We must replace the Robin Hood school finance scheme with a more equitable system of funding public education that reduces the property-tax burden on our homeowners.
In 1993, I led the successful campaign – “Texans Against Robin Hood Taxes” – to defeat Governor Ann Richards’ scheme to transfer school-property taxes from some school districts to others while doubling school-property taxes for so-called, property-rich districts. It was known as the “Robin Hood” school finance plan, and we defeated a proposed Constitutional Amendment by a two-to-one margin at the polls. Governor Richards then saw to the passing of a similar tax proposal through the state legislature, creating through legislation a system of taxation that had already been opposed by the voters of Texas.
Do you know that twenty years later that flawed and inequitable Robin Hood school-finance system is still in place? And that there are now 374 school districts in Texas still being punitively taxed under this system? Robin Hood needs to go. And, as Governor of Texas, I will lead the effort to get rid of this unfair taxing system, once and for all, and replace it with a more equitable system of funding public education that reduces the property-tax burden on our homeowners.
For the past two decades, excessive emphasis on high-stakes standardized testing and a “one-size-fits-all” focus on preparing all students for college came to dominate education policy in Texas and nationally. Meanwhile, vocational education has been neglected — even denigrated — by the political and intellectual elites in their quest to push all students to go to a university.
By this neglect of career and technical education at the high school and post-secondary school levels, we have choked off the pipeline of skilled workers and now find ourselves with a graying workforce along with a shortage of people with technical skills. The average age of a plumber is 56, a welder 55, a stone masonry craftsman 69.
During my tenure as Chairman of the Texas Workforce Commission, I was a strong advocate for multiple pathways to a high school diploma. This will allow for more opportunities for students interested in pursuing a career path to take a coherent sequence of vocational courses in high school and be able to achieve an industry-certified credential or license in their field of training by the time they graduate from high school.
One size doesn’t fit all. Let’s recognize that young people have different talents and interests. Our schools should prepare them to be either “college ready” or “career ready”.
As Governor, I will encourage greater opportunities for career and technical education at the secondary and community college levels.
Local Control of Education
The principle of local control of education was once cherished by most Americans. Unfortunately, Democratic and Republican politicians — in the name of “educational reform” — have promoted policies that centralize power at the state and national levels. These increased state and federal mandates — often unfunded — have resulted in a top down educational system which has made it more difficult for teachers and educators to do their jobs. Most of us can detail how our lives were changed by a teacher we can still remember, decades later. Unfortunately, education in our country today has turned away from the teacher and toward federal regulations that direct virtually everything that happens in classrooms across America. We have to return control of the schools to local communities and, ultimately, to parents.