Photos and VideosMore Photos and Videos
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush told the crowd at the Republican National Convention that President Barack Obama should stop blaming his brother, former President George W. Bush for the country's economic woes.
In comments that were not part of his prepared remarks, he said that though the economy was not in great shape in 2008, Obama should not blame his brother, "a man of integrity, courage and honor," for economic problems that exist four years later.
He added that a real leader would accept responsibility for his own policies and that he was glad he could get those comments "off my chest" before segueing into his education-heavy speech that echoed other speakers' calls for broader school choice.
"The sad truth is that equality of opportunity doesn't exist in many of our schools. We give some kids a chance, but not all," he said. "That failure is the great moral and economic issue of our time. And it's hurting all of America. I believe we can meet this challenge."
He listed a number of steps he said would improve education across the country, including raising standards for teachers and students, using rewards to incentivize improvement and giving parents the right to decide where their children are educated.
"Governor Romney gets it," he said. "He believes parents—regardless of zip code or income—should be able to send their child to the school that fits them best."
That belief, he said, had created conflict between Romney and teachers' unions, which he suggested worked against the interests of students.
"You can either help the politically powerful unions. Or you can help the kids," he said. "Now, I know it's hard to take on the unions. They fund campaigns. They're well-organized ... But you and I know who deserves a choice. Governor Romney knows it, too."
Several other speakers took on the subject of education at the RNC, including Condoleezza Rice, who called education and schools choice "the civil rights struggle of our day," during remarks Wednesday night.
Romney has said that he would "expand parental choice in an unprecedented way," during a speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in May. He outlined a plan that would overhaul the current system and allow students to attend any school they choose—public, private, online or charter—with the expectation that competition would drive all schools to raise their standards. The federal government would no longer be responsible for turning around low-performing schools.
Margaret Spellings, who served as education secretary under President George W. Bush, has criticized Romney's proposals, which she said are "untried and untested," according to the New York Times. Teachers' unions have echoed Spellings' criticism and rallied their members to keep Romney out of the White House.