Evidence that Bush family profits from Florida education
For any of you out there who wonders if I stretched the facts when I speculated there is more to Jeb Bush’s insistence on testing Florida school children — and creating new tests to meet those requirements…
Here are a couple of interesting stories about Neil Bush, Jeb’s brother. As the Herald Tribune reveals, “Neil Bush gained notoriety as director of the Silverado Savings & Loan in Colorado, whose failure cost taxpayers $1 billion and led to a grand jury investigation during the term of his father, President George H. W. Bush. Neil Bush was never charged.”
Alvaro F. Fernandez
Bush brother tries to sell FCAT software in Florida
A software company run by Neil Bush, a younger brother of Gov. Jeb Bush, hopes to sell a program to Florida schools that students would use to prepare for the test that is key to the governor’s education policy.
Texas-based Ignite Inc. makes software being used in a pilot program at an Orlando-area middle school to help students prepare for the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, which the governor has championed as a yardstick for school performance.
Ocoee Middle School, which has received millions of dollars in state grants to study ways of lowering costs, is using the software for free.
But a company spokeswoman said Saturday that Ignite soon hopes to sell its early American history course to other Florida schools, at a cost of $30 a year per student.
Ignite spokeswoman Louise Thacker denied the company had an unfair advantage because its founder and CEO, Neil Bush, is a brother of Florida’s governor.
A spokeswoman for the state Department of Education said Friday that Ignite officials had not approached the state about its product. Mike Eason, formerly the top technology official for the department, is a member of an Ignite advisory board.
Katie Muniz, a spokeswoman for Jeb Bush, said the governor has never talked with his brother about the business.
Gov. Bush’s use of the FCAT complies with a law supported by another brother – President George W. Bush. The president’s “Leave No Child Behind” law forces states to use testing as a measuring stick for schools.
Gov. Bush’s education agenda has been criticized by Democratic gubernatorial nominee Bill McBride, who has attacked the governor for his reliance on the FCAT to grade schools.
Ryan Banfill, spokesman for the state Democratic Party, called Ignite’s marketing campaign in the state problematic, saying that is creates a strange appearance. “I don’t know where the money’s going to come from for this,” Banfill said. “These districts are hard pressed to pay for chalk, let alone to put money in the pocket of the Bush family.”
Neil Bush gained notoriety as director of the Silverado Savings & Loan in Colorado, whose failure cost taxpayers $1 billion and led to a grand jury investigation during the term of his father, President George H. W. Bush. Neil Bush was never charged.
Then in 2005
From Pam Spaulding on January 8, 2005:
Neil Bush founded Ignite Incorporated, a software company that helps students prepare to take comprehensive tests required under the No Child Left Behind act. A phone call to Ignite’s toll free number (1.866.464.4648, ext 113) with a search for a company directory by name for Neil Bush gets his extension, so it’s still his baby with the dough rolling in.
Here’s a little more info on Neil’s profiteering down in Florida: Governor’s Brother Marketing School Software (FlaNews.com):
Some politicians are questioning whether Governor Jeb Bush’s brother Neil is trying to use the FCAT to make a buck. Neil Bush founded a company that provides software to help students take standardized tests. Critics say it doesn’t look right for Neil Bush to be marketing his software to Florida schools.
Ignite, Incorporated makes computer software to help children prepare for standardized tests like florida’s FCAT. Students at an Orlando-area middle school are using the software as part of a pilot program. Founder Neil Bush is the brother of Governor Jeb and President George Bush.
The arrangements is raising eyebrows at the state Democratic Party. Spokesman Ryan Banfill says having one brother selling something to help students on a test spearheaded by another brother and sanctioned by the president doesn’t look good. “We think that there’s an appearance of impropriety here,” Banfill said. “We think that in the name of all that’s good and ethical, that maybe Neil Bush should step back and not try to make money off of Florida’s FCAT.”