Sen. Berger, Stop Trying To Copy Jeb Bush’s Failed Education Reforms

The recent report to the State Board of Education this week once again proved to our state that the Read to Achieve initiative championed by Phil Berger has failed to do what it was promoted to do.

Kris Nordstrom sums it up best from a report posted yesterday.

In October, researchers from NC State’s Friday Institute for Educational Innovation helped to confirm what many educational advocates have long claimed: North Carolina’s Read to Achieve program is a failure. This week’s State Board of Education meeting included a presentation on the evaluation, which served as an important wake-up call to North Carolina’s policymakers. However the evaluation – while rigorous and well-written – leaves many important questions unanswered.

The Read to Achieve program, created by the 2012 budget bill, is an effort to improve early-grades’ reading proficiency by refusing to promote students who fail the state’s third grade reading test. Read to Achieve was based on a similar initiative from Florida and was championed by Senator Phil Berger.

Based on one similar to Florida? Yep. A Jeb Bush model.

From Wednesday’s N&O:

The General Assembly passed Read to Achieve legislation in 2012. It was modeled on literacy efforts in other states, including the “Just Read, Florida!” program created by former Gov. Jeb Bush in 2001. 

Not surprising that this initiative was given so much “support” from Berger and others who share his political platform including Mark Johnson, the state superintendent who is most enabled by Sen. Berger.

But that’s not the only “reform” we borrowed from Jeb Bush and disgustingly made our own. For those who are unaware, Jeb Bush is the overall architect and champion of a school performance grading system that NC models its program after. Those school performance grades are central to the school report card system that state superintendent Mark Johnson so eagerly wants to take ownership of.

And those school performance grades are helping advance a politically partisan effort to privatize the North Carolina public school system that is fully endorsed by Berger.

Public Schools First NC tweets this graphic every once in a while to remind us about the school performance grades:

Budget fact

Those school performance grades place a lot of emphasis on achievement scores of amorphous, one-time testing rather than student growth throughout the entire year.

Read to Achieve is supposed to help our students read well by the end of third grade when they are given the first round of those major tests used to measure “achievement” – in fact, one of them is this:

  1. North Carolina End of Grade Exam English / Language Arts- Grade 3

That “achievement” measurement then goes into helping calculate those school performance grades.

Funny how an initiative borrowed from Jeb Bush and implemented in a way to literally fail students actually helps fuel another Jeb Bush-inspired reform that helps people like Berger create even more excuses to start more educational reforms.

And we still look to Jeb for “help.”

Like just this past June when Johnson entertained Jeb Bush and a multitude of other politicians who have made it their job to privatize public education in North Carolina.



That same week Johnson laid off 40 people from the Department of Public Instruction due to a budget cut made by many lawmakers in the same room as Johnson and Bush in a year where the state supposedly had a surplus.

In that meeting Bush said,

“There are 50 state Senate presidents in the country,” Bush said to Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, after the senator introduced him. “I can’t think of one who has done more for education reform than you” ( 

What he should have said was, “I can’t think of anyone who has done more TO education through reform than you… except me.”

Realistically, the best thing Jeb Bush has ever done for public education in North Carolina is prove how much poverty affects our pubic school students’ ability to learn.










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