Teachers, teachers, teachers*

I'm a little behind here (what's new?), but all the candidates showed up to talk to teachers:

Challengers to Republican Gov. Rick Perry took turns Friday trying to woo a statewide teachers group by saying they want higher teacher pay and less classroom time devoted to standardized testing.

Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn tried to separate herself from the other four gubernatorial hopefuls, declaring she's the only one facing Perry with enough broad support and campaign money "to take him out."

"Let me tell you, this is a two-person race. You can have four more years of Rick Perry or you can have Carole Keeton 'Grandma' Strayhorn, a teacher in the governor's office," Strayhorn, a former educator, told the Texas Classroom Teachers Association.

She noted the last major campaign disclosure reports showed Perry with $9.4 million in campaign cash to spend, while she had $8.1 million. The other candidates each had far less than $1 million.

"It costs a million dollars a week for TV in Texas," she said, referring to campaign advertising that has become a staple in Texas governor races.

Perry spoke to the teacher group Thursday, when he praised the work teachers do and talked up the Legislature's school finance plan he recently signed into law that included a $2,000 teacher pay raise.

Perry called Democrat Chris Bell his "principal opponent" in the Nov. 7 election and criticized him for wanting to use the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills test only for diagnostic purposes, not for promotion to the next grade level or graduation, as it is used now in some grades.

Bell said Perry doesn't have a clue about what's going on in classrooms. He said he believes teachers agree that it's time to move away from "high-stakes testing."

The state's high dropout rate and poor SAT scores show that the emphasis on standardized testing isn't helping and isn't holding schools accountable, Bell said.

"My sense in talking to teachers all across the state is that they've had it. I think parents have had enough, students have had enough and principals and teachers have had enough when it comes to high-stakes standardized testing," he said.

Strayhorn proposed moving TAKS testing from the spring to the fall each school year. She said that would make it a truly diagnostic test and allow teachers and students to spend the rest of the year working on subjects that need the most attention.

Independent candidate Kinky Friedman said he wants to end the TAKS test. He also proposed legalizing casino gambling in Texas, a move he contends would provide $6 billion to $8 billion annually to help fund education.

"Right now we are fueling the economies of five separate states, none of them Texas. It needs to come back to us. We invented Texas Hold 'Em. We can't even play it here," said Friedman. A number of teachers approached him after his speech to wish him well and take photographs with him.

I thought Shannon did a particularly good job with this write-up.

*With apologies to Jay-Z. I'm guessing 90% of the readers don't get the reference.

Posted by Evan @ 07/05/06 10:21 PM


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