Three of the four candidates vying for the top two offices in Texas spent the day in Austin last Thursday laying out each of their visions for public education at an teachers conference in Austin. Republican lieutenant governor nominee Dan Patrick was invited but declined the invitation.
The Association of Texas Professional Educators is the largest independent teacher’s association in the United States, and teachers represent a large block of Texas’ voting population.
Democratic gubernatorial nominee Wendy Davis stressed the need for the state to take care of it’s teachers.
“As your governor I commit to you that I will continue to do as I have done these past six years," Davis said. "I will carry your voices with me, I will consider the challenges that you face in your classrooms every day. And I will see you for who you are: people who are committed to making a difference in the lives of children across our state.”
One of those challenges Davis said she would consider is the elimination of federal high-stakes testing requirements for elementary and middle school students. She also told teachers she wanted to restore public education funding and access to all-day pre-K for every child.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott also supports eliminating high stakes testing and returning the control of the classroom back to teachers.
"I’ve heard our public education is too centralized, with a one-size-fits-all mandate being pushed down from the top," Abbott said. "We need to reorder our priorities and that starts with putting trust in educators and I have an education plan that does just that.”
Abbott also committed to fully funding and maintaining the Teacher Retirement System of Texas.
Leticia Van De Putte, who is running for lieutenant governor on the Democratic ticket, said the state of Texas needs to revamp the school finance system and how individual schools and programs are funded.
"The framers of our constitution knew that to keep a representative democracy strong the bedrock of that is an educated citizenry," Van De Putte said. "The bedrock of any free country is the education of the next generation, not just the current generation but the next generation. And so it should all be about: how do we get the right resources to our classrooms?"
All three candidates laid out their education platforms to teachers hoping to win favor in the fall election.