Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has been picked to be the next leader of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, the influential education advocacy organization founded by former Florida governor and potential presidential candidate Jeb Bush, the Associated Press reported Jan. 22.
Rice has close ties to Bush’s family, having served as secretary of state under Jeb Bush’s brother, former President George W. Bush, from 2005 to 2009. She is currently a professor of politics and a senior fellow at Stanford University. The AP reported it had obtained a letter from Bush to the foundation’s staff introducing Rice as the group’s new leader.
Jeb Bush, who started the Foundation for Excellence in Education in 2008 soon after his eight years as Florida governor ended, has turned the group into one of the most influential education organizations in the nation, lobbying states ranging from Maine to Oklahoma to adopt a broad suite of policies, including A-F accountability and online learning. But at the start of this year, he announced that he was leaving his role as chairman of the foundation in order to explore a run for the White House in 2016.
In 2012, Rice was leader of a task force at the Council of Foreign Relations (along with former New York City schools Chancellor Joel Klein) that explored links between U.S. education policy and national security. The task force’s report, “U.S. Education Reform and National Security,” argued that continuing underperformance in K-12 would put the nation’s safety at risk, and that the country “will not be able to keep pace—much less lead—globally unless it moves to fix the problems it has allowed to fester for too long.”
Citing low scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress and low graduation rates, particularly for minority students, the report recommended a few of same broad approaches also supported by Bush’s foundation, including increased school choice and the Common Core State Standards. The report also promoted a national “audit” of the country’s schools in order “to assess whether students are learning the skills and knowledge necessary to safeguard America’s future security and prosperity.”
UPDATE: I neglected to mention in my initial post that Rice is a member of the Foundation for Excellence in Education’s board of directors. She also spoke at the group’s “national summit” last year, and you can watch her remarks here (hat tip to Travis Pillow of redefinED for highlighting this clip):
Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times also posted the letter Bush sent to the foundation’s staff announcing Rice as the new head of the foundation—click here to read the letter, in which Bush calls Rice a “strong and compelling voice for education reform and school choice.”
Photo: Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice smiles while participating in a keynote conversation with former Ambassador to Iraq and current Dean of the University of Denver’s Korbel School of International Studies Christopher Hill, during the annual Korbel Dinner, in Denver last year. AP-File photo
A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.