By Geneva Sands - 09/14/12 02:15 PM EDT
"If they [teachers] have learning gains that are greater than the norm they should be paid more and if they have abject failure they should be out of the classroom as fast as possible. And in Chicago that's not possible right now. The teachers unions are trying to focus on seniority being the means by which teachers are hired," Bush said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." "It's devastating for kids, particularly kids in poverty."
Thousands of Chicago teachers and support staff walked out Sunday in the city's first Chicago Teachers Union strike in 25 years. Negotiations between the the union and school board remained unresolved Friday.
"We need to make education something of national purpose," Bush said. "When you have two-thirds of your children not college- and or career-ready by the time they finish or are supposed to finish high school, and we spend more per student than any country in the world, that is a national problem, that is a societal problem and it really changes who we are as a nation, so what's going on in Chicago is a leading kind of indicator of things to come."
Bush, the chairman of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, called for peer review, student review and "some objective assessment" of teachers.
The former governor was expanding on his opinion piece published in the Chicago Tribune Friday, in which he argues that the "interest of children is secondary to the interest of adults."
"The teachers strike in Chicago is not about money. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has offered an average 16 percent pay increase over four years even as the school district faces a $1 billion deficit. Imagine a private company with that kind of balance sheet being so generous.
"No, this strike is about the Chicago Teachers Union clinging to bargaining positions sharply at odds with the current direction of public education," wrote Bush.
When pressed on the differences between President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney on education policy, he said the "differences aren't as vast" as on fiscal and economic policies.
"The biggest differences is that Gov. Romney believes passionately and consistently in school choice, but they both believe in higher standards. I think they believe in a teacher evaluation system that's being proposed by the mayor in Chicago, which is really the frustrating part of this, is there's not this big, deep partisan divide on education, yet unions and the monopolies are resistant to change," he said.