Michelle Malkin has Florida wrong

You’re doing it wrong!

The new piece by Michelle Malkin on Jeb Bush, Tony Bennett and education reform in the Sunshine State is a touch heavy on hasty generalizations. The most jarring may be the way Malkin lumped Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida from 1999 to 2007, in with the grading scandal in Indiana that embroiled the current Florida commissioner of education, Tony Bennett.

Malkin begins,

“[Bennett’s] disgraceful grade-fixing scandal is the perfect symbol of all that’s wrong with the federal education schemes peddled by Bennett and his mentor, former GOP governor Jeb Bush: phony academic standards, crony contracts, and big-government and big-business collusion masquerading as “reform.”

Tony Bennett was a strong supporter of school choice and common core. His resignation over issues related to A-F grading has now encouraged opportunists on the left and right to attack. Malkin begins her piece by lumping education policy together in one big pot and, without consideration, dismisses everything that was accomplished in Florida. Malkin didn’t take the time to separate out education policy in her hurried effort to attack Common Core.

And this is where Michelle Malkin is getting it wrong.

Malkin, in this respect, is following the approach of Diane Ravitch or Florida’s Fund Education Now organization. They tend to take advantage of any grading scandal to oppose and roll back A-F grading scales, accountability, teacher evaluations, and to besmirch the progress of any other reform attached to Bennett or Bush. Malkin is using this opportunity to attack Common Core, but her careless generalizations do more harm to the school choice and accountability movement.

Whether you agree or disagree with Common Core you simply cannot deny the strong growth in education achievement seen in Florida. Jeb Bush’s many reforms were a part of the growth. Denying that because you disagree with one unimplemented policy is irresponsible.

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BY Patrick R. Gibbons

Patrick Gibbons is public affairs manager at Step Up for Students and a research fellow for the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. A former teacher, he lived in Las Vegas, Nev., for five years, where he worked as an education writer and researcher. He can be reached at (813) 498.1991 or emailed at pgibbons@stepupforstudents.org. Follow Patrick on Twitter: at @PatrickRGibbons and @redefinEDonline.


Tony Bennett says his grade change helped 13 schools but what he doesn’t mention is 12 of them were charter schools and one was a virtual school. He also doesn’t mention that two public schools were in the same boat as his beloved charter school was in the year before and he didn’t lift a finger to help them.

I guess he expects us to just believe it is coincidence that Bennett received 130 thousand dollars from the operator of Christel house.

It also never came up that his wife accepted a lucrative job with a charter school outfit that he awarded contracts to.

Finally about Bennett anyways, does an innocent guy who believes he did the right thing really quit after just two days?

I and I thought I would never say it, have to say she got it right.

Patrick R. Gibbons

She doesn’t get it right. She’s conflating three different issues together 1) Jeb Bush’s Florida reforms 2) Bennett’s A-F scandal in Indiana and 3) Common Core. The only link is that Bush and Bennett support Common Core (which she doesn’t like) and Bennett is embroiled in a scandal.

Conflating the issues together (just to try to get a quick win against common core) hurts the school choice reforms Jeb Bush helped push because she now links them all together (choice opponents are doing the same already).

You are absolutely wrong. The mere fact that members of Florida State School Board, Florida State legislators and our past 3 Commissioner’s of Eduction have all been a part of the Jeb Bush Foundations and/or Chief’s for Change shows a level of cronyism not seen anywhere else in America. Jeb Bush has abused his position as former governor as a non-educator to convince people he knows about education and he does not – nor does he care one bit about our children. It is all about Money, Power & Control.

If the point of CCS is that all are going to be educated the same what is the point of “choice” or “charter”? The Charter school goal, we who know right over wrong, know is the “unelected school boards, with less than none oversight which is taxation without representation.

Your remarks sounds like you might be getting some of that Gates or Bush money to support them and their endeavor to create National Education and the control of our children. Wake-up and smell the dandelions!

Patrick R. Gibbons

Hi Sam, thanks for commenting. No it doesn’t show cronyism. Malkin is making a guilt by association claim – it is a logical fallacy. The bigger problem, however, is that Malkin doesn’t understand Florida’s education reform history and instead lumps everything together so she can make one blunt attack at Common Core.

Also note, accusing people of believing what they believe because they may or may not have received a donation from X group is also a logical fallacy. It also doesn’t address the underlying merits (for or against) the subject at hand.

Sean O'Neal

Florida as shown by the FCAT results and their graduation rates along with the number of children going on to college that have to take remedial classes shows they are “NOT” an education leader state. Florida’s education reform is nothing more than giving “lip service” to the Bush goal of all schools being Charter schools. You need to go back and read and listen to remarks made by former George H.W. regarding Charter schools. This is not about education – it is again about MONEY. POWER & CONTROL.

I am sure Malkin understands what is happening here in Florida better than you – she just calls a “spade a spade”. If you really want to know what has been happening in Florida education why are you not showing any concern of the fact FL had 3 in a row Jeb Bush “Chief’s for Change” for Commissioner of Education”?



When you are at http://www.inthepublicinterest.org be sure to check out their FOIA on all the communications between the Bush Foundation, Commissioner’s and FL DOE.

Shame on you for not doing your research and helping the parents of Florida rid itself of this “for-profit” cronyism between the elected and appointed education officials and the Jeb Bush Foundation. Rather then being so quick to assume – do your research!

By the way – the Bush boys are not school boys! DO YOUR RESEARCH! The Bush damage to Florida is well documented!

Oh, and the name is Sean – not Sam!

The Real One

She’s definitely got it right. As a mathematics educator in Florida for the last twelve years, I have seen the quote on quote reform movement almost from it’s infancy. This reform effort is nothing but a ponzi scheme disguised under a well intended premise. Follow the money and the truth will be clear as day. Let me clue you in on the actions of the so called education governor while he was in office. 1) He concocted what he called a “devious plan” to overturn a class size amendment that was voted on and passed by the citizens of Florida. 2) Mr. Bush also opened the door to public funding of private institutions. 3) Jebby also instituted the school grading system that is the center of the Bennet scandal. I can go on forever, but the issue is simple and extremely easy to decipher. Jeb Bush is at the center of education policy not only in Florida, but across the nation as well. So any appointment to a position of power within the education arena in Florida must first be run through Jeb for his approval. Look at all of these conflicts of interest mentioned in the posts above yet they simply sweep it under the rug; however I am not allowed to tutor any of my students because it’s a conflict of interest. This reeks of hypocrisy! Jeb as well as Patricia Levesque both came out in support of Bennett when news of the scandal broke, yet they are not linked? Both parties are guilty of selling out the kids to their corporate masters. So please spare me the repub and dem blame game BS. Stop being a sheep and open your eyes both parties are two in the same working for the same boss. They just simply divide the country with a few irrelevant issues like gay marriage and abortion and fleece the citizenry while they argue about issues that have zero impact on their lives. The reform movement is the same as the housing scheme a few years back except when this bubble bursts we will be left with a much bigger mess to clean up. If you really want to fix education you must first end poverty. You must then make teaching a real profession akin to medical school to attract and retain the best and brightest. Current teachers should not be exempt from these new standards and should be let go if they cannot pass the rigorous courses. Finally let actual teachers with proven track records for success decide actual education policy, not profit motivated cronies whom have never set a foot in an actual classroom. Please excuse any grammatical errors these tiny keys on my smartphone are a royal pain.

Susan Smith

Must be a difficult job to be a paid hack for Jeb Bush these days.

The Real One

How’s the CCSS cheerleading going for you? Feeling a little sour about Florida deciding to scrap these bogus standards? One down many more to come! People are finally starting to see through the socalled “reform” movement for what it truly is. But keep on busting those splits while you cheer for Jebby, Bill Gates, Arnie Duncan, Michelle Rhee, the Koch Brothers, ALEC and the rest of the parasitic profiteering leeches of society that I forgot to mention. How many of these so called reformers have kids in public school? Crickets……..

Patrick R. Gibbons

You might notice from reading the blog post that no hint of support or opposition is given to Common Core. I’m merely pointing out that Malkin is conflating a bunch of different reforms in order to make a hasty attack one she doesn’t like.

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