Last year, I met a 14-year-old student who is thriving through his attendance at a Success Academy school, a high-performing charter-school network serving New York City’s poorest communities.
He’s an excellent student and debating champion. He also lives in poverty, facing hardships most of us can’t imagine.
And yet the school he attends has him believing it’s possible to achieve the American Dream.
As a decades-long advocate for school choice, I have met countless parents and their children who have been given a second chance because of charter and private schools.
We know school choice works just by looking at New York City’s network of charter schools.
According to a study by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University, “the typical student who remained in a NYC charter school for four years was about two years ahead of his or her traditional public school counterpart on math and four months ahead on reading.”
Our experience in Florida provides important lessons for the nation as well.
Prior to the adoption of our A+ reforms, graduation rates in Florida had declined for several consecutive years to one of the lowest in the country.
During my governorship, we adopted three separate voucher programs and nearly tripled the number of charter schools to spark competition in our public K-12 system.
The teachers unions in Tallahassee fought us every step of the way.
But we pushed back for students and their parents, and the results speak for themselves.
We delivered some of the most dramatic gains in student achievement in the nation, especially among kids in poverty and students with learning disabilities.
I am proud that more than 300,000 students in Florida are now benefitting from a school-choice program.
I am more heartened that our high-school graduation rates have increased by nearly 50 percent since we made choice a staple of our education system.
Sadly, teachers unions and much of the education establishment in America continues to fight against parental control of education.
Mayor de Blasio, a protégé of Hillary Rodham Clinton, has taken up their cause, fighting to undercut school choice at every turn.
While calling New York a tale of two cities, the mayor appears to be doing everything in his power to keep it that way — depriving low-income kids of the education they need to succeed.
The families of New York City charter-school students have not taken this treatment lying down.
They’ve rallied by the thousands under the slogan “don’t steal possible,” and at their urging, Gov. Cuomo and the state Legislature passed a law guaranteeing charters rent-free access to unused public-school facilities.
Yet these schools continue to face a constant barrage of political attacks and policies that constrain their growth.
The Clintons, who have an outsize influence in New York politics, have largely stood by as Mayor de Blasio has attempted to undermine the benefits that the Success Academies and other school-choice programs have provided to low-income children.
Will former Secretary Clinton continue to put the interests of the entrenched education establishment above the interests of kids in America?
There should be no doubt about my priorities.
As president of the United States, I will reduce the power and authority of the federal Department of Education, sending more money and flexibility back to the states so greater school-choice opportunities can be made available to parents and their children.
It makes no sense to force students to attend schools where they aren’t learning.
And it doesn’t make sense to spend taxpayer dollars on programs that aren’t getting the results families deserve.
Few things are more important to the future of our nation than giving our children the opportunity to receive a high-quality education that equips them to compete in the modern economy.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is a Republican candidate for president.