Jeb Bush recently appeared at the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, and discussed education and immigration reform. Governor Bush first discussed education:
And we put accountability into schools. We grade schools A, B, C, D, and F, so there was no hiding behind failing schools. We created the most ambitious school choice programs, both public and private. We expanded early childhood activities. 100 percent, or 80 percent at least, of the vouchers that went for four year olds to go to literacy-based programs, went to church based schools. We created—we ended social promotion, we rewarded teachers when they did a great job, and we eliminated tenure down the road so that bad teachers got out of the classroom. And the net effect of this was that Florida now is the national leader.
And let me give you some statistics because when you go home and you hear the politicians, and the union leaders, and the bureaucrats say that… or Little Johnny can’t learn anything because he’s in poverty, it’s not our fault. How many times have you heard that? Over and over and over again we hear this in our great nation. We should have lofty expectations for every child because God has given that child the ability to learn, and that’s what we should be focusing on. And in Florida, we did just that. There’s a nation’s report card called the NAEP test. Florida’s Hispanic students outscored the statewide average of all students in 34 states, 10 years after we began our reforms in 4th grade reading. Florida’s Hispanic 4th graders ranked first in the nation compared to their peers in the other 50 states, two grade levels ahead of the average Hispanic student. Florida’s high school graduation rate, one of the great challenges in the Latino communities in this country, increased by 28 percentage points in 12 years time from 47 percent to 75 percent. One of the greatest increases in the nation.
Bush went on stating:
You can move the needle, you can raise—you can change the lives of thousands and thousands of families if you have the courage to have school choice, robust accountability, higher standards, focusing on early childhood literacy, you can move the needle, and the beneficiaries are those that have traditionally been left behind.
Bush then turned his focus to immigration, and discussed his plan for immigration reform at length:
We have the ability, because of immigration, to be an emerging country again. To be full of optimism. To believe that our future is brighter than our present. But we have to fix a broken immigration system and do it in short order. That means controlling the border. That means making legal immigration easier than illegal immigration. That means creating a catalyst for economic growth, for sure. But it also means dealing with the 11 million undocumented workers that are here in this country. 11 million people that should come out of the shadows and receive earned legal status, where they pay a fine, where they work, where they do what they want to do, which is come out from shadows, work, provide for their families, not receive government assistance, and over a period of time, receive earned legal status. This country does not do well when people lurk in the shadows. This country does spectacularly well when everybody can pursue their God-given abilities.
Joshua Pinho works for American Principles in Action.