Editor’s note: It’s no secret that Patricia Levesque, the executive director of both of Jeb Bush’s education foundations, has a reputation as a hard-charging ed reformer. So it’s definitely noteworthy to hear her take on possible changes to Florida’s school grading formula. ”With Common Core coming online and a lot of other things being tasked of our schools and teachers, do we need to take a look at getting back to basics?” she tells the News Service of Florida. “So many things are added that maybe the calculation needs to be a little simpler, a little clearer.” Levesque also comments on the possibility of Florida lawmakers considering a “parent trigger” bill for a third time last year, and what one of the foundations’ top issues is likely to be next year. Here’s the Q&A as it was distributed in full this week and, as far as we can tell, published nowhere else.
Patricia Levesque runs the state-focused Foundation for Florida’s Future and the national Foundation for Excellence in Education. Both were created by former Gov. Jeb Bush. Levesque and Bush have successfully pushed the Common Core curriculum standards, school choice and data-driven school and teacher assessments. They’ve also strongly supported the controversial parent-petition bill, which died on 20-20 votes in the Senate the last two years.
Levesque served as Bush’s deputy chief of staff while he was governor; before that, she spent six years as a key staffer in the Florida House. She is married to George Levesque, general counsel to the Florida Senate, and they have two children.
The News Service of Florida has five questions for Patricia Levesque:
Q: What do you say to the social conservatives who are fighting Common Core?
LEVESQUE: What I would say to conservatives specifically is that the Common Core State Standards movement is a very conservative movement. It is actually a great example of federalism at work. It’s where state chiefs and state governors got together and said, “Let’s do something in common that will help us all in our individual states.” And so they got together, over years, and developed a common set of high standards in reading and math, and that became the state standards movement.
Actually, conservatives have always been champions of high standards and American exceptionalism. And if you really read the actual standards, you’ll see that it goes back to original texts, requires close reading of the Constitution and the Preamble and the Declaration of Independence — really conservative documents. And the standards movement is something that conservatives have for a very long time been leaders of.
The other thing that I would say to conservatives specifically is that the concerns that they’re raising — the concerns of the federal government telling our teachers exactly what textbooks to use in their classrooms, or concerns about the federal government data-mining our individual students’ private records. Those are very legitimate concerns. They just happen to be misplaced against Common Core, because those things aren’t true about Common Core. But they’re legitimate concerns that all parents should be vigilant to make sure aren’t happening in other aspects of education.
Q: Will Florida be ready for Common Core? Continue Reading →