League for Innovation in the Community CollegeI’m at the keynote address by Jeb Bush at the League for Innovation in the Community College‘s Conference on Information Technology in Tampa (against my better judgment). Since I’m here, I thought I’d try some liveblogging.

So I’m here with my laptop, just reporting it. First some performances. There’s some fun, light, Broadway-esque singing and dancing from a new musical produced by Santa Fe Community College. It’s about a presidential election pitting Walt Disney against Timothy Leary’s cryogenically preserved head. The first number is “the best things in life are French.” A quick reference to this as “different from the recent election.” Does the dissonance strike only me? Clearly not. 😎

Then we have the introduction of the special guest, with some jokes about hurricanes. There’s some talk about how Community Colleges are now important, as we can see because the presidential candidates visited them, and the president mentioned them in the state of the union address to a standing ovation.

Then the president of Santa Fe Community College, Jackson Sasser, (“one of the Texas gang”), comes out to introduce the governor as someone who arrived from Texas “literally with a laptop on his shoulder” (a funny place to keep a laptop). Sasser praises Bush for answering emails, staying in the state during the hurricanes, vetoing bills during the campaign, and meeting with Community College presidents. He says J Bush has given a 14% budget increase for Community Colleges in Florida. I wonder if the people on the ground, who are not introducing keynotes, feel that’s enough. I also wonder if it’s “tied to performance” as the elementary school budgets are here.

There are white cards on chairs for people to submit questions for the governor.

Jeb Bush comes out to a standing ovation from about 2-thirds of the audience! But not the whole audience. Some (including me) are significantly sitting.

Bush brags about his Texan tendency to stretch the truth and exaggerate. In general, his language is almost as ungrammatical, uninspired and pseduo-folksy as his brother. Talks about “I was watchin’ TV…” This seems to be where most of his information comes from.

What’s this Texas business, I wonder–all of a sudden (or maybe not so suddenly) everybody loves frigging Texas. It’s no coincidence, I think, that last night I noticed that Tampa TV plays Dallas reruns every night.

Bush goes on to brag about the practice of holding back third graders. Uses GW Bush’s remarkably disingenuous statement about “some folks want to say that some kids can’t learn because of race or ethnicity. We reject that.”

More about elementary schools, and not much to say about Community Colleges at all. Gives his email address, for those who want to share ideas, as jeb@jeb.org. (“Unless,” he says, “you have a trademark and want to get paid for that idea.” He goes on with the trademark theme “we want to be the Nike, and eat the Ovaltine, of higher education.” Does that mean anything?)

Then stops (after about 15 minutes) to take questions.

Some softball questions–“how did you get to be so great?”

Then one about the digital divide. Bush’s solution? Keep flunking those third-graders!

Next question totally surprises me. Apparently some people want Jeb Bush to run for president in 2008. The question gets asked, and there’s applause! 😯 He says that he “hates the national press.” (even more applause! :shock::shock:) and then says that no, he won’t be running. That’s a relief, at least.

A good question “what do you think about the process of assessing the assessments?” He doesn’t seem to quite know how to answer it. Asks his assistant “Patricia, what’s that thing I’m on? That assessment thing?” Then reiterates that he’s into standards, would like to keep flunking third-graders, and believes that Community Colleges should be “paid for performance.”

In response to some question I didn’t catch, he says that he just went to La Jolla, California, to visit Scripps. He’s impressed by their results in research, because they “don’t function like a university [they’re not one!]. They don’t have to deal with a faculty senate, or the priorities of a faculty. If their administration wants to get something done, they just do it. They’re like a Community College in that way. I like that.” There’s some laughter.

He ends (15 minutes early) after another question or two.

People seem to find anti-intellectualism and arrogant ignorance endearing and admirable. It doesn’t matter which Bush it comes from, a lot of people just eat it up with a spoon.