PORT RICHEY — An advertising campaign by Jeb Bush’s education foundation features a third-grade teacher from Pasco County who is unabashed about extolling the state’s education learning gains and helping the campaign make its case for Common Core State Standards.
“I have seen what students can achieve when you present them with high standards and the right materials,” said Faye Adams, who teaches at Dayspring Academy, a charter school in Port Richey.
The campaign, called “Learn More, Go Further,” includes television and radio advertisements featuring four Florida educators, including Adams. A commercial that will be shown strictly in Florida aims to let the public know about improvements that have happened since Florida’s A+ Plan was implemented about 15 years ago when Bush was governor.
Another commercial that features the teachers promoting Common Core will be shown nationally
The campaign is being paid for by the Foundation for Excellence in Education, for which Bush serves as chairman. Bush, a Republican, is viewed as a potential presidential candidate in 2016, but has not said whether he will run.
Adams’ opportunity to become one of the “real faces” in the commercials came when Suzanne Legg, the senior administrator at Dayspring Academy, learned about the campaign and referred the foundation to Adams as potential on-camera talent. Legg is the wife of state Sen. John Legg, R-Lutz, who is chairman of the Senate education committee and also an administrator at Dayspring.
“I was honored to be part of it,” Adams said.
Although the teachers appear to be in classrooms in the promotions, they were actually on a set in Orlando, she said. Some Dayspring students also appear in the commercials.
“It’s amazing how much goes into these kinds of commercials,” Adams said.
The teachers also taped an “Ask a Teacher” feature for the campaign’s website where they took turns answering questions about the controversial Common Core State Standards that 45 states, including Florida, are implementing.
Bush has been a strong proponent of the new standards, but a growing number of critics say the standards aren’t as rigorous as proponents claim and represent a federal intrusion into what should be state and local decisions about education. Some opponents express concerns that data collected could violate student privacy.
Florida now refers to Common Core as the Florida Standards and has made a few tweaks to them, including adding cursive writing.
Adams agrees with the campaign’s pitch -- that education in Florida has shown significant improvement.
“It’s obvious with the results we have,” she said.
She points to such factors as the graduation rate, which at 75.6 percent is up 25 percentage points since education reforms were implemented. Also, she said Florida fourth and eighth-grade students are above the national average in reading, with minority students making the greatest gains.
Adams, who was home schooled and spent much of her youth in New Jersey, has lived in this area since she was 17. She attended Trinity College of Florida and has taught for 10 years, the last five at Dayspring.
She said she is now taking some time away from the classroom, having recently given birth to a son.