Jeb Bush in Michigan calls for 'radical' education changes

By Paul Egan, USATODAY

LANSING, Mich. – Former Florida governor Jeb Bush, a likely but still unannounced Republican candidate for president in 2016, toured a Lansing plant that manufactures an anthrax vaccine Thursday during a three-day visit to Michigan and said he expects to spend a lot of time in the state if he becomes a candidate.

"It's an important part of the country," Bush said of Michigan. "If you think about it from an electoral standpoint, I think Republicans need to get back up here a lot. "At the state level, Republicans dominate, but at the national level, for presidential elections, we haven't."

Bush spent about 30 minutes taking questions from employees of Emergent Biosolutions, whose north Lansing plant employs more than 400 people and manufactures BioThrax, the only FDA-licensed anthrax vaccine.

Questions ranged from health care, to defense, to suicide among military veterans, to what books Bush recommends for summer reading.

Bush, who was Florida governor from 1999 to 2007 and is a school voucher and charter school advocate who founded the Foundation for Excellence in Education after he left office, called for "a radical transformation of our education system" to one that is child-centered with "robust accountability" and higher standards.

"The system we have today is holding us back as a country," said Bush, who said the K-12 school schedule is still based on an agrarian model that gave children the summer off so they could help in the fields.

"The economic interests of adults is driving most of the decisions we make."