The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX

Opinion

July 12, 2013

Future governor needs to focus on education

GREENVILLE — Texans should be glad Rick Perry has decided to not run in the upcoming Texas gubernatorial election. Since he assumed the governorship in December of 2000, Perry has consolidated Republican power across the state and helped Texas’ economy grow into one of the strongest in the world.

But, after 13 years, it’s clear that Texas is ready for new leadership. While Perry led our state through one of the most difficult economic declines in our country’s history, his lack of emphasis on improving Texas schools and colleges has left our state’s school system in rough shape.

As our local superintendents have often pointed out, both in stories we’ve printed and before the Texas Legislature in Austin, our state does not equitably fund schools and places far too much emphasis on standardized tests. The result? The largest percentage of adults without high school diplomas in the United States, a midde-of-the-pack graduation rate and an unstable budget for schools and universities.

It isn’t that Gov. Perry’s education policies were bad, necessarily. It’s that he didn’t have a clear, unwavering commitment to improving Texas schools. Former governor George W. Bush made Texas education a priority, and while his federal No Child Left Behind Act has not had the effect he desired, it was clear that providing our state’s youths with a quality education that prepared them for college or vocational schools was one of Bush’s main goals.

Encouraging businesses to come to Texas is a great thing, but we must have an educated population ready to fill those jobs. Well-educated Texans benefit our economy and state in so many ways, including paying property taxes that build right back into the school system, while high school dropouts and others that have difficulty finding work are a strain on our state’s social services.

Perry is certainly not entirely to blame for the Texas school system’s current state. And, there are plenty of schools, both here in Hunt County and across the state that have been able to provide a quality education despite the funding and resource obstacles they’ve had to overcome.

But, after three full terms, it’s time for Texans to elect a new governor who can emphasize strengthening our school system through more sensible standardized testing, a better funding mechanism and a stable budget for both school systems and universities.

We hope that Texas voters make these attributes a priority when they vote in next year’s gubernatorial race.

This opinion expressed here is that of the Herald-Banner editorial board. The board can be reached at editor@heraldbanner.com.

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