At Harvard, Jeb Bush pushes for 'radical' reform of education
CAMBRIDGE >> Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush made clear Thursday where he stands on the Massachusetts charter school debate.
"If you're arguing about charter schools, clearly you're not going to get to the Bush plan," Bush told an audience at Harvard's Kennedy School.
After one of the moderators touched on the charter debate in Massachusetts - where passage of Question 2 would allow for up to 12 additional charter schools per year outside the statutory caps - Bush said, "I would eliminate the cap."
The younger brother of the 43rd president and the son of the 41st, Bush was the Sunshine State's governor from 1999 through 2007, and he argued Thursday for a sharp break from the traditional model of public education. The chairman of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, Bush said the nation needs a "radical transformation of our education system."
"The definition of public education should not be that it's in a public school setting. You're educating the public," Bush said. He said Florida's model of offering vouchers for public school students to attend private school had been a success, building a constituency and improving educational outcomes for low income students.
Bush, who at one point led the polls in the Republican nominating contest, was more laconic about the presidential race, where Democrat Hillary Clinton is facing Republican Donald Trump.
"No comment," Bush said, when a reporter asked him who he was voting for after the event, as students gathered around to meet him and have their photos taken. "Secret ballot. Great American tradition."
David Nataren, who is studying towards a master's in public administration, said he had also asked Bush who he was voting for. Bush responded, "Too many cameras."
Bush later told reporters he would not vote for either major party's presidential nominee, according to news accounts. In Florida, 12 candidates have been certified for the presidential ballot, including six write-in candidates, according to a candidate listing by Florida's Department of State.
The former frontrunner for the Republican nomination criticized the country's political leadership in his talk, saying that historically "in times of peril in our country" leaders have stepped up.
"Can we honestly say that's happening today?" Bush asked. He said, "The culture of civility needs to be restored, and I think it's OK to be warm-hearted."
Bush, who is a visiting fellow at the Kennedy School for the fall semester, focused his lecture on a "bottom-up" approach to governing, saying the current structure makes it too difficult for people to lift themselves out of poverty.
"Across the spectrum our policy is stuck in the mid-1970s," Bush said.
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