Davis looking strong, Abbott looking shaky on education issue

This via Clay Robison at Grading Texas, No defense for Abbott on education.

You could say that Democrat Wendy Davis put Republican Greg Abbott on the defensive in the first exchange over education of their gubernatorial race. But, in truth, Abbott already had put himself on the defensive because he was on the wrong side of education long before he ever launched his gubernatorial campaign.

As Davis correctly pointed out, Abbott persisted in defending an unconstitutional school finance system, even after the legislative majority had slashed $5.4 billion from public schools. Abbott’s response that he was required by the state constitution to defend state laws was weak, coming from someone who aspires to lead Texas.

He, instead, could have demanded that the Legislature give him a school finance law that was defensible under that very same constitution. It didn’t require another court order to point out the obvious unfairness and inadequacy of the current system, but that is exactly what Texas got, despite Abbott’s attempted defense.

Moreover, Abbott dug himself into an even deeper hole on education a few weeks ago by announcing a so-called “budget plan” that would result in even deeper cuts to public schools and other critical state needs. The elements of Abbott’s budget proposal were designed simply to appeal to right-wing ideologues who want to continue to cut every government program in sight, without regard for the consequences.

All of which makes Abbott’s sounding board tour – or whatever he is calling it – of selected public schools seem very puny. At his first stop in Plano the other day, he promoted computers and online learning. In doing so, he tried to ignore the underlying financial struggle of many school districts with overcrowded classrooms, inadequate supplies, thousands of children whose families can’t afford computers and teachers having to take second jobs to make ends meet. [Emphasis added]

And the Davis campaign is not letting up, Wendy Davis prods Greg Abbott on education cuts.

Sen. Wendy Davis keeps prodding Attorney General Greg Abbott on the $5.4 billion public school cutback made nearly three years ago by lawmakers in the face of an inaccurate revenue forecast. (That would be GOP Comptroller Susan Combs’ inaccurate revenue forecast).

[…]

A state judge last year declared the system unconstitutional but reopened the case to consider the 2013 Legislature’s restoration of much of the money that was cut. A January hearing has been set.

Davis in 2011 filibustered the education funding reductions.

Abbott has said defending the funding system is simply part of his job as attorney general. He has been quoted as saying he couldn’t give his opinion on funding because of his position.

“I can’t give you an answer about adequacy of funding when I’m going to be in a courtroom next month defending the adequacy of funding,” Abbott said.

He also has said: “I’m not going to abdicate my responsibility as the attorney general. What I will do is ensure, on a go-forward basis, that the funding that’s going to be provided for students in public education is going to be adequate to attain the status of being the No. 1-ranked education system in the entire United States.”

The Davis campaign has said he is using the pending lawsuit as an excuse to avoid talking about the cuts. Her camp put out a press release saying that he has talked about other issues in litigation, including redistricting, Voter ID, regulation of financial institutions, fishing regulations, health plans’ inclusion of contraception and environmental regulations.

“Greg Abbott’s refusal to answer basic questions on the $5 billion in cuts to neighborhood schools he defends in court has revealed a ‘me first’ leadership style,” said Bo Delp, Davis communications director.

Abbott’s policies for education will likely include for-profit charter schools, and online education, as well has vouchers. There won’t likely be any policies for strengthening and fully funding public education. Why would he? The GOP base’s hatred of public education is legendary.

Wendy Davis on the other hand has and will continue to fight for full funding and equal funding of public education. It’s good to see a GOP candidate finally having to answer for what the policies they’ve implemented that are hurting so many poor, working, and middle class Texans. And it’s not surprising they’re having trouble answering for it.

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