Education remained at the forefront of the race for Texas governor Monday, as Attorney General Greg Abbott met with local educators to discuss ways to boost educational opportunities for all students.
Abbott, a Republican, also picked up what he called a “powerful” endorsement from Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price after attending the fifth education roundtable of his gubernatorial campaign.
“The mayor and I are working side by side in achieving common goals for the state of Texas,” he said during a news conference at the Birdville Center of Technology and Advanced Learning. “I want to ensure Texas is No. 1 in the nation not just for jobs, not just for energy, not just for exports, but also … for education.”
Abbott and Fort Worth Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis, the probable frontrunners for their party’s nominations, are expected to face each other in the Nov. 4 general election battle that will determine Texas’ next governor.
Both have long said education is a top priority.
Davis has taken Abbott to task for his legal defense of the billions of dollars in public school cuts that state lawmakers made in 2011.
“Greg Abbott’s actions speak louder than words,” said Davis, who filibustered the 2011 GOP finance bill that she said stripped too much money from education. “While I fought against over $5 billion in unconstitutional budget cuts to our public schools, Greg Abbott wasted taxpayer funds to defend those cuts in court.”
Abbott disagreed — and fired back Monday.
“There’s a reason why Democrats have lost races in Texas now for 20 years,” he said. “They think they can mislead voters or maybe they think voters are stupid.
“Voters in Texas know the job the attorney general has in Texas is to defend laws passed by the Legislature,” he said. “Sen. Davis’ problem is she continues to focus on the past.”
Improving education in Texas
Abbott met with educators in North Richland Hills to tour the Birdville center and talk about the importance of digital learning in the classroom.
Abbott has traveled around the state, holding similar roundtables in Houston, San Antonio and other cities, talking about boosting the role of charter schools in creating public school competition and promoting classroom technology.
Abbott’s staff said the state’s top lawyer plans to roll out his own education proposal in the coming weeks.
But his education discussion came just days after Davis held an education roundtable at the University of Texas at Arlington to release a proposal on how to improve education in Texas.
There, the former Fort Worth city councilwoman spoke about her “Great Schools: Great Texas” plan, which includes giving early college acceptance for top-performing high school juniors committed to a teaching career and raising teacher salaries statewide.
Davis said she didn’t know how much her proposals might cost but she believes state lawmakers can find a way to fund them by using existing state resources, not raising taxes.
Monday, during Abbott’s roundtable, he and educators talked about online opportunities for students, as well as the fact that every student shouldn’t be expected to adhere to a cookie-cutter, one size-fits-all type of education.
They talked about the need to get students ready for the real world after school — and to make sure they learn on the same type of mobile technology that they already comfortably use in their social lives. They also talked about the need to make sure teachers are comfortable with the technology they are teaching students.
Price, who leads the same City Council Davis once served on, said she was excited to endorse Abbott.
“He has the same conservative values that have brought major jobs and a strong economy to Texas,” Price said. “The growth in our area has been incredible … and the focus on education continues to help us provide a great workforce to our citizens.”
She said he believes he will “continue to maintain growth and quality” that has been present in Texas for years.
Abbott said he appreciated Price’s “powerful endorsement” and said all Texas leaders “can and will ensure Texas rises to a No. 1 ranking for education in this state.”
He said he would like to replicate the success the Birdville school district has found to schools statewide.
“We need to learn from some of the ideas shared in this room today,” he said, “realizing that students are not all the same.”