According to Democratic lawmakers in Texas, GOP gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott should have chosen a better location for unveiling his latest set of education proposals.
Abbott, who is currently serving as the state’s attorney general, spoke Wednesday at Northbrook High School in Houston, where he revealed a set of education initiatives he would like to enact if elected. He proposed a state takeover of the 15 lowest-performing elementary schools, expressed support for a trigger law that would allow parents to vote on restructuring poorly performing schools and said the state should give local districts more control over operational decisions, according to The Houston Chronicle.
Abbott made this announcement at a school he has continually battled in court. Northbrook High, part of the Spring Branch Independent School District, is in litigation with the state over funding cuts made by the Texas Legislature in 2011. As Attorney General, Abbott has defended the state against Spring Branch.
Spring Branch ISD is one of nearly 600 school districts suing Texas over funding cuts. The district has lost 118 teachers as a result of budget shortfalls.
“Texans love their neighborhood schools, so it’s clear why Attorney General Greg Abbott would want one in the background at his press conference,” Texas Democratic Party Communications Director Emmanuel Garcia said in a statement. “The faculty and parents of Spring Branch ISD know that Abbott fights to keep resources away from their children. They know he is battling their school district in court and the rollout of another flawed education plan is not going to change that.”
Several Democratic lawmakers, including state Senator Sylvia Garcia, and state Representatives Alma Allen and Joe Deshotel, also held an event before Abbott’s, blasting his location choice.
Abbott has previously defended himself against attacks from his Democratic challenger, Wendy Davis, regarding the school funding lawsuit. However, he has said he was merely doing his job by defending the state.
"I can't go back and reconstruct what was done in that legislative session which was two legislative sessions ago," Abbott said in December, according to Texas outlet KSAT-TV. "What I could tell you is as a leader what I will be doing policy wise and that is setting our priorities on a different course."
The education proposals made by Abbott on Wednesday follow a set of previously announced plans to improve pre-K programs in Texas without expanding access to such offerings.
“As Governor, I want to see the Texas education system rise to its rightful place to be number one in the nation. We will no longer patch the cracks in our education system every few years. Instead, we will achieve lasting results by giving our schools and families the tools they need to create a solid foundation for learning,” said Abbott in a speech in late March.