Thursday, November 26, 2009

US State News: Texas Governor Perry Wants States To Set Education Policy Not Washington DC

Gov. Perry, in a letter to Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott, has directed the commissioner not to commit the state to the adoption of national standards and assessments in its application for Race to the Top stimulus funding. The U.S. Department of Education has said it would give preference to states that adopt national standards and assessments in awarding funding, although no national standards have been adopted.

“Texas is already ahead of most other states in setting college and career-ready standards in our schools,” Gov. Perry said. “The citizens of Texas, not the federal government, know what is best for our children. As the federal government continues its sweeping expansion of federal authority from the financial, energy and health care systems, it is now attempting to increase their intrusion into Texas classrooms.”

Texas’ curriculum standards, which determine what students are taught in Texas classrooms, are determined 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.

Through Race to the Top funding, the U.S. Department of Education seems to be attempting to coerce states like Texas to suddenly abandon their own locally established curriculum standards in favor of adopting national standards spearheaded by organizations in Washington, D.C. Texas is eligible for up to $750 million in Race to the Top funding, however it would cost Texas taxpayers upwards of $3 billion to realign our education system to conform to the U.S. Department of Education’s vision for public education.

“The federal government works best when it supports state-led efforts to improve our schools,” Commissioner Scott said. “This is not a state-led effort. States are being misled.”

The development of 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, last month the governor 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 win in the increasingly competitive global economy.

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