9NEWS on former President George W. Bush’s visit to Denver yesterday:
Former President George W. Bush says he continues to have a “great passion” for education even though he considers himself to only be an observer in politics these days.
Bush made the remarks Thursday morning in Denver after meeting with Mayor Michael Hancock and local education leaders at Get Smart Schools, a nonprofit Colorado group that trains principals for innovation and charter schools…
“President Bush really starts with the heads of the school. He believes they set the tone for the school to hold schools accountable,” Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said. “So he really talked about accountability and how it’s important to make sure the leader of the institution sets the right tone for achievement and accomplishments.
Bush says that an “excellent school must first have an excellent leader.”
“It was good to hear what led [Bush] to really push for No Child Left Behind, and it was about accountability,” Hancock said…
Bush…avoided talking about possible legislative changes to his administration’s No Child Left Behind law, The Denver Post reported…
“He’s someone who has been there done that, so it was good just to get some ideas from him,” Hancock said. “It was perfect timing for me to have the opportunity to hear what led him to create (the No Child Left Behind) legislation.”
Now of course that’s the same No Child Left Behind Act that has been panned recently by just about everybody debating education, from Sens. Rand Paul to Michael Bennet–the former, as we discussed this week, maybe not really forthright about it when it comes time to legislate, but still very much in lip-service agreement that NCLB has been a failure. Bennet has emerged as a leading proponent of sweeping overhaul.
Let’s talk about the optics of Bush’s visit with DPS elections right around the corner.
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock has endorsed the three Denver Public School Board candidates loosely identified as the “reform slate.” In the closing weeks of a bitter, extremely well-financed campaign, the allegations being exchanged between these candidates are getting pretty acrimonious. Would a loss by reformers lead to an immediate halt to reform efforts at DPS, and the summary ouster of superintendent Tom Boasberg? Would victorious reformers support a religious school voucher program a la Douglas County?
In all probability, neither of those outcomes are likely, and any changes will be more gradual than it ever feels two weeks before the election. But with the rhetoric at a fever pitch on both sides, we cannot see how Bush’s visit to Denver–a visit rescheduled from February to less than two weeks before the elections–is going to settle anybody’s nerves. As the face of NCLB, not to mention a former President whose historical legacy in general is, to put it mildly, hotly debated, the possibility of this visit affecting voter sentiment in the DPS elections is quite real. Hancock’s praise for Bush and the universally reviled NCLB is a political risk in the context of these school board races, and his endorsements, that we would never have taken.
(Cross-posted at Denver Pols)