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Condoleezza Rice Tapped to Head K-12 Advocacy Group Founded by Jeb Bush

By guest blogger Andrew Ujifusa. Crossposted from State Ed Watch.

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has been picked to be the next leader of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, the influential eduation advocacy organization founded by former Florida governor and potential presidential candidate Jeb Bush, the Associated Press reported Jan. 22.

Rice has close ties to Bush's family, having served as secretary of state under Jeb Bush's brother, former President George W. Bush, from 2005 to 2009. She is currently a professor of politics and a senior fellow at Stanford University. The AP reported it had obtained a letter from Bush to the foundation's staff introducing Rice as the group's new leader. 

Jeb Bush, who started the Foundation for Excellence in Education in 2008 soon after his eight years as Florida governor ended, has turned the group into one of the most influential education organizations in the nation, lobbying states ranging from Maine to Oklahoma to adopt a broad suite of policies, including A-F accountability and online learning. But at the start of this year, he announced that he was leaving his role as chairman of the foundation in order to explore a run for the White House in 2016.

In 2012, Rice was leader of a task force at the Council of Foreign Relations (along with former New York City schools Chancellor Joel Klein) that explored links between U.S. education policy and national security. The task force's report, "U.S. Education Reform and National Security," argued that continuing underperformance in K-12 would put the nation's safety at risk, and that the country "will not be able to keep pace--much less lead--globally unless it moves to fix the problems it has allowed to fester for too long."

Citing low scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress and low graduation rates, particularly for minority students, the report recommended a few of same broad approaches also supported by Bush's foundation, including increased school choice and the Common Core State Standards. The report also promoted a national "audit" of the country's schools in order "to assess whether students are learning the skills and knowledge necessary to safeguard America's future security and prosperity."

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