…And Texas Succeeds When Public Schools Succeed
I am committed to the mission of our public schools. Period. Full stop. There are serious challenges facing our public schools, but we have also seen serious improvement. Schools in Tyler, Chapel Hill, Whitehouse, and Bullard are headed in the right direction. I make a habit of listening to teachers and leaders in our public schools.
I supported over $4 billion in new state funding for public schools in the last four years. Still, funding for public schools relies too heavily upon property taxes and not enough on revenue flowing from sales taxes at the state level. We can and must rebalance the funding. But what is my record on public education? Here are a few points:
Focus on Teachers
Public schools need more freedom to hire, pay, and keep the best teachers possible. And I believe good teachers should get better pay. I wrote and passed legislation to allow subject matter experts to teach career and technology education (CTE) in public schools when unnecessary red tape prevented them from being hired. Now schools all over Texas have been able to fill critical CTE teaching positions with great teachers.
Vocational Training Matters
Teach plumbing in high school? You bet! Learning to turn a wrench can turn a life around. College is not the only way to succeed. Restoring career and tech training in public schools is a top priority, and vocational training is always on my agenda.
Dollar for dollar, community colleges provide a great value for taxpayers and students. Last session, I passed a budget amendment that used existing state budget money to boost funding to community colleges. I have also supported additional funds for UT Tyler, and for Tuition Equalization Grants which provide aid to students with financial need to enable them to attend private, non-profit colleges or universities like our own Texas College here in Tyler.
The debate over public education is as old as Texas itself. That is because it is so important to our future. The work continues!