Having been involved in education reform for some time, I know that it’s easy to end up getting frustrated and feeling like it’s just too difficult to accomplish anything. Often even common-sense ideas like tenure reform, higher standards and technology can get quickly shot down. Frankly, I didn’t have high expectations for the National Education Reform Summit held earlier this week in Washington, but I was pleasantly surprised. Shocked really. I saw another side of education politics, one where people who care about kids, and come from different partisan and ideological perspectives, find common ground. My spirits were lifted from the first night when I attended a reception at the magnificent National Archives (which is definitely worth a visit). Former Florida Governor, Jeb Bush, the chairman of Foundation for Excellence in Education, welcomed the crowd. And, Joel Klein, former chancellor of the NYC public schools and an influential Democrat, introduced Governor Bush. Their mutual praise felt authentic, bipartisan and hopeful. Klein saluted the education reforms that took place in Florida while Bush was governor, reforms that were especially helpful to Latinos, and included tough accountability and generous school choice—often unpopular with Democrats. You could tell Klein was being totally sincere. So, there was nothing phony when Bush embraced Klein as “my brother for another mother!” They come from different places but they are in the same family when it comes to kids and schools.
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