Former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice is taking the reins of Jeb Bush’s education foundation while the former Florida governor continues exploring whether he will dive into the 2016 presidential race.
Bush resigned from the foundation late last year after saying that he was considering running for president, and on Thursday he tapped Rice, a member of the foundation’s board for two years, as the organization’s new chairman, the foundation’s Web site says.
Bush’s decision to tap her is all in the family: Rice served as secretary of state for his brother, President George W. Bush, from 2005-2009, the first African American woman to hold the position. She also served as Bush’s national security adviser, prior to becoming the nation’s top diplomat.
Jeb Bush created the Foundation for Excellence in Education after completing his second term as Florida governor to continue his influential advocacy of school reform. As governor, from 1999-2007, he launched a series of controversial reforms that centered around using standardized test scores as the chief metric of “accountability” for schools and expanding charter schools and vouchers. His “Florida Formula” became a model for other states. Bush’s foundation hosts a national school reform “summit” every year that brings together like-minded reformers from the worlds of business and policy-making.
Rice is now a political science professor at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, where she was provost from 1993 to 1999. Rice has been involved with education issues for some time. In 2012, she and former New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein co-chaired a Council of Foreign Relations task force that wrote a report about U.S. education reform and national security that made three main recommendations:
* expanding the Common Core State Standard initiative to include subjects beyond math and English Language Arts;
* an expansion of charter schools and vouchers
* an annual “national security readiness audit” that would look at how schools are addressing the country’s needs through increased foreign language programs, technology curriculum and more.
Jeb Bush has been criticized by some members of the Republican Party for his support for the Common Core standards.
A big proponent of school choice, Rice said late last year on FOX News:
“Poor black kids trapped in failing neighborhoods schools, that’s the biggest race problem of today. That’s the biggest civil rights issue of today. Anybody who isn’t in favor of school choice, anybody who isn’t in favor of educational reform, anybody who defends the status quo in the educational system, that’s racist to me.”
Rice did not respond to requests for clarification of these comments, but Georgia Godfrey, her chief of staff at the Hoover Institution, wrote in an e-mail in December that “these remarks aren’t anything new for Condi” and that “she’s said these messages for quite awhile as she is passionate about them.” Godfrey noted that the CFR report addressed school choice.
Asked whether Rice really believed that anyone who isn’t in favor of school choice is “racist,” Godfrey wrote in an e-mail in December:
The point she is making is that the policy of leaving poor black kids in failing neighborhood schools is racist. She’s not pointing the finger at a particular person or group per say but saying that the policy is racist to those kids who are stuck. That’s what she has called the civil rights issue of our time on a regular basis. You are right to point out the actual word, I don’t think she’s used it specifically before.
In an article about Rice’s new involvement with Bush’s foundation, the Associated Press noted that while the move does not constitute a political endorsement, “Rice’s move to take over the leadership of Bush’s foundation was sure to be noticed by the GOP activists already engaged in the 2016 race.” It quoted Henry Barbour, a Republican National Committee member from Mississippi, as saying:
“Of course, they are going to think she must be inclined to support Jeb. That doesn’t make it so. But reasonable people could come to that conclusion.”
Godfrey was quoted as telling the AP: “There’s not a candidate yet, so there’s not an endorsement to be given.”
Hmmm. If Jeb Bush becomes the next president of the United States, could Condi Rice be his education secretary?