In a major speech at Texas State University in San Marcos Friday gubernatorial candidate Chris Bell stated that the most important question facing Texas today is: "How do we retool our schools to be relevant in a world economy?" He said that as governor his top priority will be to make Texas public schools the best in the nation. Calling it a "moon shot plan" and acknowledging that wholesale reform of our public schools will be a monumental challenge, he compared the innovation and effort needed to achieve this to the focus and courage that John Kennedy called on to put a man on the moon.
Bell sharply criticized the Perry administration saying they would rather defend the status quo than acknowledge the reality that schools aren't working. "Rick Perry uses the TAKS test like the end-all, be-all of education. Everything in our schools is geared toward helping kids get better scores on that test," he said.
Chris Bell laid out the frightening statistics that only two out of every three kids makes it to graduation in Texas. And for those graduating, SAT scores are near the worst in the country; forcing colleges to teach what students should have learned in high school. Bell quoted visionary Bill Gates who has said, "By obsolete, I mean that our high schools - even when they're working exactly as designed - cannot teach our kids what they need to know today."
Bell declared that as Governor his first act will be to appoint a blue-ribbon commission to figure out how to make our schools the best in the country and reminded us all that leadership requires putting ideas on the table: ideas such as raising teacher pay, and then linking it to legislative pensions and not just reducing, but preventing dropouts.
Chris Bell's 'Retool our Schools' plan is formed along the three following principles: