Jeb Bush Unveils Education Plan on MLK Jr. Day

POLITICO Pro reports that Former Florida Gov. and 2016 Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush presented an extensive school choice-centric education plan with proposals that would allow parents to spend government dollars on the pre-K program of their choice and give college students a $50,000 line of credit to pay tuition.

Bush revealed his plan on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, invoking education as a civil rights issue. His plan also includes allowing federal dollars for schools with many low-income students to follow a child to a new school and doubling federal support for charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately run. His campaign said the plan is budget neutral, and it would cut the federal Education Department by 50 percent, but much of what he wants would likely require congressional approval.

The plan ¬†builds on Bush’s time as “education governor” in Florida, where he oversaw the creation of some of the nation’s first school voucher programs and was the founder of the state’s first charter school.

According to a post on Medium, Bush said his plan honors King’s legacy, and that “ensuring every individual has access to a quality education is the great civil rights challenge of our time.”

Bush’s plan addresses in detail K-12 education, which has not been a main focus in the election. However, some of his proposals are not supported by Democrats or teacher unions, which include spending tax dollars on private schools.

His plan would also strengthen the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program that provides vouchers to low-income students in the nation’s capital.

Overall, Bush said his plan gives states more flexibility and would encourage quality teaching by giving schools whose teachers achieve good results for low-income students more money.

“Right now, too many regulations drown the system in compliance costs, wasting valuable resources. We need to give states the flexibility to reform and innovate to meet the unique needs of their students,” Bush said.

He supports allowing 529 college savings accounts to be converted into education saving accounts that could be used to fund K-12 schooling and later college or job training. Bush would also allow states to deposit $2,500 each year into the account of every child under 5 from a low-income family. And anyone could contribute to a student’s account and the contribution that would be tax-deductible.

As part of an education savings account, he said he wants to give all high school graduates access to a $50,000 that they could use for educational and skill-building programs. Students would then repay 1 percent of their income for 25 years for every $10,000 they spend.

“As governor of Florida,” Bush wrote, “I increased student achievement across the board, particularly for those most at risk, and as president, I will do the same.”