When Sen. David Simmons needed his colleagues’ support on the education budget last week, he dropped a powerful name on the Senate floor.
“I had a conversation last week with former Gov. Jeb Bush in which we discussed this and his support of it,” Simmons said of the provision to spend $119 million on reading programs at low-income schools.
The name comes up more than you might think. The former governor, who served from 1999 to 2007, still plays a significant role in shaping state education policy.
This session, Bush and his nonprofit organization, the Foundation for Florida’s Future, have helped to fast-track a stream of legislation that could reset the education equation in Florida. The bills, moving steadily through both the House and Senate, could gradually shift the financial and competitive advantage away from traditional public schools to private schools and charter schools, which are often managed by for-profit companies. Other proposals push virtual-learning initiatives.