Published Online: February 24, 2015
Published in Print: February 25, 2015, as State of the States

State of the States

State of the States Coverage: Texas

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Here is a summary of a recent annual address by a governor.

TEXAS

Gov. Greg Abbott (R) • Feb. 17

In his first State of the State address, Gov. Abbott endorsed legislation that would assign letter grades to public schools based on their academic performance.

In a budget summary that expanded on his address, Gov. Abbott said the state should require "that each public school publish an A-F report card on its campus website." The governor said he wants to "ensure that parents, students, and teachers have better access to valuable information about their school's performance."

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott touched on school grading, parental choice, and school funding lawsuits in his speech to lawmakers.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott touched on school grading, parental choice, and school funding lawsuits in his speech to lawmakers.
—Eric Gay/AP

In his speech, Mr. Abbott also called for giving public school parents more choice of where their children receive instruction and from whom they receive it. During his campaign, Mr. Abbott proposed adjusting Texas' parent-trigger law, making it easier for parents to petition the education commissioner to close or reform a low-performing school. "To prevent students from being stuck in failing schools, the state should empower parents to petition to change campus management at underachieving schools," his budget summary said.

In his speech, the governor declared support for creating an Achievement School District to manage the state's lowest-performing elementary schools and provide special attention for their students. Michigan began a similar initiative in 2012.

The governor's proposed budget also includes $182 million for prekindergarten programs and specialized training for teachers in prekindergarten through 3rd grade.

Another $164 million is proposed for digital instruction, targeting low-performing schools, and to help prepare high school students for state-mandated end-of-course exams.

Without offering clear-cut guidance, Gov. Abbott said it's urgent that the state resolve decades-old lawsuits over school funding.

"I think we can all agree it's time to put school finance litigation behind us," he said. "It's time to stop fighting about school finance and start fixing our schools."

Vol. 34, Issue 22, Page 24

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