Winding down his tenure as governor, Florida's Jeb Bush received, courtesy of the Miami Herald, a lengthy and mostly fair assessment of his education policies' successes and failures. Bush's "crusade to reinvent Florida's public education system," writes Matthew Pinzur, "was built around numbers." And by that measure, things are generally looking up. In 1999, just over half of Sunshine State fourth-graders were reading at the proficient level on the FCAT exam; today, 66 percent do. Importantly, these gains are matched by similar progress among Florida fourth-graders on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Tenth-graders, however, haven't fared as well--the number reading at the proficient level on state tests is down one percentage point, from 33 to 32, since Bush was elected. But the outgoing governor argues that, as thousands of newly proficient fourth-grade readers make their way through the middle and secondary school ranks, achievement levels will rise there, too. Let's give credit where credit is due: Despite recent setbacks at the hands of the state's Supreme Court and legislature, the educational foundations that Bush built have a good chance of benefiting Floridians for years to come.
"Jeb's last semester," by Matthew I. Pinzur, Miami Herald, August 6, 2006