don't want to have direct competition. Imagine a repository of a thousand quality courses that moms and dads and teachers could access—imagine how you share the pricing of that.

(Interview continues after video.)

reason: It can't be done, right? There's no model for that anywhere online or in any school. 

Bush: It exists on the margins. Everything exists. I mean, this is what reason teaches us, that markets work and monopolies resist that. If you're a high school and you get $7,000 per student, you have six credits. Divide 7,000 by 6, you would get $1,300. $1,300 for that geometry class split between the providers of the content, the classroom teacher, and the administration around that teacher could easily be handled. It would create higher quality, huge-scale opportunities where you could lower costs. 

reason: What is next for you? 

Bush: I want to be a catalyst to try and find ways for great ideological fights to be fought. I'd like for education to be a place where ideology doesn't drive the decisions, but.…

reason: …does inform the debate.

Bush: …informs the debate, but is focused. I think a liberal could support systemic change. School choice in the '60s was a creature of the left, not of the right. It makes no sense for me to think that you have the left supporting an unsustainable system and the right not focusing on rising student achievement as a higher priority but just focusing on local control being the dominant feature. We need to get the debate beyond that, and I hope to play a role in that. 

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  1. No more dynastics of any kind, please.

  2. Hey Jeb! I’m in Florida and struggling with less than acceptable public schools for my small children. If you’d like some help moving to a 100% voucher program, I’m here!

    Also, I’d love a resource for evaluating schools. Every resource I’ve seen shows results like average test scores. And surprise, surprise: the best schools have the whitest, richest demographics. Hmm… seems we have a nature/nurture problem.

    Are the best schools by reputation really any better than average, or is it just the parents and students that are better? Is there any way to tell if one school is better at reaching a child’s potential than another?

    I’d rather send my kids to a school that will take them to their full potential than have them in a school that happens to have a bunch of better students conglomerated in one place.

    The two ideas are not mutually exclusive, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that just because bright kids attend a school that they became bright from attending that school.

  3. reason: What is the biggest obstacle to implementing digital learning?

    Bush: Digital schools never have enough operating cache.

  4. Berlin wall analogy was funny but why did the Florida Supreme Court in 2006 reject his original overhaul?

    1. Because the court was crazy liberal back then and wouldn’t do anything to weaken the teaching union base? Had to be something like that, because the decision was bullshit.

      1. I want to read the decision-I’ll look it up

    2. Because if kids in the shittiest schools get vouchers, that means less money for the shittiest schools, which might have to shut down, and then everyone won’t get an equal education. (Which they weren’t anyway since some schools were shittier than others. But that shit don’t pay the NEA/AFT. So let’s pretend that equal access means equal quality; worked for selling healthcare).

      1. Humans aren’t equal. Never have, and never will be until we’re all robots.

        People *do* have equal rights. A right is not something that you deserve to recieve from someone else. Education is therefore not a right.

        Ergo, education should be a competitive, market-bases service, rather than a government monopoly. Public schools attempt to justify themselves as a means to reach equality, something which is impractical and arguably undesirable.

        1. Cue Tony in 3, 2, 1, …

          1. I’m literally lol for the first time in a while. It might just be a delirious “week is almost over” syndrome, but I really appreciated the comment.

        2. Public schools attempt to justify themselves as a means to reach equality, something which is impractical and arguably undesirable


          Why is it wanton? A case of overbearance

          1. I looked up wanton to make sure I had the right definition, and I still don’t get what you’re saying. Please expand.

            1. How could anyone find the ontogenesis of another undesirable?

              1. Re: rather,

                How could anyone find the ontogenesis of another undesirable?

                World – meet the nitwit who believes that Pulbic Educashion nurtures people into “maturity.”

                1. go to bed-you’re too cranky

                2. You’re, like, Mexican, or something. You have NO RIGHT TO VOICE OPINIONS AND YOU’RE ALSO A FASCIST ESR VDEAWBVCVEGWSV.

                  From what I’ve seen thus far, Rather’s an establishment Democrat, right?

  5. But what about the teachers who need those kids in their classes so they can get paid for failing at their jobs? What about them?!

    1. They can dig ditches along with all the other holders of Liberal Arts Degrees!

      1. Liberal Arts graduates are not qualified to dig a proper ditch.

        1. How about a latrine?

  6. School choice is here now. No one is stopping anyone from sending their little crumb-crunchers to any school.

    Vouchers are a terrible idea though – I don’t want my tax dollars supporting some madrassa filling kids’ heads up with Wahabbi/Christian Sharia.

    1. As opposed to my tax dollars being used to fill our kids heads up with liberal dogma? Much better, yeah.

      1. yeah – I’ve heard the conservative primitive worldview – its all stupid crap.

        Teach kids the truth – Natural Selection, Moral Relativism, Big Bang, Open Society, and Science as a Method to explore the world.

        We all win then.

        1. There’s the *truth* (shakes head) and the there’s the *TRUTH* (nods head)!

          1. Fuck if I don’t miss Troy McClure!

        2. Yeah, because the Lefty dogma of AGW, Environmentalism, and Frankenfoods are just sooo dead on balls accurate!

        3. Two things my daughter has learned at her school:

          “Running on the wood chips is not allowed”

          “Climbing on top of the monkey bars is not allowed”

          I’m watching my little girl get all libertarian without any of my help. I’m so proud. And she’s only nine! Thank you public schools for trying to teach her that fun is a four letter word.

        4. “Moral Relativism” is “the truth”?

          And I’d suggest you read the latest Scientific American if you think that the “Big Bang” is “the truth”. (Actually, the current flavor favorite is the Inflationary Hypothesis, but the article explains that it is far from being a TOE.)

        5. Teach kids the truth – …Moral Relativism…

          Say wha?
          Better revise that…

          1. Morality is relative – no question.

            Divorce was forbidden in the West at one time – as was adultery.

            Now they are both happily accepted.

            1. Pure crap, you believe in paying tax with more absolute moral certainty than the most fundamentalist religious person believes in God.

              1. Fuck you, I am a Hayek classic liberal.

                I support Obama as a better choice for my capital – which has been vindicated by the record rise in the S&P 500 for any president 1/2 term.

                The Bushpigs nearly bankrupted me.

                1. You can’t be taken seriously if you believe that whoever is in the WH has any real effect on the current S&P price.

                  1. Bullshit.

                    Capital standards are the basis for healthy markets – the Bushpigs don’t believe in capital.

                    SCAP (March 2009) was huge in terms of turning the market around.

                    You have no chance against me on finance – no one here does.

                    (except “Mo” – that fucker is really good).

                    1. You have no chance against me on finance – no one here does.


                      (takes breath)


                      You are literally dumber than a rock, shriek. I can’t even imagine what you’re like in real life. Do you drool on yourself?

                2. Thats all very well, but what has that got to do with moral relativity ??? You are one of the most fundamentalist deranged people I have ever come across. When you rant and ramble about fundamentalists you are essentially projecting yourself. You really need to seek help, before you kill somebody.

                  1. He’s mistaking cultural attitudes for the fundamentals of morality.

                    I’m an atheist, and I believe moral relativism is one huge, steaming pile of cockroach shit.

                3. Re: shriek,

                  The Bushpigs nearly bankrupted me.

                  They didn’t bankrupt me. Who’s better at finance?

                  Capital standards [sic] are the basis for healthy markets [super sic]

                  You better take your Thorazine, you’re already due.

            2. You don’t seem to know what morality actually is. Better brush up on that, quick…

            3. I don’t think anyone’s debating that different societies (or different times) follow different moral codes. The only difference is that moral relativists don’t think there is any way to identify which one is “right”. But that’s a philosophical question, not a factual one.

              1. Whatever happened to “Fuck ’em all because God’s too busy to sort it out?”

              2. But that’s a philosophical question, not a factual one.

                A rational philosophy deals with ‘factual’ issues, since by definition, that’s all that exists.

                1. Technically true, but functionally useless. “Fact” connotes objectivity, but subjective perceptions are also facts. They’re just facts that are more difficult to communicate through language as we know it, because the semantics of language vary from person to person and are at their most variable when dealing with the subjective. Philosophy also concerns itself with the subjective (that set of facts referred to as “opinions”), though I don’t know that it really succeeds at overcoming the limitations of language.

                  1. Not so. Subjective perceptions about facts are not facts, since only objective identification of facts constitutes facts, according to the correspondence theory of truth.

                    Furthermore, one needs to sharply delineate the world of the mind (the ‘in here’) versus the external world (the ‘out there’), otherwise all sorts of inaccuracies and confusion emerges.

                    Whatever linguistic problems exist, they can be overcome by means of education and logic.

            4. I’m sure you can crush me in finance, but after the market crashed so dramatically, wasn’t it due for a rebound no matter who was in the white house?

              Also, didn’t rhe crash teach us that we have way too many dickholes in finance?

              1. If the Internet has taught me anything, it’s that you can NEVER put too many dicks into ANY hole!

            5. Re: Shrike,

              Morality is relative – no question.

              Happy birthday, Adolf.

    2. Madrassa is the Arabic word for school.

      1. Libertarians and constitutionalists and true American republicans are total morons who don’t know anything at all. Shrike says so, so it’s GOTTA be true, right?

        So, yeah, you… libert-ARYAN XDXDXD go away and take the overly rational and reasonable people and other such rabble with you!11

    3. Re: shrike,

      School choice is here now. No one is stopping anyone from sending their little crumb-crunchers to any school.

      Yes, there is someone: The Tax Man.

      Vouchers are a terrible idea though – I don’t want my tax dollars supporting some madrassa filling kids’ heads up with Wahabbi/Christian Sharia.

      I don’t want my dollars paying for the education of someone else’s kids. How about that, shriek?

    4. There was a time when those local parents who cared enough to try had a great deal of control of what was taught in the public schools. That is no longer true. I grant that universal vouchers will mean that my tax money will necessarily be spent – in part- in teaching attitudes I despise, but I am not persuaded that that won’t happen in centralized public schools too.
      At least with vouchers – provided we have some kind of minimal standards for reading and arithmetic – when the little beasts go through their rebellious phase they can self-educate according to their own taste.

      So, yes, vouchers will fund madrassas (madrassim?) and schools teaching that “Afrocentrism’ tripe that the Professionally Black adapted from pre-rosetta stone Rosicrucian-Masonic fantasies about Egypt, and KKK ‘white supremacy’ dreck, and so long as all the little hellspawn learn to read, write, and do basic math we will STILL come out ahead.

    5. and I would like MY TAX DOLLARS which go toward educating my children to be spent as I think is BEST FOR MY CHILD!

      So lets agree, you can spend your tax dollars where you like (not in some madrassa?) and I can spend my tax dollars where I like (some private academy)

      Sound EXACTLY the way a 100% VOUCHER PROGRAM would work.

      I like it 🙂

  7. “Monopolies don’t want to have direct competition.”


    Looks like he’d in the same I.Q. range as his brother.

    1. Well, I’m pretty sure they don’t…

      Only a very forward-thinking monopolist would set up a competitor.

      1. Same thing my Dad said back when Microsoft bailed out Apple a few decades ago!

        1. “Monopolies only want direct competition when it prevents them from being prosecuted as a monopoly.”


    2. Who, it turns out, has a higher I.Q. than Kerry, and got better grades than Gore.

      In any case, often making political progress requires reminding people of the obvious. Especially when your opposition so desperately wants to avoid the subject.

  8. Doesn’t want monopolies…but let me guess, he wants the schools to buy all their digital crap from one provider that is also the funding provider for his work/think-tank, and he’s probably an investor in it?

    This is how politics work.
    This is especially how retired-politicians work. The fact that he’s a lobbyist working the system doesn’t make it any more free market than if he’s doing it as the governor.

    Virtually all monopolies are created by state interference in the market, and those that aren’t are always–always–maintained by same.

    Behind every successful monopoly, there is a politician.

    I’m not saying we shouldn’t have school choice or digital schools or vouchers or do away with failing public education entirely…I’m just saying let’s not kid ourselves and pretend that some former politician isn’t exactly like every other politician just because he pays lip service to some things we believe.

    1. Neil Bush is in line for that digital crap Jeb wants to buy.

      The Bushpigs never miss graft for the family.

      1. shrike|4.20.11 @ 7:17PM|#

        As posted by stupidshitpig, AKA shriek.

      2. And your just for making sure that no one gains an economic advantage through government’s monopoly of force?

    2. Jeb Bush was a decent governor. I certainly didn’t agree with everything he did (the Schiavo case comes to mind), but he was way above average.

      I certainly understand being skeptical of politicians, but I’d personally give him the benefit of the doubt until there was proof of malfeasance.

    3. Maybe. But surely trying to get money into the hands of parents rather than the government would be in opposition to digital rent-seeking, since it would only work if parents actually found that those programs were worthwhile.

    4. Bingo. Follow the money.

  9. So what steps did Jeb take to end Florida’s control over education? The only real monopoly is one that exists by force, and as Florida was taking money from it’s residents to subsidize it’s education at the expense of anyone who wanted to try to compete and determining who was allowed to operate an education organization within it’s boundaries, I would say that’s a monopoly.

    1. “His first year in office he created a program that offered vouchers to students in failing schools. The program boosted student achievement until it was struck down by the Florida Supreme Court in 2006.”

      Did you go to school in Florida?

      1. Offering vouchers is still government control to me, perhaps you differ in this? Did he work to amend Florida’s constitution to restore control to the people?

        1. Len|4.20.11 @ 9:50PM|#
          “Offering vouchers is still government control to me, perhaps you differ in this?”

          I do.
          At least vouchers allow parents to spend the money where they wish rather than where the teachers’ unions wish.
          It’s not perfect; the money is still taken by force, but the ‘customers’ have some control over the spending.

          1. Parents and students aren’t “customers.” Education is a social necessity, not a for-profit industry. Attempts to privatize are based in trying to steal perceived power, not trying to “change the structure.” Let’s not kid ourselves. Corporate analogies hold no water when applied to public education. A more accurate analogy would be “student as an employee who cannot be fired.”

            1. Bull. Shit. There is absolutely nothing about education that makes it an exception to basic economic forces.

  10. Translation: he doesn’t have enough range to play FS on Sundays. nfl jerseys cheapAgain, don’t base this solely on the stopwatch, because a good safety will break before the ball is even thrown.?

  11. Voucher systems have been tried and have failed. Charter schools are largely run by the fraudulent who have interest in money only (which is what this power grab is about). Technology will never be more than an ancillary tool in education; parents want their kids to learn social interaction skills, and parents also want a place for their kids while they’re at work. Unless everyone suddenly becomes independently wealthy (which, for most, negates the need for education), schools will continue to exist in their present form. Many things need to be changed within public schools; abandoning them entirely is not logical. Employers and colleges want people who can think critically and who can interact effectively with others – such requires being around people. Good try, Jeb. We see right through you.

    1. Re: Johnny Overload,

      Unless everyone suddenly becomes independently wealthy (which, for most, negates the need for education), schools will continue to exist in their present form.

      Your lack of imagination is breath taking.…..537377.ece

    2. Compulsory schooling has been tried and failed. Public schools are run by the government, which is interested only in money, power, and brainwashing students into being good little slaves to totalitarian leftist despotism (which is what this power grab by Florida’s tyrants in black robes was all about). Our oppressors can never allow technology to be more than an ancillary tool in education; if children aren’t “socialized” by our socialist oppressors, they might escape from this despotism, just as their parents might escape from the oppression of a tax system that forces them to be slaving away at their jobs all the time rather than at home raising their children. Unless we can throw off our parasitic oppressors, these evil government schools will continue to destroy liberty and prevent children from being educated. The public schools need to be utterly destroyed; trying to work within their inherently oppressive and anti-educational framework is not logical. Employers and colleges want docile and helpless people who’ll “go along to get along” with the herd and submit to being robbed of their liberties and their capital without complaint, such as “Overload” here. Nice try, Johnny. We see right through your hypocrisy and treason.

      1. Bravo!

      2. Johnny misspelled his last name: He meant “OverloRd.”

    3. Voucher systems have also been tried, and worked. The core problem with education in America is far less along ideological lines than it is simply a matter of any human system calcifies over time, and needs shaking up. The public school systems desperately need shaking up, and vouchers – either for any schools OR just for other public schools – are probably the simplest way to do it, and the hardest for the status quo to subvert.

      They will also re-introduce the idea that the student is in school as part of a pact between the parents and the school, one that includes permission to discipline the little barbarian as necessary. And that re-introduction is badly needed.

  12. Hello and thank you for your contribution

  13. The video inspires me a lot,I will be back seeing this

  14. The government has neither the authority, nor the moral justification to involve itself in education. Period.

    But consider this, guys – the United States hasn’t just, you know, veered a little off course here, a little bit there, and blemished itself slightly over here.

    It’s a near-total abomination in so many of its socio-political and economic aspects, it makes me sick. Something like the voucher system would be a STEP; yes, it wouldn’t be nearly enough to restore the Republic, but it would be a STEP, and we’ve got to start somewhere.

    God. I’m depressed now. THANKS A BUCNH, REASON. THANKS A BUNCH.

    1. Thanks. I’m glad I’m not the only one who ‘gets it’. We’re giving up our home and moving to a much better school district so our little girl can go to a great school, not the local public cesspool.

      1. Good luck. I hope your daughter learns to hate statists as much as most of us do. 😛

  15. No more Bush. We’ve had enough of the Bush family for one century.

    1. Smoked too much of that hopium? Me, I’m looking for a change I can believe in in 2012 and as a Floridian, Bush should be that change. Wouldn’t that be ironic?

      1. No, it would be more of the same. GW Bush spoke a fantastic game before he was elected the first time… but then we know how that went. Come to think of it, it reminds me of the saying “Like father, like son”. We have endured enough from the Bush dynasty.

  16. This dude is dumb. The #1 problem with schools is not the lack of digital delivery! It could be books, tablets, laptops, whatever & it wouldn’t make any difference. 1. Reduce school hours (that’s right, reduce!) to about 4/day. 2. Teacher teaches material & grades previous night’s homework–he/she doesn’t show movies, do group work, or have students blog. 3. Homework is assigned every night & graded every day. 4. A general high school degree is earned at 16-after that students are free to leave. For those that want to stay, there’s a trade track and a college track. At 18, students have decent trade skills or are prepared academically for college. 5. An “F” is an F and an “A” is damn hard to earn. 6. Discipline problem kids are separated, suspended then expelled. 7. Special needs kids are separated and given more attention. 8. Extra-curriculars are de-emphazied and limited-parents pay directly for these. Sports are de-emphasized or done-trust me, local club or neighborhood teams will evolve.
    That’s it–get back to basics.

    1. Oh, yea-not one dime to or from the federal government! Feds have no business dictating anything regarding my kids’ education.

      1. Right on! Having little brainwashed consumers is better than little brainwashed taxpayers

  17. Funding schools with digital tools a step in the right direction. That generation’s success will strongly be determined by ability to use and master digital tools in the work place. So let’s get them proficient, even if they don’t have a computer at home.

  18. I would like to see Jeb Bush learn Differential Calculus online.

  19. “Divide 7,000 by 6, you would get $1,300.”

    I hope there’s some money so Jab can take a math class and learn simple division.

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