Published August 30, 2012
The following is a transcript of former Fla. Gov. Jeb Bush's speech at the Republican National Convention on Aug. 30, 2012.
SPEAKER: FORMER GOV. JEB BUSH, R-FLA.
BUSH: Thank you. Thank you all very much.
Thank you! Welcome to Florida.
Before I began my remarks, I have something personal I
would like to share with you. I've been so blessed to be part
of a family that has committed its life to public service.
My granddad and my father have been incredible role models
for meat and served our country honorably. And My brother,
well, I love my brother.
He is a man of integrity, courage, and honor, and during
incredibly challenging times, he kept us say safe.
So, Mr. President, it is time to stop blaming your
predecessor for your failed economic policies.
You were dealt a tough hand, but your policies have not
worked. In the fourth year of your presidency, a real leader
would accept responsibility for his actions, and you haven't
Now that I've gotten that off my chest, let's talk a little
bit about our kids and education. This election is about the
future of this nation. We can shape that future with what we do
here. With what we do on November 6th. We can restore
America's greatness. That starts with a strong economy, a smart
energy policy, lower deficits, and a president who puts
America's workers and job creators first.
But to have a great future, a secure future, a future that
is equal to our potential as a nation, we need to do something
else. We must make sure that our children and grandchildren are
ready for the world we are shaping today.
It starts in our homes, in our communities, and especially
in our schools. As a candidate and governor, I visited over 400
Florida schools. I saw children read for their first sentences,
solved their first long division problems, explore the miracles
of chemistry and physics. That's the essence of education.
Students getting a chance at a future. There are many reasons
to believe America's future is bright, but also reasons to
worry. Of 34 advanced nations in the world, American students
ranked 17th in science, 25th in math. Only one-quarter of
high-school graduates are ready for their next steps.
China and India produced eight times more engineering
students each year than the United States. This is a moral cost
to our country, our failing schools need to be fixed.
We say that every child in America has an equal opportunity
, but tell that to a kid in whose classroom learning is not
respected. Tell that to a parent stuck at a school where there
is no leadership. Tell that to young, talented teacher who just
got laid off because she didn't have tenure. The sad truth is
that equality of opportunity doesn't exist in many of our
schools. We give some kids a chance, but not all. That failure
is the great moral and economic issue of our time and it is
hurting all of America.
I believe we can meet this challenge. We need to set high
standards for students and teachers, and provide students and
their parents the choices they deserve.
BUSH: The first step is a simple one. We must stop
prejudging children based on their race, ethnicity, or household
We must stop excuse in failure in our schools and start
removing -- start rewarding improvement and success.
We must have high academic standards that are benchmarked
to the best in the world. You see, all kids can learn.
Governor Romney believes it, and the data proves it.
While he was governor, Massachusetts raised standards, and
today their students lead the nation in academic performance.
Here in Florida, in 1999, we were at the bottom of the
nation in education. For the last decade, this state has been
on a path of reform. Under the leadership of Governor Rick
Scott and local leaders, our focus every day is whether students
are learning. That's it.
Today, more students are reading on grade level, passing
rigorous college prep courses, and graduating from high school,
and perhaps most exciting, those traditionally left behind are
showing the greatest gains.
Among African-American students, Florida is ranked fourth
in the nation are academic improvement. Among low- income
students, we are ranked third for gains. Among students with
disabilities, we are ranked first. Among Latino students, the
gains were so big, they require a new metric. Right now,
Florida's fourth grade Hispanic students read as well or better
than the average of all students in 21 states and the District
These kids -- these kids were once written off, but today,
thanks to teachers like Sean Duffy, we are changing that.
SEAN DUFFY, TEACHER IN AUSTIN, TEXAS: I am honored to be
an educator, to help the next generation of leaders, thinkers,
builders, and entrepreneurs. Sadly, I am part of a dwindling
I've seen too many good teachers come and go mainly due to
poor working conditions and little pay. Bad teachers get locked
into the system, and good teachers leave for more money. On top
of the bureaucratic challenges, what we're teaching does not
always match what our students actually need.
To that end, I helped launch a stem black in my high
school. These labs focused on science, technology, engineering
and mathematics, and help students learn proficiency in these
We turn students away from education each year by not
providing a robust curriculum that helps keep -- that keeps up
with a world in which the students live, and will eventually
work. And at the end of the day, all of what we do, from the
educators to the policy makers, has to be student focused and
After all, students matter most, and that is what counts.
BUSH: Thank you, Sean. I know that Del Vaye (ph) High
School is proud of your efforts, and we need more great teachers
like you. Teachers who don't give up on a kid, who recognize
that every child can learn, and don't waste of precious year of
a student's life.
If you are a great teacher and your students are mastering
their subjects, no matter your age or years of experience, you
should have a job. Education is hard work, but if you follow
some core principles and you challenge the status quo, you can
get great results.
So, here is another thing we can do. Let's give every
parent in America a choice about where their childs (sic)
Look, everywhere in our lives, we get a chance to choose.
Go down in the supermarket aisle and you will find an incredible
selection of milk. You can get a whole milk, buttermilk, 2
percent milk, low-fat milk, or skim milk, organic milk, and milk
with extra Vitamin D. There's flavored milk, Chocolate,
strawberry, or vanilla. And it doesn't even taste like milk.
They even make milk for people who cannot drink
So, my question to you is, shouldn't parents have that kind
of choice in schools that best meets the needs of their
Governor Romney gets its. Mitt Romney gets it. He
believes parents, regardless of zip code or income, should be
able to send their child to the school that fits them best.
That has set him up against some entrenched interests.
There are many draw the line at school choice. ``Sorry, kid.
Giving you equal opportunity would be too risky, and it would
upset powerful political forces that we need to win elections.''
I have a simple message for these masters of delay and deferral.
Choose -- you can either help the politically powerful unions,
or you can help the kids.
Now, for those that have been involved in this, you know
it's hard to take on the unions. They fund campaigns. They are
well- organized. Election day, they'll show up. Meanwhile, the
kids aren't old enough to vote, but you and I know who deserves
a choice. Governor Romney knows it, too.
Let me introduce you to Frantz Placide. Because we gave
him a choice, he got a great election.
FRANTZ PLACIDE: I grew up in the inner city of Miami, in a
place where your zip code determines your chance of success. My
only option was an uproductive and failing school. I knew that
could lead to an unproductive and failing future. Thanks to
Governor Bush's school choice program, I got the chance to
choose a better school. Making my education my priority, I
enrolled in one of the toughest high schools in Miami --
Archbishop Curley-Notre Dame.
I'm sure like a lot of us, it was my mother, Carlette (ph),
who really pushed for a choice in my education. I am glad she
did. Her devotion to my future has given me chance to succeed.
I graduated from Wagner College and looking forward to a life of
learning and serving my community.
Who knows what the future would have held if I didn't have
a choice in my education. But I do know the numbers for
failure, and I probably wouldn't have a good chance. Governor
Bush's school choice program gave me a chance to achieve
academic success in a school that was the best fit for me. I
took it from there. Thank you.
BUSH: Thank you Frantz. It is an incredible honor to see
you grow up, and Frantz's story and many others is a driving
force across this nation to bring about necessary change, and
some of the biggest reformers are Republicans.
Governor Mitch Daniels in Indiana and Bobby Jindal in
Louisiana have expanded school choice beyond what we have here
in Florida. Governor Martinez in New Mexico is raising
expectations, holding schools accountability for students
gaining critical reading skills. Governor LePage in Maine and
Deal in Georgia are transforming education by pushing schools to
harness the power of technology and digital learning.
Idaho governor Otter and Superintendant Luna are raising up
the best teachers and separating out the ineffective ones. That
earned them some enemies. Some of them slashed the
superintendents tires, but he did not back down.
Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin led his state...
... to adopt reforms that promote early literacy, and
required that teacher evaluations incorporate student
achievement. In Nevada Governor Sandoval pushed for reforms of
last in, first out, where teachers are hired or fired based on
their years in the system, not in their impact in the classroom.
Governor Haslam in Tennessee is making sure that every
classroom has an effective teacher. Because he is a former
governor, Mitt Romney understands that states must lead this
national movement. In Massachusetts, Governor Romney narrowed
the gap between students of different races, raised testing
standards, and put into place a merit scholarship, the John and
Abigail Adams Scholarship, to give students four tuition free
years at any Massachusetts institute of higher learning.
He is a champion for bringing hope to education, and he
intends to be a champion for equality of opportunity, a
president who always puts students first. So in this election,
remember this. Our future as a nation is at stake. Fact is,
this election is not just about one office. It's about one
nation. If we want to continue to be the greatest nation on the
planet, we must give our kids what we promise them, and equal
opportunity. It starts in the classroom. It starts in our
communities. It starts where you live, and it starts with
electing Mitt Romney the next president of the United States.
God bless you.
God bless our excellent teachers, and God bless the United
States of America.