It was the matriarch of the Bush family, Barbara Bush, who told the world, "We've had enough Bush's in the White House!"
On the same weekend, just past, when the Bush family gathered to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of George Herbert Walker Bush's presidency, and when George W. Bush unveiled his portraits of world leaders in his presidential library, former Governor of Florida, bilingual (English and Spanish) Jeb Bush tells the world that he will announce by the end of this year whether or not he will make his own run for the presidency, making him a third Bush to seek the Republican nomination in three decades.
There are so many reasons why, given his "pedigree" and the deplorable state of the Republican party, that he would be pursued as a "winning candidate" for that party to take back control of the government, for all the business, corporate and uber-rich folks who pour their money into the Republican coffers, through both super-pacs, and now, with the latest Supreme Court decision taking the limits off private donations to political candidates, directly into the campaigns.
He is not tainted with even a hint of scandal, as is Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie; he is not "shop-worn" like some of the other potential candidates, having remained out of politics, officially since leaving the governor's mansion in Florida. And, for some of his potential supporters, like the president of Netflix, who believes that all education in America will be delivered in a manner similar to his current business model, and will therefore be another commodity purchased by individual consumers for their children who will receive that education in the privacy of their computer cubicles in their own homes, Jeb Bush, as governor, has laid the groundwork for such a dystopia already in Florida.
Charter schools, vouchers, and the ancillary building blocks for privatizing of elementary and secondary education are so far advanced in Florida that advocates for public education call that state the "model" for their concerted efforts to thwart the movement that is obviously heavily funded by all of those people who believe, as strongly as if it were their religion, perhaps even stronger, that privatizing everything will produce generations of young voters who will know nothing about a public sector, unions, the right to fair employment standards, and something some of us still like to call the "public good".
Reports from advocates of public schools like Diane Ravitch, indicate that teachers in many charter schools, and also schools supported by vouchers of public funds, pay their teachers less than is required by public schools, provide larger classes, fewer benefits, and resist all attempts at public accounting, pleading that as private corporations, they ought not to be subject to public audits, even though they are spending public funds.
Education historian Diane Ravitch says the privatization of public education has to stop. As assistant secretary of education under President George H.W. Bush, she was an advocate of school choice and charter schools; under George W. Bush, she supported the No Child Left Behind initiative. But after careful investigation, she changed her mind, and has become, according to Salon, “the nation’s highest profile opponent” of charter-based education.
On this week’s Moyers & Company, she tells Bill Moyers, ”I think what’s at stake is the future of American public education. I believe it is one of the foundation stones of our democracy: So an attack on public education is an attack on democracy.” (from Bill Moyers and Company website, March 28, 2014)
As the diplomatic and charismatic governor of Florida, Jeb Bush could be, and by some is, considered the political leader of the movement to privatize public education. For that reason alone, we deem him a danger to the democracy of the United States and issue a warning to all Americans who might be thinking of supporting his candidacy for the White House.
Individual competition among parents to seek the best college education for their children makes them a susceptible and vulnerable market for all forms of advertising deployed by the "privatizing" movement. What is left out of the marketing campaigns is monumental.
Charter schools refuse to accept children with special learning needs, or those who struggle to learn, of those who would, because of their special needs, lower the test scores of any schools in which they are enrolled. It is not rocket science to see that such a process already divides the society, at a very early age, the formative years, into those who are considered "acceptable" and those who are deemed "beneath" those who are acceptable. Charter schools students will, inevitably, pass through twelve years of elementary and secondary education without having to associate with peers who struggle much harder to learn the same curriculum. They will already be exposed to a "sanitized" culture in which they are "gated" from the "lesser" children. And their parents will pour their public education dollars into the profit-centred bank accounts of the large educational corporations whose primary, if not sole, purpose is to generate profits, not to education students.
Already on the market in the United States, something called K-12.com, I selling "seats" to naïve parents for their children to enrol in "home schooling" through a laptop, provided by the corporation selling the enrollment. Fewer teachers than are really necessary monitor the students' performance, and those students whose parents have fallen for this "seduction" of the most simplified method of educating their children are deprived of all of the important, even we would argue, essential ingredients of public education, the rubbing shoulders with a complete range of students from all backgrounds, cultures, incomes, racial and ethnic origins, and only through such a process can and will the students in public schools gain an appreciation of the real country of which they will become an integral part.
Social layering through privately operated corporate schools will also inevitably promote a curriculum that turns a blind eye to those subjects considered anathema to the private corporations and their funding executives; into that list would go subjects like the history and contribution of the labour movement, the history of racism, the theory of evolution (in some two dozen states already, creationism is the preferred curricular offering to evolution which those states deem to be untrue). Sanitizing both the classroom environment (from students with learning difficulties) and the curriculum (from topics considered ideologically repugnant) in order to generate profits for the corporations who run the schools will effectively erode all the best and the worst elements of the democracy, similar to the erosion of the culture from those racial elements deemed inappropriate in the Third Reich.
Creeping private takeover of the public education system is a monster against which all forces need to be mustered, if the movement is to be stopped before it takes over the United States education system. And, as a first step in that push-back, the rejection of Jeb Bush as a candidate for the Republican nomination for the White House, is necessary. Should he decide to run, there is little likelihood that his circle will permit a full public debate on privatizing of public education, for which his governorship is best known, in Florida.