Just in case you needed another reason to love Texas, Governor Rick Perry has given us one. Yesterday, Perry signed education reforms into law which will shake up graduation requirements and put less emphasis on testing. By signing House Bills 5, 809, 842, and 3662, as well as Senate Bill 441, Perry achieved a significant overhaul of public education.
Currently, students in Texas have to pass fifteen tests to graduate. Under the new legislation, that number will be reduced to five. Students such as sixteen year-old Macala Carroll are excited about the upcoming changes. “I feel that the test shouldn’t judge or break our future,” Carroll said Monday. “All the hard work that I’ve put in this school year … shouldn’t be destroyed by a few questions that aren’t even written properly.” Educators felt that such a heavy test load shifted the focus from teaching to test preparation, which was not in the best interests of the students.
These measures also give students the flexibility to pursue the paths which they find to be the best fit for them, even if that means career or vocational courses rather than a college path. SB441, for example, creates the Texas Fresh Start Program, a workplace readiness initiative. These bills find the “appropriate balance between our need for rigorous academic standards and the students’ need for flexibility.” said Perry.
One thing that won’t be changing, however, are Texas’ high standards of education. “If there’s one thing to remember today, it’s that Texas refuses to dilute our academic standards in any way, because our standards are working,” Perry said. The fact that education in Texas is working can hardly be argued. Texas has one of the best graduation rates in the country, with 86% of students earning a high school diploma. It also has the highest rates of black and latino high school graduation in the country. As they currently spend very little per student relative to other states, it’s important for those funds to be going where they will do the most good for local kids.
Implementation of these laws will take time, but Texas is on the right track. Other states should take a cue from Texas. Students are doing well, but lawmakers there are still looking for innovative ways to prepare students for success after graduation and a changing workforce. This kind of real education reform is what America needs, not the one-size-fits-all education standards which are currently being pushed onto American children. We Americans thrive when given the opportunities to do so, and Texas is giving children just those opportunities. Way to go, Texas! Again.