CANCELLED: Education savings accounts: Jeb Bush on the future of educational choice - AEI

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This event has been postponed due to travel complications related to Hurricane Irma. We will post new event details shortly when it has been rescheduled.


In 2011, Arizona became the first state to enact an education savings account (ESA) program, a new form of educational choice that provides public funds to parents so they can decide how and where to educate their child. Five other states have enacted ESA programs since then, creating a new landscape of educational choices around the country. As these programs develop, however, scholars, advocates, and educators must consider how ESAs alter other educational delivery systems and interact with education providers, existing private school choice programs, and the families and students who rely on them.

Join us at AEI for a keynote address from 43rd Governor of Florida Jeb Bush on why customization and personalization are needed for the future of choice, followed by a panel discussion on ESAs, educational opportunity, and new and innovative forms of learning in and outside American schools.

Join the conversation on social media with #JebBushatAEI.

If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.


12:30 PM

1:00 PM
Gerard Robinson, AEI

Keynote address:
Jeb Bush, 43rd governor of Florida

1:20 PM

Jeb Bush, 43rd governor of Florida
Gerard Robinson, AEI

1:35 PM
Panel discussion

Darrell Allison, Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina
Jonathan Beckham, Step Up for Students
Nat Malkus, AEI
Adam Peshek, Foundation for Excellence in Education

2:30 PM

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Elizabeth English at [email protected], 202.862.5822.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries or to register a camera crew, please contact [email protected], 202.862.5829

Speaker Biographies

Darrell Allison is the founding president of Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina. He has played an instrumental role in the passage of historic school choice legislation, including eliminating the cap on public charter schools; creating a tuition grant program for special needs students; and establishing the Opportunity Scholarship Program, which provides private school scholarships to low-income families. In 2016, he worked to secure successful passage of legislation that exponentially grows the Opportunity Scholarship Program through $145 million in funding over the next decade. Mr. Allison has been recognized as an Education Reformer to Watch by the Walton Family Foundation in 2013 and a Diversity Champion for Education Reform by Partners for Developing Futures. His success as an education reformer builds on his experience working with White House officials and congressional leaders and serving as a legal specialist for the US Department of Justice. A former White House intern, he graduated magna cum laude from North Carolina Central University and received his J.D. from the University of North Carolina School of Law.

Jonathan Beckham is the vice president of technology strategy and innovation for Step Up for Students, where he guides the discovery of solutions that balance innovation, technical agility, and business savvy to support the organization’s mission, goals, and values. He is responsible for organizing, driving, and creating the framework for successful execution and development of IT solutions that accelerate and scale the organization’s tax credit scholarship program and education savings account offerings. Before working with Step Up for Students, Mr. Beckham was part of the senior management team leading the development of technical solutions to manage one of the largest virtual schools in the country. He has published work on data interoperability and the development of software collaboration environments and has been referenced for best practices in the management and operations of online programs. He has a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of Florida and is a certified ethical hacker and project management professional.

Jeb Bush is the 43rd governor of the State of Florida, serving from 1999 through 2007. He was most recently a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. During his two terms, Governor Bush championed major reform of government. His top priority was the overhaul of the state’s failing education system. Under his leadership, Florida established a bold accountability system and created the most ambitious school choice programs in the nation. Today, Florida remains a national leader in raising student achievement. Governor Bush maintains his passion for improving the quality of education for students across the country by serving as the chairman of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, a national nonprofit education reform organization he founded to transform education in America.

Nat Malkus is a research fellow and deputy director of education policy studies at AEI, where he specializes in K–12 education. Specifically, he applies quantitative data to education policy. His work focuses on school finance, charter schools, school choice, and the future of standardized testing. Before joining AEI, Dr. Malkus was a senior researcher at the American Institutes for Research, where he led research teams analyzing national education data on topics ranging from how many college students take remedial courses, to the comparisons between charter and traditional public schools, to tracking student achievement and graduation rates in schools undergoing turnaround reforms. Previously, he worked on a four-year experimental study to evaluate whether math coaches could help math teachers improve student performance. He has also taught advanced graduate statistics courses and quantitative policy analysis to graduate students. Earlier, Dr. Malkus spent four years as a middle school teacher in Maryland. He has a Ph.D. in education policy and leadership from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a B.A. in historical studies from Covenant College.

Adam Peshek is director of education choice at the Foundation for Excellence in Education, where he provides strategic support to state leaders interested in developing, adopting, and implementing policies that increase educational opportunity for children. He has provided expert testimony in more than a dozen state legislatures and is a frequent commentator and adviser on education savings accounts, school choice, and education policy across the country. He is the coeditor of the first published volume on education savings accounts, “Education Savings Accounts: The New Frontier in School Choice” (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016).

Gerard Robinson is a resident fellow at AEI, where he works on education policy issues including choice in public and private schools, regulatory development and implementation of K–12 laws, the role of for-profit institutions in education, prison education and reentry, rural education, and the role of community colleges and historically black colleges and universities in adult advancement. Before joining AEI, Mr. Robinson served as commissioner of education for the State of Florida and secretary of education for the Commonwealth of Virginia. As president of the Black Alliance for Educational Options, he worked to ensure that children in low-income and working-class black families in several states and the District of Columbia were given the opportunity to attend good schools. Throughout his career, he has evaluated the effects of reform initiatives on parental choice and student achievement, advocated for laws to improve delivery of teaching and learning, and published essays on how to make good policy to give all children a chance at a good job and future. A proponent of the importance of education to civil society, Mr. Robinson has spoken before audiences in the United States, China, and the United Kingdom. He started his career by teaching fifth grade in a private, inner-city school. He is a member of many education-related boards. His issue brief for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools was cited in an amicus brief presented before the Supreme Court of Georgia in 2013. He has a master’s of education degree from Harvard University, a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy from Howard University, and an associate of arts degree from El Camino College.

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