HOUSTON (AP) Gov. Rick Perry says Texas won't compete for up to $700 million in federal stimulus money for education because the state must reserve the right to decide how to educate children.
Perry's decision announced Wednesday involved the U.S. Department of Education's "Race to the Top'' program. The $5 billion fund will award grants to states to improve education quality and results.
The program was created in the economic stimulus law. It is part of President Barack Obama's effort to overhaul the nation's schools.
Perry has consistently criticized Washington over federal spending. He turned down $555 million in stimulus fund that would gone toward unemployment insurance, saying there were too many strings attached.
Governor Perry's office has released the follow:
Gov. Perry: Texas Knows Best How to Educate Our Students
Texas will not apply for Federal Race to the Top Funding
AUSTIN – Gov. Rick Perry today announced that Texas will not submit an application for federal Race to the Top education funds. Despite tremendous education successes, Texas’ application would be penalized by the U.S. Department of Education for refusing to commit to adopt national curriculum standards and tests and to incur ongoing costs.
“Texas is on the right path toward improved education, and we would be foolish and irresponsible to place our children’s future in the hands of unelected bureaucrats and special interest groups thousands of miles away in Washington, virtually eliminating parents’ participation in their children’s education,” Gov. Perry said. “If Washington were truly concerned about funding education with solutions that match local challenges, they would make the money available to states with no strings attached.”
Texas’ curriculum standards, which determine what students are taught in Texas classrooms, are set by the elected State Board of Education (SBOE). The SBOE recently adopted one of the nation’s first college- and career-ready curriculum standards in core subjects after receiving widespread input from Texas education and business leaders.
“I wholeheartedly support the governor’s decision,” Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott said. “This one-time grant program would result in mandates for districts that would last for decades.”
Through Race to the Top funding, the U.S. Department of Education seems to be coercing states like Texas to suddenly abandon their own locally established curriculum standards in favor of adopting national standards spearheaded by organizations in Washington, D.C. While Texas could be eligible for up to $750 million in Race to the Top funding, it would cost Texas taxpayers upwards of $3 billion to realign our education system to conform to the U.S. Department of Education’s uniform vision for public education.
“Texas has been working to implement research-based education reforms for years, culminating with great solutions for Texas children, and we should qualify for Race to the Top funding based on what we have already accomplished,” Rep. Rob Eissler, Public Education Committee chairman, said. “Instead, Texas will be penalized in its Race to the Top application for not complying with the federal government’s concepts about what is best for the children of Texas. In short, the two things I worry about in education are fads and feds, and this combines both.”
Developing Texas’ workforce is imperative to maintaining our position as a national leader in job creation and our future prosperity. Texas was recently praised in Education Week magazine for its adoption of college- and career-ready standards, and for holding schools accountable for ensuring students are college-ready. Additionally, the governor recently announced a $160 million initiative to expand the number and scope of Texas Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (T-STEM) academies, an initiative he established in 2005, as well as fund STEM scholarships. Building on successful initiatives like T-STEM academies helps ensure future generations of Texans have the educational foundation necessary to compete and excel in the increasingly competitive global economy.
What Others Are Saying…
“I support Governor Perry's decision to not apply for the Race to the Top grant funds, which is another example of heavy handed Washington politics. It’s clear that they are more concerned about expanding their power than helping kids in Texas schools.”
-Sen. Dan Patrick
“Race to the Top is the first step in federalizing our Texas school systems and imposing a national high-stakes test on our children and teachers. This is not acceptable. We support Governor Perry in his refusal to sell our schools to Washington for less than $75 per student.”
-Gayle Fallon, president, Houston Federation of Teachers
“The Texas Classroom Teachers Association supports the decision of Governor Perry and Commissioner Scott to decline to seek funds under the federal Race to the Top program. Texas public schools need enhanced funding, but the limited funding and potentially harmful policy requirements associated with Race to the Top are, in our view, likely to result in a net cost to Texas education. The loss of autonomy and flexibility that are essential to meet the needs of Texas students is simply not worth it.”
-Jeri Stone, executive director and general counsel, Texas Classroom Teachers Association
“The governor is right to refuse federal dollars that could drive down results and hinder academic achievement. While some might prefer to spend their time chasing federal funds at any cost, the price of the ‘Race to the Top’ dollars could send Texas’ school children to the bottom and our taxpayers to the poor house.”
-Michael Quinn Sullivan, Texans for Fiscal Responsibility
“In Texas, we have increased the rigor of our K-12 curriculum to better prepare students for college, and these federal funds come with strings that could undo these improvements and hurt our children’s ability to learn. Education is a state issue, and the federal government has no business dictating academic standards or curriculum to states.”
-Brooke Terry, senior education policy analyst, Texas Public Policy Foundation
“Education should be left to the states and should not be a top-down but a bottom-up process. Texas has an open, collaborative process including public hearings and input. The Lone Star State has invested considerable time and millions of dollars into curriculum development and has set some rigorous standards to which we are committed. This is another federal government bait and switch, and states that buy in will end up footing the bill.”
-Peggy Venable, Texas director, Americans for Prosperity
“While TAB believes that maintaining a strong and competitive workforce through education is a high priority for the state, we support the governor’s decision to keep decisions about our public education system at the state level. Gov. Perry is right to be concerned about mandates coming from the federal government that are tied to this relatively small amount of funding, which will commit the state to increased costs in the future.”
-Bill Hammond, president and CEO, Texas Association of Business
“The potential Texas grant under Race to the Top rules would at most add a one-time bump equaling less than 2 percent of the state’s current biennial funding for public education. The prospect of such a modest and fleeting contribution to the state budget for public schools cannot justify the adoption of policies that would be detrimental to Texas public education for the long term. Texas AFT remains ready and willing to partner with the state and local school districts in the pursuit of education reform. And we don’t need Race to the Top grants, with unwise strings attached, to carry on this important work.”
-Texas American Federation of Teachers