THE BIG CONVERSATION:
Remember those kids who would do extra homework assignments — without turning them in? Apparently Gov. Rick Perry and Education Commissioner Robert Scott might have been just such students.
Texas won't be submitting its application for federal education grant program Race for the Top — or so Perry is expected to announce today.
The program has already incited accusations, from the Governor's Office and the Texas Education Agency, of a federal takeover of state education. While it offers up to $700 million in extra (albeit one-time) money, it also puts heavy emphasis on the priorities of the U.S. Department of Education, particularly the national standards movement for math and English.
Texas refused to sign onto the national standards initiative, worth 40 points in the Race’s application, and without those points, Texas never seemed to have much of a chance at getting the money. Justin Hamilton, spokesman for the U.S. Department of Education, said in November, "We’re gonna have a very small number of points that separate the winners from the losers here. Forty points could make the difference."
Scott and Perry have both been increasingly negative on the program in the last few months: Perry sent a hostile letter to the Education Department on national standards, while Scott, eager for wordplay, called the program “cash for flunkers.” And our Brian Thevenot pointed out that in comparison to Texas’ $40.2 billion education budget, $700 million isn’t quite as much as it first sounds.
But it's still a surprise. In early December, it was difficult to get to talk to anyone at TEA — the application process, I was repeatedly told, was demanding significant man-hours across the board.
The move offers a nice talking point for the Perry campaign one day before his first debate performance against Kay Bailey Hutchison and Debra Medina. 'Cause I have a feeling state sovereignty and national power will come up.
• Perry appears well-financed as he, Hutchison prepare campaign reports — The Dallas Morning News
• Medina hopes to take advantage of GOP debate spotlight — Fort Worth Star-Telegram
• Wardens quit in wake of Comeaux escape — Houston Chronicle
• 2010: The year of new opportunities — Politico