Former education commissioner Scott addresses school rally in Mansfield

March 7, 2013 by  

Students from five local school districts gathered on February 21 to perform at a Celebration Rally intended to promote Texas Public Schools and discuss the state of public education after two years of budget cuts.

Mansfield, Grand Prairie, arlington, Midlothian, and Kennedale sent instrumental and choral performing groups to the rally; a reminder of the vulnerability of arts programs in times of straitened finance. Austerity measures introduced since 2011 have seen some schools struggle to fund the standardized tests made mandatory by the federal No Child Left Behind legislation.

Questions about the Texas version of these tests, known as STAAR (State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness), are part of a wider national debate on the proper place of standardized testing in education.

Robert Scott, the keynote speaker at the rally, is a major voice in the testing conundrum. As the Texas Education Commissioner from 2007-2012, Scott oversaw the formation of the new testing protocol, but recently has expressed concern that it is being used:

“… for more and more things to make it the be-all, end-all.”

Scott shared his personal struggles with the 2011 budget cuts, but also his triumphs, such as finding a place in Texas schools for the 50,000 Hurricane Katrina refugees. He defended his decision to exclude Texas schools from the national Common Core educational standards, stating that Texans should be in a position to go to Austin rather than Washington for curriculum changes.

Meanwhile, in a hopeful development, the Texas legislature has introduced nearly two dozen bills seeking to restore educational funding and ease testing requirements so far this session, so brochure printers may yet be called upon to add some good news to the schools’ latest promotional printing offerings..