Greg Abbott Takes Wendy Davis to Task on Education Reform

Greg Abbott Takes Wendy Davis to Task on Education Reform

On April 1, Texans for Greg Abbott released “Spending, Not Solutions,” a web ad highlighting the runaway spending in Sen. Wendy Davis’ proposed education plan for Texas. Not that anything has changed since Breitbart Texas reported on Davis’ pricy pre-kindergarten (PK) platform that comes at the taxpayers’ expense; however, the GOP gubernatorial candidate Abbott is taking her to task.

“As Greg Abbott travels across Texas to share his education plan–a detailed set of proposals that aim to make Texas number one in education – the substantive deficiencies and complete lack of fiscal responsibility in Sen. Wendy Davis’ plan are clearer than ever. Her proposals lack substance, throw more money at the status quo, and she is unable or unwilling to tell Texas taxpayers how much her plan would cost. Sen. Davis does not have an education plan, she has a spending plan,” stated Abbott Communications Director Matt Hirsch.

Attorney General Abbott held a press conference at Sam Houston Elementary in the Rio Grande Valley to discuss the importance of Texas investing in improving existing pre-Kindergarten quality–before expanding to a full day.

Davis was quick to attack Abbott for his position.  However, the Austin American-Statesman reported that Abbott’s policy proposal wisely noted that “Expanding the population of students served by existing state-funded programs without addressing the quality of existing pre-Kindergarten instruction or how it is being delivered would be an act of negligence and waste.”

Texas taxpayers and parents of PK-12 students who are invested stakeholders in the education process and its ever-rising costs might not be too happy with the Davis approach–which mirrors a lot of the federal mandate seen in other states. However, rather than address specifics, Davis continues to lament education cuts made by the legislature in 2011 which included $200 million from a grant program that helped school districts provide full-day prekindergarten, according to the Austin American-Statesman. Davis neglected to mention that the cut was only a small part of what is now school finance litigation brought by two-thirds of Texas school districts. 

The Texas Tribune also reported that the legislature restored $30 million in funding for the program on 2013. They also noted that the Davis education proposal “called for more” funding.  How much? According to the Davis campaign, it will cost Texas taxpayers $750 million a year for Davis’ universal pre-K plan.

On the other hand, the estimated two year cost of Abbott’s proposed “gold plan” would cost a diminutive $118 million, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

“Abbott wants to improve existing pre-kindergarten programs, requiring them to raise their standards before expanding them,” Education News blogger and retired Texas teacher Donna Garner told Breitbart Texas. Additionally, Garner said that Abbott reinstating foundationally-based reading academies would support true literacy in the PK-3 years unlike the whole language fad currently used that often results in teaching children “to predict text.”

Another way Abbott proposed improving education under his plan was to ensure that the earliest childhood educators would be credentialed in Child Development as well as having a Bachelor’s Degree, KGBT-TV reported. According to Abbott, “measuring student progress and those results would be available to teachers, district parents and the state so that taxpayers can see their dollars at work.”

Abbott illustrated more of his plan’s strong values by likening Texas’ education to the sound foundational structure of a well built house. He said, “Without a firm foundation, cracks often appear in later years. The foundation of education is grades K-3. If we want more children graduating from high school – if we want to elevate our students’ success–we must ensure our students start with a solid foundation in K-3. The cement that solidifies that educational foundation is reading and math.”

Abbott addressed another key issue also saying, “Our public education system is too centralized with one-size-fits-all solutions being pushed down from the top. We have too many unnecessary, unfunded mandates from Austin that tie educator hands and limit parents’ choices. Our teachers need new tools to educate our children, and we must involve parents more in educating our children. All of this combined leads to mandates for mediocrity rather than expectations of excellence. Texas deserves better.”

Although Texas did not sign onto the Common Core standards, education has also become increasingly systemized and uniform because of state legislation and federal accountability as Breitbart Texas reported.  Flexibility may just be the key ingredient missing in today’s Texas classrooms, one that may prove to be priceless.

Abbott said, “We will give schools flexibility to achieve those high standards allowing them to be the laboratories for educational innovation.”

These values, according to Abbott spokesman Hirsch, come from Abbott’s belief in genuine local control of education, empowering parents, teachers and principals to serve our students well.

“We will no longer patch the cracks in our education system every few years. Instead, we will achieve lasting results by giving our schools and families the tools they need to create a solid foundation for learning in Pre-K 4 through grade three and then building on that foundation, all the way through graduation from high school. We will cultivate a culture of aspiration and achievement. That means setting expectations of excellence for our children, our teachers, our principals and our parents, and then giving educators the flexibility to achieve them,” said Abbott at the press conference.

Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom