States

Tea Party Activist Named Texas Schools’ Chief

By Michele McNeil — August 28, 2012 1 min read

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, has tapped a tea party activist and former federal education department official to be the next chief of the Texas Education Agency.

Michael Williams, who ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. House in the 25th Congressional district GOP primary this year, will succeed Robert Scott, who stepped down after five years at the helm.

Williams takes over at a time when Texas continues to rebuff the feds on most education issues. The state hasn’t embraced the federally supported common core initiative, hasn’t applied for any Race to the Top awards, and has so far rejected offers of flexibility under No Child Left Behind. And the state is gearing up for a major trial over big cuts the state has made to education.

During then-President George H.W. Bush’s administration, Williams served as assistant secretary for civil rights—and got into some trouble when he tried to tell the Fiesta Bowl organizers back in 1990 that they couldn’t donate money to universities for scholarships for black students. (The Bush administration later backpedaled.) Most recently, he was an elected commissioner of the Texas Railroad Commission.

Williams’ deputy will be a longtime TEA official—Lizzette González Reynolds, who has been the deputy commissioner for policy and programs since 2007, according to Gov. Perry’s official announcement.

Michael Williams addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference at a meeting in Washington in 2010.
--Cliff Owen/AP-File

A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.