Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Why Rick Perry's Candidacy Could Mean Clashes Over Education

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Republican presidential candidate and Texas Governor Rick Perry addresses a crowd in Iowa.

Many say Rick Perry’s entrance to the GOP presidential race was only made possible when Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who has made education policy a priority during his governorship, decided against a run for the White House. Now, as Valerie Strauss of The Washington Post‘s Answer Sheet writes, Perry’s history suggests he might play politics over education policy to score points against President Obama:

No U.S. governor has been at public odds with President Obama’s education policies over the past few years more than Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), and it is a safe bet that tensions between Texas and the U.S. Education Department are only going to escalate now that Perry has joined the race for the Republican presidential nomination…

[Perry] trashed the administration’s signature education initiative, Race to the Top, and rejected the administration-backed Common Core State Standards effort (which all but six states, including Texas, have agreed to adopt). Perry also fought with the Obama administration over more than $800 million in federal funds that U.S. officials said could go to Texas if the money was spent on education; the Texas governor said he couldn’t accept any conditions on use of the money.

Perry’s allies in Indiana are touting his education credentials, devoting a section to it on the new Indiana Students for Rick Perry Facebook page:

On the education front, Governor Perry has worked to improve the quality of Texas schools from top to bottom by increasing accountability, raising expectations and funding programs that work. In addition to introducing the largest teacher incentive pay program in the country, Governor Perry has overseen a 43 percent increase in total spending on public education in Texas. He also signed a school finance reform package that provided a 33 percent school property tax reduction, a $2,000 pay raise for teachers, record funding for classrooms and a reformed business tax.

The Dallas Morning News’ Sunday editorial page was not as generous to Perry’s education record:

The answer is not merely asking the public to be in awe of the Texas low-tax, low-regulation model and live within our means as a nation. Yes, we balance our books here in Texas. The state Constitution says we must, and the Legislature sees that it gets done every two years. Perry is often disengaged from that process and offers little imagination…

We saw that, too, in 2006, when lawmakers were staring at a court order to design a new system of paying for public education. Perry was a reluctant participant until his hand was forced. There were too many questions involving taxes, and Perry doesn’t like to be anywhere near that word.


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