Condoleezza Rice Takes Over Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education

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Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will be taking over as Chairman of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s education foundation.

Rice, also a former diplomat, professor at Stanford University, and partner in a consulting firm, has served as a member of of the board of the Foundation for Excellence in Education for the past two years, writes Thomas Beaumont of Associated Press. The group, formed by Bush after his two terms as Florida’s governor, kept Bush in the public eye and pushed to export the education policies he established in Florida to other states.

“I cannot overstate Dr. Rice’s international and national accomplishments and the vast intellect and bold vision she brings to our ambitious work in reform,” Bush said in a letter to foundation staff obtained by The Associated Press.

Bush, in order to prepare for his possible run for president in 2016, left the foundation at the end of last year. He also bowed out of other boards as well, such as Tenet Healthcare Corp., and the Rayonier timber company. The foundation president appointed by Bush will be F. Philip Handy, who was a former chairman of the Florida State Board of Education while Bush was in office and who also served as campaign chairman for both of Bush’s gubernatorial runs.

In spite of the fact that Bush’s campaign has not officially launched, Rice’s leadership in the foundation will be keenly observed by GOP insiders who are already immersed in the 2016 race.

“Of course, they are going to think she must be inclined to support Jeb,” said Henry Barbour, a Republican National Committee member from Mississippi. “That doesn’t make it so. But reasonable people could come to that conclusion.”

Bush’s foundation created measures, included in what is called the Florida Formula for Student Achievement, with the main focus of requiring strict accountability for teachers and students. The accountability included an A-F grading system for schools, private school vouchers, and no social promotion for third graders who fail reading tests.

In Bush’s letter to the education foundation “team” upon his leaving as president and chairman for seven years, he asks the board and their leaders to remember that “reform is never finished and success is never final“, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

The complete Reform Agenda can be found on the Foundation for Excellence web site. The reform includes maintaining the Common Core State Standards, which it says will prepare students for careers and college. Also, it supports high academic standards, stringent preparatory courses, and dual enrollment choices.

The Foundation advocates using technology to give students a high-quality, individualized education and to give teachers tools to help students succeed to their highest ability. Top-notch teachers need to be recruited and effective teachers need to be rewarded and recognized.

The foundation does not support teacher tenure, data-based evaluations or compensations, or certification or licensure through alternative methods. Promotions for students must be performance-based and rigorous interventions must be made to ensure that students can read by the third grade. When strategies and programs are proven and produce results, funding should be targeted for these initiatives.

The foundation supports families’ rights to choose from public, private, charter, virtual, or home schools.