THE BIG CONVERSATION:
With the Texas heat proving too much for anything chicken-suit-related at the moment, focus in the governor's race this week is turning back to the serious.
That's right — it's education week! (Stay with me here.)
Gov. Rick Perry got the ball rolling Friday, calling for the state to commit to the funding of science, technology, engineering and math in the face of a looming state budget deficit. And speaking in front of the National Council of La Raza on Monday, Bill White laid out his oft-noted five-point plan to expand early childhood education and cut the dropout rate. Both candidates, who will likely stick to the subject this week (Perry's in El Paso today to announce a new public education initiative), claim their proposals will improve the state's long-term economic prospects.
Education may have been able to steal the spotlight as fodder wears a bit thin in these dog days of summer, but the shift in focus also comes as news has surfaced of the Texas Education Agency's use of a formula that some say credits failure in public schools. (The Tribune's Brian Thevenot followed that up Monday with an update on embattled Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott, who said he'd be "happy to scrap" the formula.)
White hasn't missed the chance to hammer Perry on the controversial tool, which was implemented under the governor's watch. “Almost all the improvement in Texas education was made because they changed the goal line and the rules the year before elections started,” White told his audience on Monday. “We will never get to the bottom of these problems by simply pretending they don't exist.”
And the former Houston mayor also targeted the formula, among other criticisms of Perry, during an online town hall event with state Sen. Kirk Watson, a fellow Democrat, on Monday night. Didn't catch it? Luckily for you, the Trib's Reeve Hamilton did — as did Perry spokesman Mark Miner, who, in a statement afterward, may have gotten the line of the night: "Texans having a difficult time sleeping this evening may want to replay Bill White’s comments."
- Still on education: The Texas Freedom Network's Education Fund is set to release statewide polling data on the "education culture war" (read: the State Board of Education) today.
- Gov. Rick Perry appeared on the FOX Business Network on Monday night, saying he stood by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's decision to cancel a border governors' meeting in response to a planned boycott.
- The story of that wacky state Senate seat in Waco, formerly held by Kip Averitt, is still playing out, as Democrats debate whether or not to nominate a candidate.
Candidate loses spot on ESPN radio show — Austin American-Statesman
Texas, hospitals work to address nurse shortage — The Dallas Morning News
Texas Teachers pension fund invests in bankrupt mall giant — Austin American-Statesman
Texas Community Colleges Try 'Achieving The Dream' — The Texas Tribune