Gov. Perry Calls for More Money, More Reforms for Education
Gov. Rick Perry today reiterated his call for more funding for public schools as well as educational reforms that will help ensure all children - especially those from disadvantage homes - can succeed.
Speaking at the Mid-Winter Conference of the Texas Association of School Administrators, Perry praised school officials for their years of dedication in working with Texas children to give them the best possible chance in life to succeed.
"I recognize the challenge many of you face in educating students who show up for class several grades behind, including our more than 600,000 students with limited proficiency in English," he said. "This challenge, and many others, require a greater commitment of state money to education, and I support such a commitment."
Perry also noted that he is committed to resolving the school finance challenge "in the manner our constitution envisions - in the confines of the Capitol, and not at the courthouse."
"Obviously, we will abide by any final order the courts issue, but we will not wait on the courts to decide this issue," he said.
Perry also promised to work every day to create a solution that provides a lower property tax burden, a tax structure that is patterned after our modern economy and more money for schools.
Perry also noted that any solution to school finance must not ignore equity, and that a commitment to equity must also be a commitment to reform.
"Despite a decade of progress and gains by students of every background, we still have an achievement gap in Texas schools that will be an opportunity gap when today's students become tomorrow's workers," Perry said.
Citing the 36,399 students trapped in failing schools, the 15,665 students who dropped out and the 889,468 who failed at least one section of the TAKS test, Perry said reforms must be made.
"I believe more funding can make a difference in each of these areas, but I don't believe the issue of funding should obscure the issue of reform," he said. "And I will tell you flat out: we cannot have an agenda for education that is 100 percent about more money, leaving zero percent for real reform."
Perry said the reforms he would like to see focus on economically disadvantaged students, including providing up to $7,500 a year more to encourage the best and brightest teachers to teach in schools with large numbers of economically disadvantaged students. Other reforms he cited include:
* Providing meaningful progress incentives for schools that serve mostly disadvantaged student populations.
* Providing expert help in the form of school turn-around teams that can mentor teachers and review management practices at struggling schools.
* Allowing the state to immediately shut down those charter schools that fail our children and worse yet, those that exist to simply enrich fly-by-night operators.
Perry also praised school administrators for their accomplishments over the past decade.
"But we can't rest on our laurels," he said. "We can't be satisfied until every child in every corner of this state can enter through the schoolhouse doors and have available to them the best teachers, the best curriculum and the best chance to succeed in life."