POLITICS

Jeb Bush Seeks Money, Talks Education At Home In Florida Capitol

02/10/2015 08:00 am ET | Updated Apr 12, 2015

By Bill Cotterell

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Feb 10 (Reuters) - Republican Jeb Bush plans a high-profile visit to the Florida capital on Tuesday to raise money and showcase the education reforms that he started as the state's former governor, burnishing key credentials as he eyes a presidential bid.

With a $1,000-per-plate luncheon scheduled at a hotel just blocks away from the Governor's Mansion, the trip highlights Bush's enduring strength in the largest U.S. swing state, crucial to GOP hopes of regaining the White House in 2016.

Bush also plans to speak about education policy at a school reform conference, hosted by his Foundation for Florida Future.

Other keynote speakers at the event, dubbed "Keeping the Promise: A Florida Education Summit," include the state's current Republican governor, Rick Scott, and top legislators, business leaders and schools experts.

Bush is considered a front-runner in the crowded field of Republican presidential prospects, already a household name as the brother of former President George W. Bush and son of former President George H.W. Bush.

Last month, he launched the "Right to Rise" political action committee to raise money as he explores a presidential campaign.

But as he travels the country, Bush has faced skepticism from the most conservative wing of his party, which is wary of his support for the "Common Core" national academic standards.

Standardized testing was at the center of the education reforms that Bush championed as governor from 1999 to 2007.

His administration created a system for grading public schools from A through F, based on the student test scores.

He also promoted charter schools, which are publicly funded but are often run by private corporations, and instituted a statewide voucher program to let students in failing public schools enroll in private and religious schools at taxpayer expense.

That voucher plan failed in court but was later replaced by a program of corporate tax deductions for companies making private tuition grants for students, now also being challenged in court by teachers unions and other critics. (Editing by Letitia Stein and Sandra Maler)

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