Texas Democrat Wendy Davis, one of the two main candidates for that states’ governorship this fall, says she wants less weight on standardized testing and more local control over accountability in education.
While speaking at San Antonio College last week, according to a report by KXAN-TV, Davis said she wants the Texas Education Agency to alter the way it holds districts and schools accountable, shifting from test scores to “quality of education” metrics.
“Teachers know that a student’s success is measured not by one test on one day, but by growth over the year,” Davis said in a statement. “My proposal will help ensure genuine local control that empowers schools to teach more and test less.”
In campaigning from behind in her race against former state Attorney General Greg Abbott, Davis has sought to make education a hot topic. On her own campaign website, Davis ticks off her key points for a plan called “Great Schools: Great Texas”:
- Full day pre-K education to every eligible child in Texas.
- Incentives to recruit and retain the next generation of great teachers.
- Expanded college opportunities for Texas high school students.
- Less standardized testing and more teaching with the resources needed to do it.
Abbott’s campaign has blasted Davis’ pre-K idea, with spokesman Matt Hirsch saying:
“With each passing day it becomes clearer and clearer that Sen. Davis has a surface-level spending plan – not a substantive education plan. Looking at the numbers, it’s clear that Greg Abbott’s Educating Texans plan is robust, specific and solution-oriented while remaining fiscally responsible while Sen. Davis’ plan goes short on substance and big on spending.”
Davis is a former state senator whose track record is consistent with her education stance in the gubernatorial election. In 2011, she filibustered in an attempt to block $5.4 billion in public spending cuts that were eventually made to public education.
In 2013, she helped pass a pair of bills in the Texas state legislature which would have shortened standardized tests at lower levels of education so students could finish them in less than two hours; and allowed for an alternative accountability system with input from both parents and teachers.
Both of those bills were ultimately vetoed by Texas Governor Rick Perry, who Davis and Abbott are both seeking to replace in office.
In the latest poll data made available by Real Clear Politics, Davis trails Abbott by some 12 percentage points, accounting for approximately 38% of the vote presently.
Davis is attempting to become the first Democratic governor of the Lone Star state since Ann Richards held the position from 1991-1995. If she is able to rally out of her double-digit percentage point deficit by the November 4 election, she also would become just the third female governor in the state’s history, joining the aforementioned Richards and Miriam “Ma” Ferguson, who held office twice (1925-1927 and 1932-1935).