Wendy Davis' Education Rhetoric: What She Said, What It Means
There was a modicum of friendly coverage on Senator Wendy Davis' (D-Fort Worth) appearance at the SXSWedu 2014 conference in Austin last week. No doubt, she was a vision in beige with matching boots and four education planks on her lap in a polite sit down on “Great Schools: A Vision for the Future." For all that was reported, a few points were left out of the coverage.
Breitbart Texas was there when Davis was introduced as "the only candidate running for Texas governor with an education plan." As part of that plan, Davis said, "Young people deserve a "21st Century education to equip them to be a part of our 21st Century economy."
Apparently, it is a different 21st Century economy where retailers are not closing stores and brand names are not dropping like flies. Actually, she said 21st Century education, 21st Century learning, 21st Century technical resources, 21st Century economy, 21st Century workplace, and 21st Century workforce a lot. She had buzzwords up her sleeve from blended learning and vibrant atmospheres, to level playing fields in the classroom. Davis sputtered promises of being pro-collaborative partners, pro-dual college credits, pro-charters but anti-vouchers. Pro-less testing, pro-government technology initiatives, pro-merit pay and is all for forgiving college loan debt to those in the top 20 percent of students in their class who go onto college to become teachers.
Davis was quite critical of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, her GOP opponent in the race for the governor, alluding to unfunded educational mandates that, according to Davis, the state needs to "step up and take responsibility" in defraying college tuition costs and implement full day pre-kindergarten for every four year-old. She was clear where the cash cow lived and who was paying for all these programs when she suggested "digging deep into our own local taxpayer dollars to accomplish that."
She said she wanted to create "incentives" for school districts to encourage schools to "move forward" in an "innovative way." Davis wanted to explore "incredible opportunities to create the future workforce and future state leaders." So did Aldous Huxley in a novel and on a grander scale than just Texas.
Davis said the state was failing its students in the public education system, a system which is very personal to her. She alluded to her hard luck story that she overcame. "It's a story I want to make sure that every Texas child has to have a better life," she said. Good for her; however, that story did not mention the marriage that paid for her law degree.
Davis recently told the Huffington Post that she was not for the federal mandate, the Common Core State Standards and yet, one of two key endorsements she received in her gubernatorial bid came from the Texas State Teachers Association, the state affiliate of the National Education Association (NEA), whose president Dennis Van Roekel recently wrote an article to NEA membership in support of the Common Core State Standards despite implementation setbacks. The other endorsement came from the Texas American Federation of Teachers (AFT). Breitbart Texas reported that AFT National president Randi Weingarten was pushing her "Reclaim the Promise" program. AFT National supports its state affiliates in the Common Core implementation, according to the website.
Davis said that we have to be visionary about how we get to the place she sees in education; however, we have to wait for the visionary vision because it's on a plank that has not been rolled out yet.
In the meantime, Breitbart Texas reached out to Avdiel Huerta, Texans for Gregg Abbott Press Secretary for his response to Senator Davis' claims. Huerta said, "Senator Davis has fired off feel good expressions to mask her education policy that lacks real substance and solutions. Greg Abbott will unveil a comprehensive education plan in the coming weeks that will achieve his goal of making the Texas education system number one in the nation.
“Abbott has been criss-crossing the state, meeting with educators, administrators, and parents to discuss the merits of digital learning, genuine local control and moving away from a system driven by regulation and bureaucracy. This has given him a better understanding of the needs of the Texas education system, which be reflected in his upcoming Educating Texans plan."
Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom