Jeb Bush oversaw what appears to be an amazing transformation in education results in Florida from 1999 to 2007. He came to Utah to talk to legislators to share those results and what Florida did to achieve them. The Deseret News summarized some of it. However, anyone interested in education needs to learn more. Luckily, you don’t have to be among the special 300 who got to attend.
Bush started a non-profit as soon as he finished his time as governor. It’s called Foundation for Excellence in Education. On its website you can watch The Florida Formula Student Achievement which gives you the overview. Yeah, it’s 80 minutes long. So what? The education of our children is one of the most important things we can spend our time on. It’s worth two episodes of Seinfeld reruns or The Office. When you’re finished, you then might want to watch any number of the other videos out there or explore their material on excellence in teaching.
There is one key thing that has to be gotten right, however, for the whole thing to work. And that’s the test. All of this is based on performance on Florida’s FCAT. Right now I’m not too confident of Utah’s core tests. First, no teacher knows what’s on them. If you don’t know what you’re being measured on, it’s kind of hard to live up to the measurement. A lot of people go all Chicken Little about teaching to the test–“don’t teach toward the test! oh, no we’re teaching to the test!” But if the test is structured correctly, then that’s EXACTLY what we should be teaching to. The second issue is the very objectives we’re testing. I have not been impressed with Utah’s state objectives. Bad objectives and a bad test sink the whole operation. I’ve written more on these two issues here.
Still, I think Florida is on to something. Watch the video and then tell me what you think. I would be thrilled to have what I’ve seen so far implemented in Utah.