Texas Commissioner of Education Michael Williams told Gov. Greg Abbott that he will resign his post at the end of the year.
Williams was appointed by former Gov. Rick Perry in 2012. He had previously worked at the U.S. Department of Education under President George H. W. Bush as assistant secretary for civil rights, and subsequently served on the Railroad Commission of Texas.
Williams, the Lone Star State’s first African American education commissioner, told Abbott in his letter that he wished to spend more time with his wife after 16 years of weekend commuting to and from his home.
During his time in Texas, Williams oversaw the state’s shift to new academic standards and new assessments. He also temporarily suspended a rule that required state tests to be a big part of high school students’ final grades. And he tussled with the U.S. Department of Education over the state’s plans to use test scores in teacher evaluations.
Williams has generally resisted what he sees as efforts by the federal government to dictate education policy. “I have always made it clear to federal officials that as part of the waiver process [Texas] could not exceed its current authority nor would we do anything to erode our state’s strong commitment to local control in public education,” Williams told the Education Department at one point during his disagreement with Washington about its waiver.
He’s been credited with pushing to close the achievement gap between whites and minority students in Texas. During his own time at the Education Department, he was credited with efforts to scrutinze the overrrepresentation of minority males in special education, and racial harrassment in higher education.
A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.