Jeb Bush believes Republicans need to do a lot more if they’re going to win over Hispanic voters in 2012 and beyond. Focusing on education issues, he says, is one way for them to do it.
In an op-ed in the Washington Post, the former Florida governor says that Latino voters—a crucial constituency, in his and many others’ view—have “drifted away” from his party.
But Bush, who many Republican state officials credit with having shaped their thinking on school issues, says his party can bring them back, by focusing on making substantive changes to education. Those do not include getting rid of the U.S. Department of Education, he notes:
[W]e should press for an overhaul of our education system. Republicans have the field to themselves on this issue. Teachers unions and education bureaucrats have blocked Democrats from serious reform—it will happen only with Republican political leadership. But we have to move beyond simplistic plans to "get rid of the Department of Education" and focus on substantive, broad-based reform that includes school choice, robust accountability for underperforming schools and the elimination of social promotion, in which kids are passed along without mastering grade-level skills. Such improvements, it was noted in 2009, plus efforts to embrace digital learning, helped Hispanic students in Florida lead the nation among their peers. And Hispanic voters, who often feel their children are trapped in failing schools, notice.
As governor of Florida, Bush was a major backer of private-school vouchers, and since leaving office he’s tried to rally state officials behind the idea of increasing students’ access to online education.
A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.