Jeb Bush’s consolation prize
There may be a silver lining for Jeb Bush — the elevation of his longtime friend, patron and political ally, Betsy DeVos, as education secretary.
There may be a silver lining to the 2016 presidential election for Jeb Bush — the elevation of his longtime friend, patron and political ally, Betsy DeVos, as education secretary.
If DeVos is confirmed by the Senate as most expect, Bush could see his views on education — repeatedly ridiculed on the campaign trail by Donald Trump — given new life as she turns their shared vision into national policy.
For years, the former Florida governor and DeVos worked side-by-side to push “school choice” policies that steer taxpayer funding to charter and private schools — and which critics blame for undermining traditional public schools. They served together on the board of Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education, to which DeVos and her husband gave large contributions. The DeVoses also contributed to Bush’s presidential campaign.
One of Trump’s biggest education promises — a proposed $20 billion block grant promoting charter and private schools — was developed with input from DeVos’ D.C.-based advocacy group, the American Federation for Children. Not surprisingly, it aligns closely with Bush’s education philosophy.
Now, the programs the two crafted together in Florida and other states are likely to serve as models for federal policymaking — indeed, they have already influenced Trump’s statements on the campaign trail.
Little wonder that Bush was effusive about DeVos’ selection last month by the man who had derided him all year as “low energy.”
“I cannot think of a more effective and passionate change agent to press for a new education vision, one in which students, rather than adults and bureaucracies, become the priority in our nation’s classrooms,” Bush said.
The ties between Bush and DeVos are seen not just through their ideas and state legislative crusades but also through their shared reliance on the same network of policy staffers and experts — some of whom are likely to assume key Education Department posts.
A member of Bush’s inner circle, Josh Venable, who has worked as national director for advocacy and legislation at his foundation, is helping DeVos prepare for her confirmation hearing, sources told POLITICO.
Bush’s former deputy commissioner of education in Florida, Hanna Skandera, is also being considered for a top position beneath DeVos, sources told POLITICO. Skandera is a core member of the advocacy group Chiefs for Change, created by Bush in 2008 to highlight leaders of the so-called education reform movement.
Those ties have already proved politically ticklish for DeVos. Bush’s critics on the Jeb Bush’s consolation prize - POLITICO: