Jeb Bush Gave This Black Community a Charter School. Then He Moved On.
MIAMI — Recovering from an ego-bruising election loss, Bush was looking for chances to soften his image as a callous Republican who proclaimed he would do “probably nothing” as governor to help African Americans. As a private citizen likely to run for governor again in 1998, Bush created the Liberty City Charter School as a way to educate black children from Miami’s poorest neighborhoods. The school would give him a way to mend ties with the black community while testing a controversial, conservative education theory that was drawing the ire of teachers unions.
As he runs for president nearly two decades later, Bush points to his time working on the school as evidence of his early commitment to a reform agenda. He has said the experience “still shapes the way I see the deep-seated challenges facing urban communities today.” He points to the school’s opening as “one of the happiest, proudest moments of my life.”