Abbott’s policies benefit students

Alexander Parker

For students, education needs to be a priority in the upcoming Texas gubernatorial election. Texas currently ranks 40th in the nation in terms of college graduates with only 27 percent of the population having a college degree compared to a national average of 41 percent. In order to take advantage of enormous opportunities this state has to offer, students need access to quality higher education more than ever. Attorney General and Gubernatorial Candidate Greg Abbott has an education plan to not only improve education in the short run, but also to make an education system sustainable for years to come.

The first step in resolving Texas’ education problems will be ensuring that all Texans have access to quality institutions at every stage of a student’s educational career. As students, we need the tools to adequately prepare for our futures. Greg Abbott recognizes the importance of access to quality institutions and explained his position in an interview after his speech to the Houston Realty Business Coalition. He pointed out that “Texas has four Tier One universities … California has nine. New York has seven … One of my goals as governor is to have more Tier One universities so that Texas is leading the way nationally and internationally in producing students who graduate from our higher education institutions.” Abbott will pursue many other creative options for making education more available at other levels. A grant program will encourage the growth of high quality digital learning in underperforming schools. Other recommendations laid out in Abbott’s education plans will provide students with a wide variety of digital learning programs. All of these initiatives will allow students unprecedented access to the quality education necessary to stay competitive.

Unfortunately, good intentions and money have never been enough to solve education’s many problems. A system to ensure Texas’ education remains committed to excellence at a reasonable cost is needed as well. A study by the Cato Institute shows spending and educational achievement are unrelated with the academic achievement of students remaining “essentially stagnant … despite a near tripling of the inflation-adjusted cost of putting a child through the K-12 system” since the 1970s. A third variable is missing — accountability. 

Senator Wendy Davis — Abbott’s competitor in the gubernatorial race — has a plan with good intentions and certainly plenty of money to go with it. The Houston Chronicle points out that not even Davis knows how much her plans will cost since her educational platform “did not have a cost estimate.” However, even with all that money Davis’ plans still lacks any mechanism to hold Texas education to a standard of excellence. Abbott’s plan includes many mechanisms to do just this.  

Among the attorney general’s education proposals are two for the creation of a campus report card and a Texas Achievement School District. A campus report card would give parents and students greater information on their school’s performance in meeting academic standards. The report card would hold schools accountable to the standards of the state and to how similar schools were performing. A Texas Achievement School District would provide a way for consistently underperforming schools to get back on track. The lowest performing schools in the state would be put into this district in order to propel them back to providing quality education. The current Republican administration guided Texas to become the economic powerhouse that successfully weathered a recession and leads the nation in job growth. Another will ensure that students have the knowledge and skills to take advantage of these great opportunities our state has to offer.

Parker is the communications director of the UT College Republicans. He is a Plan II and Business Honors sophomore from Plano.