Diane Ravitch Shares More About Jeb’s Chiefs for Change

The education historian and school reform muckraker, Diane Ravitch, is an avid blogger.  You can check out her blog at http://dianeravitch.net.

This morning she posts significant news for those who are tracking the corporate-reform/school privatization movement.  Jeb Bush leads the far-right Foundation for Excellence in Education, the group that launched the idea of having states rate their public schools with letter grades, A-F.

Jeb Bush also convenes the far-right group of state superintendents of public instruction, Chiefs for Change.  Notable until August among the Chiefs for Change was Tony Bennett, the former state superintendent in Indiana, who then moved to Florida as state superintendent.  Bennett was forced to quit in Florida two weeks ago because of a scandal going back his tenure in Indiana.  He had rigged the state’s A-F system for grading schools (the system he had himself introduced)  to raise the “C”  grade of a charter school founded by one of his biggest financial contributors to an “A.”

Other members of Chiefs for Change, all rushing to bring privatization and punitive accountability schemes to their states, include John White in Louisiana; Chris Cerf in New Jersey; Kevin Huffman, Michelle Rhee’s former husband who is the state superintendent in Tennessee; and the notorious Deborah Gist, Rhode Island’ state superintendent who fired the entire teaching staff at Central Falls High School in Rhode Island’s very poorest community and then went on to fire teachers across Providence as her school reform of choice.

Another member of Chiefs for Change was Stephen Bowen, school superintendent in Maine, until this week.  Ravitch reports his resignation in her post this morning, Another of Jeb Bush’s “Chiefs for Change” Steps Down.  Here is the post:

Another of Jeb Bush’s “Chiefs for Change” Steps Down

Stephen Bowen, state commissioner of education in Maine, announced that he was resigning his post to take a job as “director of innovation” for the DC Council on Chief State School Officers. He is the second member of Jeb Bush’s Chiefs for Change to resign in the past few weeks. Tony Bennett of Florida was the other; he resigned when news broke about rigging the A-F grading system to raise the grade of a school run by a political donor.

Last year, Bowen was at the center of a scandal revealed by journalist Colin Woodard. Bowen was taking instruction and even model legislation to promote digital learning from Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education. FEE gets subsidies from the tech corporations that stand to profit as digital learning expands.

Bowen previously worked for a conservative think tank in Maine.

The interesting aspect of this is the apparent transformation of the CCSSO, which was for many years a staunch defender of public education. Bowen clearly is slinger with the privatization movement, of which his mentor Jeb Bush is a prominent leader.


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