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February 27, 2013
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The Texas Senate
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush testified about his experience in education reform before the Senate Education Committee Wednesday.

(AUSTIN) — Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush met with the Senate Education Committee at a public hearing on Wednesday to talk about public school reform. Bush told Senators that states must raise expectations and standards in order to improve public school education. "We should have high expectations for every kid," he said. "That means we should have higher academic standards, we should benchmark our standards to the best in the world."

As Governor of Florida, Bush implemented his "A+ Plan" which created accountability standards and eliminated social promotions, requiring that students meet certain academic standards to advance in grade. The results, according to the Foundation of Excellence in Education CEO Patricia Levesque, was to see a sharp rise in the number of schools that met higher standards and an increase in student achievement. One thing that helped, said Levesque, was moving to a clear A-F grading system for school accountability. Unlike other states, that use complicated and vague terms to rate school performance, assigning a letter grade to a school lets parents and officials understand immediately how well their area schools are performing.

Bush advised Senators to create a cycle of reform, where successful reform projects breed more reform projects. He told them to separate the policy and the money; to fund reform areas first, to give them priority above other areas. Bush also told the committee to think big and make sweeping ambitious reforms. "Go big or go home," he said.

The Senate will reconvene Monday, March 4 at 2 p.m.

Session video and all other Senate webcast recordings can be accessed from the Senate website's Audio/Video Archive.