BOSTON (AP) — As his party struggles through the latest Washington crisis, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is calling on elected leaders to improve a national education system he says is “woefully behind the times.”

Bush, who has not ruled out a Republican presidential bid in 2016, endorsed school vouchers, performance-based pay for teachers and the end of teacher tenure among other reforms on Thursday, the first day of an education summit in Boston hosted by his nonprofit organization. He also chided critics of the so-called common core curriculum, which sets uniform benchmarks for reading, writing and math.

“What I want to hear from them is more than just opposition. I want to hear their solutions for the hodgepodge of dumbed-down state standards that have created group mediocrity in our schools,” Bush said. “Criticisms and conspiracy theories are easy attention grabbers. Solutions are hard work.”

Bush, the brother of former President George W. Bush, said the GOP should focus on the success of Republican governors and not on Washington, where party leaders are plagued by infighting. Polls suggest that Americans overwhelmingly disapprove of congressional Republicans’ handling of the latest budget standoff.

“Republicans win when we focus on economic growth that creates jobs, and when we reform how government works so more Americans have a chance to pursue their dreams,” he said “The mirror opposite of what is going on in D.C. is the reform and ideas coming out of the states.”

Bush is focusing on education policy in particular as he weighs his political future.

“Public education has become a labyrinth of political, bureaucratic and union empires that depend on a captive population of students and minimal quality control,” he said. “Empires do not go quietly into the night.”

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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