DALLAS, Texas — Greg Abbott and Wendy Davis, the Republican and Democratic candidates for Texas governor, respectively, continue to share very different public education visions. It was again evident when Abbott, current Texas Attorney General, and Sen. Davis (D-Fort Worth) spoke at the opening day of the annual Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) and Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) joint conference held at the Dallas Convention Center, September 26-28.
Each shared their viewpoints with a few thousand Texas education professionals. Davis spoke first. She opened with her usual criticism of Abbott, calling upon him as the state’s current Attorney General to drop the state’s legal appeal of the public school finance ruling. In Austin, district Judge John Dietz ruled on the side of 600-plus school districts and the state is appealing that decision.
During their September 19 debate, Breitbart Texas reported that Davis melted down on this very subject. She accused Abbott of being the only thing “coming between our children and appropriate funding of their schools.” In response, Abbott said,”There’s actually another thing coming between me and settling that lawsuit. That is a law that you voted to pass in 2011 that removes from the Attorney General the ability to settle lawsuits just like this.”
At TASB/TASA, Davis remained true blue to Big Government, telling educators that, if elected, she wants more state control of education. She noted among her top priorities to take funding out of local level into the state’s hands.
“If the Legislature sends me a budget that doesn’t accomplish that goal, I will veto the bill,” she said, according to KERA, Public Television. She added, “Because it’s time for Austin to stop pushing costs down to the local level.”
Davis pledged universal pre-kindergarten (pre-k) and college loan forgiveness for graduating students who become teachers, the Associated Press reported. Breitbart Texas reported on her Big Education pre-K program based on Pre-K for SA, former San Antonio (SA) mayor Julian Castro’s signature programthat maxed out city sales taxes and not all districts were return customers for the 2014-15 school year, also noting her estimated pre-k costs at $750 million a year.
Abbott, who spoke after Davis, told the educators that he wants to give districts more local control. He said, “Why is it the State of Texas needs to mandate things like calendars and schedules? Or facilities management? Or procurement? Much of that decision making should be done at the local level. I propose that school districts be allowed to exempt themselves from mandates related to daily operations,” also according to KERA.
Abbott also discussed his “gold standard” pre-k plan that takes a smaller scale approach at $118 million over two years towards quality early education. He also promised more resources for pre-K education, offering $1,500 per student to schools that adopt his plan,” the Associated Press also included in their article.
“Texas is number one for so many different things. I think the time has come for another No. 1 ranking: Texas should be No. 1 in the nation for educating our children,” Abbott also said.
Abbott also touched upon expanding partnerships between public schools and technology-sector employers and offering scholarships and stipends for teachers to attend continuing-education courses.
The only thing the two candidates agreed upon was less standardized testing in the upper elementary through grade 12 public school years.
Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.