The first gubernatorial debate between Sen. Wendy Davis and Attorney General Greg Abbott confirmed that their differing views on public education will give voters a clear choice this November. Davis showed why she has earned Texas AFT’s backing as a candidate who has fought hard for restored education funding, universal access to pre-K, stopping the overuse and misuse of testing, and more.
Abbott paid lip service to the notion of making Texas number one in education but, as Davis said in her closing statement, “when someone shows you who they are, believe them.” Abbott has done nothing of consequence in public education except to defend the indefensible school-finance system that has been ruled unconstitutionally inadequate and inequitable. His efforts in court have included a stubborn defense of the $5.4 billion in education cuts that killed state funding for full-day pre-K expansion, killed more than 25,000 jobs—more than 10,000 of them teaching jobs—and caused classroom overcrowding to the detriment of schoolchildren across the state.
As Texas AFT President Linda Bridges said after Friday evening’s debate:
Tonight’s debate made it clear that if you want a true education governor, Wendy Davis is your choice. Since Greg Abbott has been inaccessible to many Texas educators in this campaign, tonight was a good chance to hear him speak about his plans, which amounted to platitudes and promises to make Texas first in educating Texas children. Unfortunately his proposed policies of underfunding schools, robbing instruction time with overtesting, and draining taxpayer dollars from neighborhood schools for private virtual schools will keep Texas in the 40s [in state-by-state comparisons] if not dead last in the nation.