During his keynote remarks at a Texas Public Policy Foundation event Friday, Attorney General Greg Abbott said the state should get government mandates “off the backs” of Texas teachers and give parents more educational options for their children.
“We must give teachers training, mentoring, support and encouragement so that they can truly educate rather than forcing them to teach to so many tests,” said Abbott, a Republican who is running for governor. “We must move away from a system driven by regulations and bureaucracy to one driven by aspiration and achievement.”
He said Texas needed a hands-off approach to education reform that emphasized “genuine local control." He said parents should have greater ability to choose their child's school and called for increased expectations of college attendance, citing his visit to a South Texas charter school, IDEA Academy, which he said had found success even with the challenges of serving primarily low-income students.
Education is expected to be a key topic of discussion in this year's gubernatorial race. Davis, who as state senator frequently engaged in debate over education policy, has made the issue a centerpiece of her campaign. Abbott has also directed his attention to education through a series of campaign stops at public schools, including IDEA, around the state.
Davis has yet to discuss how she will approach the education reform proposals — virtual education and charter school policy — that Abbott has embraced so far. Offering the first details of her education plan on the campaign trail Thursday, Davis promised to increase the supply of teachers by raising their salaries and helping to reduce their college debt.
When asked at the event about the difference between her vision for education and Abbott's, Davis repeated an attack she has made often during her campaign.
“This month, of course, I’ll be talking in great detail about my plan for prioritizing public education in Texas while General Abbott is in a courtroom defending the cuts that were made to public education," Davis said. "I think it’s a pretty clear distinction between what our focus and our priorities are.”
Abbott will continue his education roundtable tour next week, and is expected to release his own policy initiatives in the coming month.