Day: <span>January 20, 2015</span>

Abbott: A cookie-cutter education?


An inaugural speech is not the place for a new governor to lay out policy details, and Governor Greg Abbott didn’t do that. But, in his prepared remarks, as he continued to talk generally about making Texas the “leader” in education, he did strike out against what he called a “cookie-cutter approach to teaching.”

I am not sure what he meant by that because Texas doesn’t have cookie-cutter teachers any more than it has cookie-cutter, or standardized, students. But in addition to having one of the most underfunded public education systems – per student – in the country, we also have an official state policy that encourages excessive “cookie-cutter” testing.

Maybe that’s what the new governor means. Teachers are increasingly feeling pressure to teach to the test – to follow a rote pattern — instead of using their knowledge and skills to teach children how to learn, to encourage their creativity and imaginations, to show them how to enjoy learning and not fear to be different from anyone else.

If that is what Abbott means, and if he intends to sharply curtail standardized testing, then he can be an advocate for positive change in our educational system. If he was simply being rhetorical, Texas school children will continue to suffer the consequences of unfair standardization.

Abbott, in his address, indicated a recognition of the “value and uniqueness of each student.” Now, he needs to also recognize that state government not only has been stifling those students with excessive tests and test preparation but also short-changing them with an inadequate and unfair school finance system.