Here's a poll in the governor's race you can take to the bank: 80 percent of the candidates disapprove of the way Texas is using standardized tests.
Some of the details about what they would do instead are fuzzy, but Gov. Rick Perry's four challengers say the state needs to scale back its emphasis on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills. They say the statewide test restricts teachers and puts undue pressure on students.
Candidates for governor also are talking about teacher pay, dropouts prevention and school vouchers. But their testing platforms would go furthest to shake up the state's $35 billion-per-year public education system.
"At some point, we're going to have to move away from the overall punitive nature of what we're doing in public schools," Democratic nominee Chris Bell said.
If voters go along, they'll change course on an issue that helped propel the previous governor to the White House six years ago. . . .
Perry declined to elaborate on his education agenda for the next four years, saying he would do so later.
"Let's just let it go in saying that we will continue to have public education, K through 16, at the forefront of the efforts that we make legislatively," he said. . .
I wonder why Perry won't talk about his voucher plan or his plan to fund Texas schools based on test scores. Is he planning to wait until later, maybe after the election, before the "forefront of the efforts" is detailed?
A poll earlier this year (pdf) showed that 56% of respondents believed there was too much emphasis on testing in Texas. It also showed that 58% of Texans support pay raises for all teachers, rather than the Perry scheme to reward some teachers for higher test scores. Sixty-four percent of respondents supported increased funding for public education.