Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush told Texas senators "to go big or go home" when it comes to pushing changes to public education policy on Wednesday.
In Austin for the Texas Business Leadership Council's education summit, Bush spoke to the upper chamber's education committee on reforms he implemented in Florida, including voucher programs, mandatory online classes and an A through F school rating system. The committee's chairman, Dan Patrick, R-Houston, has made bringing those kinds of reforms to Texas a top priority for the current legislative session.
"When you have a chance to reform, it ought to be big. You either go big or go home," said Bush, who currently chairs the Foundation for Excellence in Education, a national organization he founded after leaving office in 2007 that advocates for virtual learning, charter schools and other policies based on their success in Florida.
He said Florida's A through F school ratings — which Texas Education Agency Commissioner Michael Williams and some lawmakers have proposed enacting in Texas — had engaged parents in their community schools by making their performance easier to understand. Opening up the public education system by expanding charter schools and providing vouchers for private schools, he said, helped those engaged parents choose the best schools for their children and drive low-performing public schools to improve.