Jeb Bush Foundation's Links to Policymakers, Companies Draws Fire
CONNECTING DOTS FOR A FEE: Jeb Bush's Foundation for Excellence in Education (FEE) came under scrutiny last week after the nonprofit watchdog, In the Public Interest, released thousands of emails detailing conversations involving the organization, its corporate donors, and state education policymakers.
As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, FEE does not have to disclose its donors; however, The Washington Post notes that FEE has received funding from the likes of K12, Pearson, Amplify, and College Board. FEE's stance on school reform, which includes a push for online education, school choice, and standardized testing is often in the interest of its benefactors.
In New Mexico, FEE acted as a broker to organize meetings between its corporate donors and members of an affiliate program, Chiefs for Change. (Chiefs for Change members are described as "state superintendents and education department directors with significant authority over purchasing and policy in their states.")
Maine moved the FEE policy agenda through legislation and executive order that would remove barriers to online education and in some cases would require online classes -- including eliminating class size caps and student-teacher ratios, allowing public dollars to flow to online schools and classes, eliminate ability of local school districts to limit access to virtual schools.
In Florida, FEE helped write legislation that would increase the use of a proprietary test (FCAT) under contract to Pearson, an FEE donor.
FEE CEO Patricia Levesque urged state officials to introduce SendHub, a communications tool, into their state's schools. News reports indicate that Levesque's boss, Jeb Bush, is an investor in SendHub.
If you'd like to do your own sleuthing, all of the emails are available here with search capability.