The 84th regular session of the Texas Legislature is now history and we will now be sifting through the results and soon enough know what good it has accomplished and what damage it has done, and there certainly have been some of both.
But what is already clearly evident to me and has been so for some time is the damage that has been done over the past two legislative sessions to the educational expectations we should have for our young people.
Six years ago Texas adopted what was then considered by national organizations the best public school standards and accountability system in the country, a standard that for the first time required a Texas high school diploma to truly represent college and career readiness for all of our students. This was a very big deal.
This meant that, after full implementation of the system, Texas would have moved from a “passing” standard to a “readiness” standard, so that when a student walks across the stage and receives a Texas high school diploma it would mean that he or she is prepared for college and the 21st century workforce, or full postsecondary readiness, without the need for remediation.
We had been on a journey leading to this standard and these expectations for our students for over twenty years, and this journey was supported by a consensus of educators, business leaders, elected officials, and advocacy groups across partisan lines.
Unfortunately, almost immediately upon reaching the culmination of this effort, the vested interests of the status quo rose in opposition and have been successful in rolling back many of these advancements, and this rollback has continued in this session.
And we all know that the brunt of these rollbacks in rigor will fall disproportionally on minority kids, many of whom will be “tracked” into lower expectations. For what President Bush 43 called “the soft bigotry of low expectations” for our kids, particularly our minority kids, is the bane of our effort to provide a quality education for all of our children.
We have a lot of work to do to repair this damage. If you want to know how you can help, visit www.texaseducationreform.org.
The legendary former president of the University of Chicago, Robert Maynard Hutchins, posed the question, “shouldn’t every American citizen have the right to the best education we can deliver?” And he quickly responded to his question by saying “The best education for the best is the best education for us all.”
I believe that this is the motto we should adopt for Texas. It truly represents the civil rights revolution of the 21st century.