TEA News Releases Online
Jan. 14, 2010
Statement from commissioner on Race to the Top decision
On Jan. 13, Gov. Rick Perry announced that Texas would not submit an application for the federal Race to the Top grant. Below is a transcript of the remarks delivered by Commissioner of Education Robert Scott during a Houston press conference in which this announcement was made.
"Thank you, Governor.
I have got to say first off that I’ve been waiting for this day for a very long time, and that is the day that Texas educators finally say enough is enough. We’ve had enough. We’ve had enough top down management. We’ve had enough bureaucratic speak and dictating what’s going on in our schools.
I have to tell you that when I first heard about Race to the Top, I was encouraged. There were some promising reform ideas articulated in the very beginning: things that we are already doing in Texas, like trying to turn around our lowest performing schools, trying to make sure that every classroom has the best and most effective teacher, and using data systems to make good decisions. And that was really encouraging. Even when they came up with the national standards, they were originally billed as voluntary.
And then, we got this. This is the application and the guidance for this grant program for the Race to the Top. And contained within this are provisions and assurances that even after the money runs out, districts would still be required to adhere to the things that the federal government wants them to do.
Now they put out this dollar amount of $4.3 billion dollars, and that’s a lot of taxpayers’ money. The share that Texas would be eligible for sounds like a lot of money – up to $700 million dollars. But when you put that in context of a state the size of Texas, that amount of money would operate the Texas public school system for two days - two days out of a 180 day school year. And instead, they would essentially own the process not just for the remainder of the school year, but in perpetuity under these national standards.
And the Governor is absolutely right – federal law prohibits many of the things they’re requiring in this grant application, including, I might add, the creation of a nationwide student identifiable database with information about every child across the country collected and disseminated up to Washington D.C. No Child Left Behind prohibits that. That is where they are taking this application.
I would also point out that this process, unlike Texas process, does not begin with educators, teachers, and parents. Their process ends with a cursory review from the public. And I asked who owned this process: Is it the Council of Chief State School Officers? Is it the National Governors Association? Both of those entities are not subject to Open Records and Open Meetings Act, so the process by which these standards are being developed will never be known unless you actually happen to be invited to be in the room.
So I look at this, and I hark it back to some history lessons I learned, and I was thinking to myself, way back in antiquity, when they rolled that wooden horse up to the gate, someone inside the city said, “It’s probably not a great idea to bring that inside.” But they didn’t listen, and I’m glad and proud to stand up with Governor Perry because this grant application is essentially a Trojan horse, designed for us to take the money and then hand over our control.
I want to conclude by pointing out one thing. In Austin, Texas today, the State Board of Education is having a meeting, and there are over 130 Texans signed up and testifying on our state curriculum standards as we speak right now. If this were to be adopted, their voices are gone forever. Texans would not have a say in what these standards look like from here on out.
Thank you very much."