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Jeb Bush knows the media is waiting for him to announce his 2016 presidential campaign plans. He also knows PolitiFact Florida is watching him like a hawk, too.
During the Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council meeting on Dec. 1, Bush was coy about a potential run for the Oval Office, but the former Florida governor did talk a lot about one of his favorite subjects -- education. He cited graduation statistics in keeping with his call to overhaul the education system, but he hedged in deference to our imperious Truth-O-Meter.
"In your states where you work, where your employers work, a third of our kids -- maybe 40 percent at best, and that’s only because I am going to be PolitiFacted -- so 40 percent at best, are college or career ready," he said.
Overall, we’ve fact-checked Jeb Bush 18 times on our Truth-O-Meter, and we have a few more in the works. We should point out that’s not so much: We’ve fact-checked U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio 76 times and current Gov. Rick Scott 125 times so far.
Still, we’ve been warming up the meter on Bush lately. We fact-checked a couple of claims from a fundraising letter his Excellence in Education Foundation sent out in October.
One of the claims was about how a third of high school students drop out and can’t go on to college or a career. Because the numbers didn’t add up the way Bush claimed, we found that Mostly False.
This new statement about being college or career ready raised an eyebrow at PolitiFact Florida, so we asked his people about it.
The foundation sent us sources focusing on ACT college entrance exam scores, which said about a third of high school graduates weren’t ready for entry-level college courses in English, reading, math or science. We had previously found that using those scores wasn’t an accurate way to measure overall preparedness because ACT test-takers represented only a fraction of all students.
They further pointed to the College Board’s SAT Report on College and Career Readiness 2014, which said only 42.6 percent met the program’s benchmarks. That at least addresses some of the career aspects, which is important because the number of graduates who choose to go to college is declining for the first time in generations.
We also found a 2011 study by researchers from the University of Arizona and Johns Hopkins University that concluded that more than 40 percent of high school students are "lacking adequate college preparation and occupational training."
Maybe it’s the holiday spirit, but we’re not intent on picking apart Bush’s claim on college and career readiness today. He said as he was speaking that he may have some fuzzy numbers, although it appears what he’s saying has some merit.
More to the point, we’re tickled to know PolitiFact Florida is having an effect on Bush’s campaign to make him check himself before he speaks.
Meanwhile, as the 2016 campaign draws ever nearer, we’re pretty sure we’ll have the opportunity to fact-check Bush again in the future.
Washington Post, "Study: Two-fifths of high school graduates are unprepared for college or the workforce," Dec. 12, 2011
U.S. News & World Report, "High School Graduates Still Struggle With College Readiness," Aug. 21, 2013
New York Times, "Fewer U.S. Graduates Opt for College After High School," April 25, 2014
PolitiFact Florida, "Jeb Bush says one-third of students drop out and can't go on to college or a career," Nov. 6, 2014
ACT, "2014 Condition of College & Career Readiness," accessed Dec. 2, 2014
The College Board, "The 2014 SAT Report on College & Career Readiness," accessed Dec. 2, 2014
Interview with Jaryn Emhof, Foundation for Excellence in Education spokesperson, Dec. 2, 2014