Monday, March 9, 2015

Success By Failure

Headline in the New York Times on Saturday:

Charter School in Miami Fails, but Proves Useful on Jeb Bush’s Résumé

The short version is that Jeb Bush used Liberty City Charter School as a prop in his race to the governorship.  Once he got there, it was a different story.

… his firsthand experience in the education of underprivileged urban grade-schoolers lends him credibility in a party that has suddenly seized upon the gap between the rich and poor as politically promising terrain. In his first speech as a likely presidential candidate in Detroit last month, Mr. Bush credited Liberty City Charter School with helping “change education in Florida”

But Mr. Bush’s uplifting story of achievement and reform avoided mentioning the school by name or its unhappy ending. For all his early and vital involvement during his 1998 campaign for governor, and for all the help he offered from afar in the governor’s office, Mr. Bush’s commitment to his school project was not as enduring as some students and teachers might have hoped.

Critics of charter schools note that Liberty City, named after the impoverished African-American neighborhood from which many of its students hailed, also set an unfortunate precedent for the short life span of schools whose survival is dependent on their financial as well as academic success. And while Ms. Wilson-Davis does not blame Mr. Bush for the school’s demise, members of her former faculty and student body wonder whether it ultimately did more for him than he did for it. What everyone agrees is that Mr. Bush moved on.

So yip-yah; Jeb Bush can turn an educational experiment into something to campaign on despite the fact that it is now a smoldering ruin at taxpayers’ — not to mention the kids’ — expense.  It looks like he did learn something from his brother.

In the real world, this would be a more damning piece of news than where Hillary Clinton stored her e-mail.  But we don’t live in the real world, so there.