The speech by education commissioner Robert Scott to the Texas Association of School Administrators on Monday will inevitably spawn considerable speculation about Rick Perry’s future involvement in education policy issues. The remarkable thing about the speech is that Scott sounded a lot more like a policy maker than a bureaucrat. He apologized for the $4 billion in cuts that were inflicted on public schools last session, as well as for another billion-plus in cuts to the Texas Education Agency, most of which were the result of edicts from Governor Perry, ostensibly Scott’s boss, and Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst. Scott ventured deep into policymaking when he told the administrators, “I cannot and will not certify the ban on social promotions unless there are resources to provide interventions to students who need to pass the test(s).” An education lobbyist who was present told me that Scott also expressed his belief that conditions were ripe for a rebellion against standardized testing in the next legislative session. The question that naturally arises is, where is Rick Perry? Is Scott’s speech a sign that Perry is disengaging from his policymaking role and delegating it to Scott?–not that he was ever very much engaged in public eduction issues. Perry is, however, a strong supporter of the state’s accountability system. Scott’s remarks seem to indicate his disenchantment with the current testing regime. It is always a temptation to read too much into these events, but at the very least, Scott seems to be operating on a very long leash, the other end of which reaches all the way into the governor’s office. The inevitable question is, Is Rick Perry still interested in being governor?
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