Florida's "Great Regression" will smash JebSantis '24 if Democrats or Trump start running on it now
How deadly is Florida's ever regressing student performance to Jeb Bush and Ron DeSantis? Listen to their silence after Florida's largest newspaper finally lets me bludgeon them with it.
I’m going to show you two charts in just a moment that are lethal to the bullshit political mythologies of Jeb Bush and Ron DeSantis — which are different, but allied, mythologies.
I am grateful to the Tampa Bay Times for letting me place them into a major spread in its “Perspective” section. The print version comes out Sunday. But it’s already online and making quite an impression.
If you read me regularly, none of this will surprise you. I’ve written about JebSantis’ “Great Regression” for years (although I just invented that name.)
But for the Times — the coiner of “Failure Factories” as a toxic, endlessly damaging education term — to put Florida’s “Great Regression” on its imprint is a BFD. It marks a major reality ratchet point in the history of discourse surrounding Florida’s education model — which is both America’s worst and its most influential.
It starts to create political narrative.
You can tell how important it is by how silent Florida’s endlessly yapping education grifters are today — both in Jebworld and DeSantisworld, which overlap.
Blue is bad: the state of Florida is a deceitful anchor in the human development of its kids
Now let’s get to the charts. I want you to go read the TBT piece I wrote; so this recap will be very brief.
In short, the charts demonstrate brutally what the Florida state education system does to the kids — lib and con, rich and poor alike — who participate in it. It ties an anchor around their necks and restrains their development and growth far more than any other state system.
This map comes from the Educational Opportunity Project at Stanford University. It shows that Florida has by far the worst “learning rate” of any state, as measured by state-level standardized tests. Florida kids “grow” in performance 12 percent less than the national average. The “learning rates” are color-coded and shaded by rank. Blue is bad. Florida is the worst.
This second chart, which I created, uses a different standardized test — the NAEP, the so-called “Nation’s Report Card” — taken in 4th and 8th grade at a national level. This chart displays the “free state of Florida’s” year-after-year, subject-after-subject rank collapse between 4th and 8th. And it compares it to the stability and excellence of Massachusetts and its “lib” schools, which are always near the top in 4th and 8th.
As you can see, measured by the very tests Florida claims to treasure, the “Great Regression” is growing.
My TBT piece suggests some reasons for this massive regression gap with Massachusetts — several of which are likely just forms of fraud in Florida’s 4th grade scores, related to 3rd grade retention and vouchers.
The short answer — although the study doesn’t say it directly — is that Florida creates chaos and grifting and teacher shortages in its schools with fake “choice” scams; Massachusetts, by contrast, creates excellence and stability. Take a look at this chart as indicator. We’ll come back to it in a later article. That’s a political choice; and it’s also lethal to JebSantis.
DeSantis’s toxic workplace and open cruelty is just icing on Jeb’s testing, school grade, voucher, and “choice” fraud
Ron DeSantis creates vibes that add a new layer of visceral emotional cruelty to the longstanding cruel experience of teaching and learning in Florida, especially if you’re part of a vulnerable population.
We don’t know the data effect of DeSantis “anti-wokism” yet.
“The Great Regression” data on display here is a product of less flamboyant — but just as cruel and fraudulent — systemic structures that Jeb Bush created long ago. Jeb’s foundation — which still runs education in Florida — still enforces that system politically and operationally to this day. Jeb is still the governor of education in this state.
And the greatest trick Jeb Bush ever played is convincing respectable people — Democrats like Barack Obama very much included — that he’s a statesman and education innovator.
Jeb Bush is not a statesman.
He’s a competent civic arsonist, pretending to be an education expert and innovator. He’s had great assistance from a truly awful, willfully-incurious, power-worshipping education discourse establishment that loves to attend his conferences. And from political journalism that has no understanding — at all — of how education politics and policy interact.
Doubt me? Here is part of a long, somewhat despairing email I received last night about my TBT piece:
And no one ever asks the questions you put forth in the editorial.
That is both true and unspeakably damning of the Chalkbeat/Education Week/the 74 industrial complex. Because this has all been in plain sight for 20-plus years.
Here’s another example from someone I’ve come to really respect, who is more sympathetic to the education establishment than I am — but is also very fundamentally honest and a believer in public education.
No they don’t — which is why they won’t ask them. Not even the NAEP itself will ask them.
Jeb, like Florida, will be on the DeSantis ‘24 ticket, one way or another
I’m emphasizing Jeb’s culpability — and fake respectability — because he will absolutely be on the DeSantis ‘24 ticket in spirit, if not flesh. (I could see him actually playing Dick Cheney to DeSantis’ W, theoretically “uniting” wings of the GOP.)
DeSantis ‘24 is really just “Florida ‘24: take the grift to D.C.”
The next presidential election is a referendum on Florida, as surely as Florida men Matt Gaetz and Byron Donalds (who made his bones in Jebworld education grifting) are leading the well-earned torture of the craven Kevin McCarthy.
With that in mind, it’s worth remembering that Trump destroyed Jeb and likely won in 2016 by hammering him on Common Core and the cross-partisan education “reform” model that has inflicted so much misery and regression on so many families.
That fraud-based misery also elected me, handily, from “the left” in the heart of JebSantis country, where I outperformed Trump on Election Night 2016 with an anti-testing message of humanity and development in education.
It’s morally correct — and politically potent. I wrote about that here.
Education is politics is education is politics
As a 4th generation Floridian, I would not inflict the corruption, incompetence, and cruelty of my current state government and its education system on my worst enemy, much less my fellow Americans and the country I love.
In truth, Florida doesn’t even have a state government right now.
Rather, a handful of very large, private tourism, development, utility, and education interests make the actual governing decisions and manage their private spaces with varying levels of effectiveness. (Education, public and private, is the worst managed, by Jeb’s foundation — by far. See my Jeb Crow series.)
Outside the private, wealthy oases, in which you can live well in Florida, the public sector and public good, like education, is left to wither. Our elected representatives are essentially useless clerks, who answer to chief clerk DeSantis and the private interests.
Jeb Bush started this destructive transformation; and Rick Scott accelerated it. DeSantis just made himself dictator of the public ashes. He is utterly insignificant to the structural trajectory of life in our state. You can read more about 2022 Florida’s “run to destruction” pathologies here and here.
Bottom line: Florida, more than any other state, exists to recruit and deplete capital built elsewhere, not develop it at home. No state has become more hostile to its native born population than Florida and dependent on the elderly. That demographic, political, and economic reality is virtually guaranteed to produce a terrible education system and an elevated, exploding abortion rate.
And so it has.
The only path to fixing this current Florida reality and rebuilding a developmental — not regressionary — state civic and education system is political. The country needs to reject Florida — as a political and education model. So we need to stop lying about Florida and fluffing its “leaders.”
That’s the only way we’ll rebuild a real public school system — and a real future — for our state. Maybe the TBT letting me state the obvious under its masthead is a start.