Writing on National Review Online Ronald Kessler offers education as one reason why many common perceptions about President Bush are wrong (full disclosure, Eduwonk has not read Kessler’s book, just this essay). Kessler notes Bush’s reading efforts in Texas and as President as evidence.
As far as it goes, it seems like Kessler is right. Eduwonk does not doubt that Bush (a) cares a great deal about the reading issue and (b) has sought to advance policies to improve reading instruction during his time in public life.
Yet Bush’s concern about education is weak evidence to counter the perceptions of him as incurious and staff-driven. For starters, despite his concern about education, his administration has done a remarkably ham-handed job of policy implementation. And, even if Bush is intellectually curious about education (as many people Eduwonk respects argue he is) that’s not evidence that he’s eager to learn as much as he can about a host of other pressing issues. In fact, it makes his apparent unwillingness to all the more troublesome.