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Spellbinding Jeb Bush Speech on Education Ruined by Reality-Based Journalist

Your former governor was in Atlanta recently, earnestly pretending to be a frontrunner for the 2012 Republican nomination for president. Or maybe he was testing a theory about mind control: that if you keep telling people something that's false, maybe they'll come to believe that it's true.

If so, Jeb Bush should take a cue from those windowless, clockless casinos -- the key is to contain the encroaching forces of reality. That's what appeared to break the spell for an Atlanta columnist, Maureen Downey, who had just finished enjoying enduring a replay of Bush's Power Point presentation (Can you possibly imagine how stultifying that was?), when she was bombarded by an email from the ACLU, which just happens to be filing a suit against the same utopian education system that Bush left in his wake.

Clearly, one of the two was full o' shit. But which will prove more convincing to the education columnist?

Downey's blog post in the Atlanta Journal Constitution doesn't really say. Rather, she made the fairly obvious point that the same school statistics could be spun positively or negatively, depending on the spinner's agenda. Just as Bush's view clashed with the ACLU's, Georgia Superintendant Kathy Cox was mighty proud of the state's education system, while a former West Virginia governor Bob Wise gave it a failing grade -- using the same statistics:

Neither was wrong. Cox was noting the overall improvement in the writing scores, rather than the number of Georgia students writing at the highest levels. She accurately stated that 88 percent of Georgia student scores at the basic level or higher, a six-point jump since 2002, the last time the NAEP writing test was given.

But Wise focused on the fact that only 28 percent of Georgia eighth-graders performed at the proficient level -- which NAEP defines as "solid academic performance" -- and 1 percent performed at the advanced or superior level.

Success is very hard to pin down in education. What measures can we trust?

None. Zero. Efforts to quantify and standardize education are so woefully flawed it's a wonder that anyone bothers to take the practice seriously anymore. There are no absolutes. Well, except one. Jeb Bush totally fucked up Florida education.

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Thomas Francis

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