Radio Address - November 21, 2003
Gov. Rick Perry
Date: November 21, 2003
Topic: Texas High School Project
My fellow Texans
As we usher in a new era of higher standards, tougher tests and a more rigorous curriculum, we face the challenge of lowering the dropout rate, improving college attendance and ensuring students are prepared to succeed in the classroom and the 21st century marketplace.
That is why our state - in partnership with several private foundations - has launched one of the largest public-private initiatives of its kind to improve underperforming high schools.
With roughly $65 million donated by the Gates Foundation, the Dell Foundation, and other generous foundations such as the Communities Foundation of Texas, plus another $65 million put forward by the State of Texas, we're taking unprecedented steps to improve the learning environment for at risk students through the Texas High School Project.
With this initiative, state dollars will be directed toward underperforming high schools in 140 school districts. The additional private foundation dollars will then be directed toward many of the underperforming schools within these districts.
Over the past few years, because of new accountability measures, a $6 billion increase in education funding, a renewed focus on the teaching of core subjects like reading, math and science and record teacher pay raises, we have seen clear and verifiable improvement among our students.
But with a new TAKS test requiring students to master a wider range of knowledge and a new emphasis on students taking college-prep courses beginning next year, we must double our efforts to prepare our students for success. The $65 million commitment made by the state will have a positive impact on every student who must re-take the TAKS. That's because each of those students will receive an individual graduation plan prepared by their school and a personalized study guide provided by the state.
Our focus has long been on bringing students up to the minimum standard. I envision a new approach where schools earn additional funding based on the number of students who meet the maximum standard.
Excellence at Texas high schools must not be confined to what happens under the Friday Night Lights. It must be our mission every day in every high school classroom. And this $130 million high school reform plan will provide new resources and new tools to ensure students complete their studies, attend college and achieve their dreams.