Here we go again with Jeb Bush’s charade as the “education governor” outlined in Helen Aguirre Ferré’s Jan. 4 column, Smart conservatism is at the core.
He wants everyone to think he was great for Florida’s education system when the facts, as I recall them, are much different.
I vividly remember when the Miami-Dade School Board cut our annual funding per at-risk student from around $8,000 to $5,200. This caused the Little Havana and Hialeah Institute, part of the Cuban American National Council, to cut some of the programs we could offer students as well as increase our ratio of students to teachers.
When Gov. Bush eliminated the Board of Regents and created a Board of Trustees at each university, it was clear that he did that to create political opportunities for himself.
Fortunately, a few responsible citizens, such as Gov. Bob Graham and one of my predecessors as president of the University of Florida Foundation, Joan Ruffier, put together a coalition to reinstate the Board of Governors through a constitutional amendment.
The amendment passed by more than 60 percent while Bush received only slightly over 50 percent in his re-election. Then Bush decided to fill the Board with his close friends, who were instructed to do nothing. Again, a number of us had to contribute money to hire a lawyer and sue the governor.
It took a few years, but finally the suit was settled, and the Board of Governors has begun to do its job for Florida’s universities and its students.
These are the facts about Bush as I recall them. It is clear to many like myself who supported him in his first run as governor that he had little or no experience with unions and decided to create charter schools in order to go around the unions and avoid the problem, rather than deal with them.
Thank God for Miami-Dade County that our current schools superintendent, Albert Carvalho, does not do that and has worked within the system to improve our schools as Bush never did.
Juan A. Galan Jr, former president, University of Florida Foundation,