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Jeb Bush Says Politicians Can Find ’Common Ground’ on Education

Democrats and Republicans can find “common ground” on the need to overhaul education in the U.S., Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, said today.

President Barack Obama and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan deserve credit for challenging a “core constituency” -- the adults who work in education and traditionally support national Democratic causes -- Bush, a Republican, said in an interview for Bloomberg Radio’s “Bloomberg EDU with Jane Williams” program.

Bush, the brother of former President George W. Bush, served as head of Flordia’s government from 1999 to 2007, where he was known as the “Education Governor” for his support of school improvements. As the state’s secretary of commerce from 1987 to 1988, he saw the direct connection between the quality of education and the state’s business climate, he said.

“Increasingly, even in the 1980s, people were saying that a quality education is probably the best economic inducement for us to invest in your community,” Bush said.

Spending on education is key to making systemic changes, with a focus on funding priorities, Bush said. He cited the cutback of early literacy programs in many states, saying there are some “really good” efforts aimed at preschool through third grade that would help narrow the achievement gap.

“If you do believe in reform and systemic reform then you need the money to fund those reforms,” Bush said. “There should be no failing schools in America. There is no reason why there are, other than the fact that we haven’t tried something different or haven’t allocated resources properly.”

Bush, 58, last month accompanied Obama and Duncan to a speech at Florida’s Miami Central Senior High School. Obama said the future of the U.S. economy depends on investing in education to produce “highly skilled” workers.

The former governor is now a senior adviser at London-based Barclays Plc.

(The interview with Bush will air on April 29 at 10 p.m. New York time, on April 30 at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m., and on May 1 at 12 a.m. and 7 p.m.)

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