Ahead of education summit, Jeb Bush stays mum about 2016

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush addresses the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012.
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Updated: 10:05 a.m. ET

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, whose name is already being mentioned for a 2016 presidential bid, met with former advisers this week while in Washington, D.C., according to the National Review , though he remains mum about his plans for the future.

Bush, who is in Washington hosting an education summit on behalf of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, which he founded to help further his educational agenda, told the National Review he's "here to catch up with folks and promote education reform."

"We have an alumni group that I like keeping in touch with," he said. "I'm here to focus on educational reform, and that's what I'm going to tell people."

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  • According to the Review, Neil Newhouse, Mitt Romney's campaign pollster, was among the group with whom he met, in addition to a handful of Florida political operatives.

    Bush's two-day summit, which kicked off this morning, is hosting a handful of big names in education, including Education Secretary Arne Duncan and former Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education Joel Klein. Former Secretary of State Condolleezza Rice will also be in attendance.

    In his remarks opening the summit Tuesday morning, Bush urged educators and lawmakers to "to recognize that we have a huge problem" with income gaps in the U.S., and argued it's tougher than ever for those born into poverty to climb out of it.

    "I think we can all share the belief that there is one fact that we know for certain could change this course," he told the audience. "That is to assure that we move to a child-centered education system where we have no excuses for the fact that we have these big education gaps that will yield income gaps and lives that are constrained because people don't have the power of knowledge."

    He stressed the need to push for high standards for all students, to implement "robust accountability" for schools, "where there's a different consequence when you have success and improvmenet or excellence compared to mediocrity and failure," to implement a strong teacher evaluation system, to embrace technology in the classroom, and to provide ample "student choice" for students.

    "There will be pushbacks galore going forward, but if we stay true to these five principles, five ideas, and we're faithful in our implementation, we can reverse this trend and shake the complacency that exists in our country," he said.

    The former governor - also the son of former President George H. W. Bush and brother of former President George W. Bush - has been vocal in recent years about pushing his controversial educational agenda, which he laid out at the Republican National Convention in Tampalast summer.

    As a recent Reuters report points out, however, many education advocates question the educational gains Bush touts having made during his tenure as Florida governor, some of which were shortlived, pointing to local budget surpluses and small class sizes rather than his programs as the recent for some improvements in student test scores. Moreover, his Foundation for Excellence has joined up with for-profit corporations to push hard for online learning, a method which many say is proven to be ineffective in improving test scores among students, leading some to wonder whether the contributing corporations are acting in the interest of the students of their own financial benefits.