In his first speech as an unofficial presidential candidate, Jeb Bush told the Detroit Economic Club on Wednesday that cities should serve as laboratories for conservative government policies. As an example, his cited his hometown of Miami.
"In my city, the schools were failing, opportunity was scarce and for too many, simply being born in the wrong neighborhood meant the American Dream was cruelly out of reach," he said. "I joined my friend, T. Willard Fair, a courageous leader in the civil rights movement. We decided that the right to rise was also a civil right. So we went to work to change education in Florida."
Bush and Fair co-founded Florida’s first charter school – publicly funded but privately run – in 1996. After two years spent lobbying the Florida Legislature, they opened the school in the Miami inner city, with the promise that poor families could choose a better education for their children.
The Liberty City Charter School, which was located in El Portal, gave credibility to the fledgling charter-school movement, which has since exploded in Florida. It became a frequent Bush talking when he ran for governor in 2008. Once in the Governor’s Mansion, he championed educational reforms, including expanding charter schools, that were often controversial.
Bush didn't mention the Liberty City Charter School by name on Wednesday -- and for good reason. The school no longer exists.