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Jeb Bush’s Good Advice on Education

Salena Zito has posted her full interview with former Florida governor Jeb Bush, in which Bush suggests there is no need to look further for a vice presidential nominee than Florida Senator Marco Rubio. Rubio has been among the most common suggestions for the GOP nominee’s running mate, but now that Romney appears to have wrapped up the nomination, the calls for Rubio to join the ticket are growing louder. (Romney’s blandness has encouraged some commentators to caution him away from choosing Bob McDonnell or Rob Portman.)

But Bush’s other comments in the interview offer some good advice for Romney as well. Romney has been hoping to run against Obama’s record–massive deficits, unsustainable entitlements, high gas prices, high unemployment, etc. But he has already begun conceding the economy’s improvement and searching for someone other than the president to credit. Paul Ryan gave Romney an opportunity to make this election about advocating for future generations when Ryan released his budget aiming to steer the country away from crushing deficits and entitlement insolvency. If Romney follows Ryan in this direction, Bush gave him some more to work with yesterday:

Bush said he is confident Romney would advocate for education issues, an issue the former governor said he was “passionate” about.

“He knows the proper role of government in education, which is limited,” Bush said. “You do not have to have an interventionist federal policy to make something as important as education a national priority.”

It’s unclear why the GOP candidates have not been talking more about education. President Obama’s budget eliminates the D.C. scholarship program that offered many minority students a much-needed lifeline out of failing schools, and his outspoken opposition to the program has infuriated black and Hispanic leaders. And Chris Christie’s reforms in New Jersey have shown the benefit of bringing teacher’s union contracts closer to reality and freeing up funding for the students. (As someone who has covered education in New Jersey, I can tell you that students were stuck using outdated textbooks and had after-school tutoring and sports programs cut because the state’s Democrats saw unions, not students, as their constituency.)

Romney can also take a look at a new report released by a committee chaired by Condoleezza Rice (another common suggestion for vice president) and former New York City schools chancellor Joel Klein. The report makes for grim reading, and the task force concludes that the dire state of American education is a national security threat as well:

The lack of preparedness poses threats on five national security fronts: economic growth and competitiveness, physical safety, intellectual property, U.S. global awareness, and U.S. unity and cohesion, says the report. Too many young people are not employable in an increasingly high-skilled and global economy, and too many are not qualified to join the military because they are physically unfit, have criminal records, or have an inadequate level of education.

“Human capital will determine power in the current century, and the failure to produce that capital will undermine America’s security,” the report states. “Large, undereducated swaths of the population damage the ability of the United States to physically defend itself, protect its secure information, conduct diplomacy, and grow its economy.”

The broad implications of this issue make it ready-made for an election campaign focused on increasing opportunities for future generations. Bush, Christie, and Rice may not be running, but the rest of the conservative movement and its ascendant standard bearers should be listening carefully.


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