Gov. Rick Perry today announced that Texas will not apply for the second round of federal Race to the Top (RTTT) education funds. Despite making tremendous education progress, Texas' application would be penalized by the U.S. Department of Education for refusing to commit to adopting national curriculum standards and tests or incurring related ongoing costs.
"This administration's attempt to bait states into adopting national standards is an effort to undermine states' authority to determine how their students are educated, and is clearly aimed at circumventing laws prohibiting national standards," Gov. Perry said. "Abandoning state standards and adopting new nationalized standards would cost Texas taxpayers $3 billion, and would likely weaken the rigorous college- and career-ready standards and assessments already in place in our state."
Since Texas became one of the first states to forgo participating in the first round of RTTT, other states, teachers and education groups nationwide have questioned the U.S. Department of Education's motives and goals. For example, Virginia, originally enthusiastic about the program, recently announced it would not seek RTTT funding because its curriculum standards are far superior to the proposed national standards.
"It would not only cost Texas a great deal of money to abandon our state standards, which are the product of years of hard work by Texas educators and stakeholders, it would be bad policy," Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott said.
Texas' curriculum standards, which determine what students are taught in Texas classrooms, are authorized by elected state legislators and set by the elected State Board of Education (SBOE). The SBOE recently adopted one of the nation's first college- and career-ready curriculum standards in core subjects after receiving widespread input from Texas education and business leaders.
As was the case with the first round of RTTT funding, the U.S. Department of Education is again trying to coerce states like Texas to abandon their own locally established curriculum standards in favor of adopting national standards spearheaded by organizations in Washington, D.C. While Texas could be eligible for up to $700 million in this round of RTTT funding, it would cost Texas taxpayers upwards of $3 billion to realign our education system to conform to the U.S. Department of Education's uniform vision for public education.
Developing Texas' workforce is imperative to maintaining our position as a national leader in job creation and our future prosperity. Texas was recently praised in Education Week magazine for its adoption of college- and career-ready standards, and for holding schools accountable for ensuring students are college-ready. Additionally, the governor recently announced a $160 million initiative to expand the number and scope of Texas Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (T-STEM) academies, an initiative he established in 2005, as well as fund STEM scholarships. Building on successful initiatives like T-STEM academies helps ensure future generations of Texans have the educational foundation necessary to compete and excel in the increasingly competitive global economy.