Commissioner of Education tells critics to "bring it"
By Richard Whittaker,
3:47PM, Wed. Oct. 14, 2009
Waiting for Gov. Rick Perry to make some outlandish statement about the well being of Texas is like waiting for the #7 bus: Miss one, just wait 20 minutes. But when the normally more taciturn Education Commissioner Robert Scott says something noteworthy, it's usually been worth the wait.
Perry was delivering a speech yesterday at the Sam Houston Math, Science and Technology Center in Houston, which underwent a state mandated repurposing last year. This year, it has been classified as Recognized, for which the staff and community will only get plaudits. Scott said that, if he had a medal, he would give that to the school. After that admirable comment, plus getting in an unnecessary jab at two Austin ISD schools for getting outperformed by Sam Houston (Bowie and Stephen F. Austin, both classified as Academically Acceptable, but he picked them because they're all named after famous Texans), he turned in this jim-dandy:
"I'm proud to work with a governor who will stand firm for accountability in our schools. And I'll tell you what you're also going to hear, and I've seen some of these articles. There are some detractors out there who are kinda saying, 'Well, we see the progress at Sam Houston, but we don't believe it.' I'm seeing some detractors out there who are saying 'Texas standards don't really meet the high expectations.' And to those detractors, I say, 'Bring it.'"Bring it?
Maybe he's considering teaching them over here, just so he doesn't have to teach them over here.
Here's a suggestion of who might "bring it." The families at Pearce Middle School and Reagan High that Scott seems to be hell-bent on putting through the ringer. And if there was to be this act of bringing, maybe it could be done on the grounds of Webb Middle, which many residents of East Austin fear will be the first domino to fall if Scott's policies don't change.
Speaking of which, Scott made this interesting comment about his interest in those schools under the blade:
"I travel the state, and I visit every one of the multi-year, low-performing schools."Checking with the Texas Education Agency, they report that Scott tries to visit all schools in year three or four of being classified as Academically Unacceptable. Apparently, there's not much point visiting in the Spring or Summer because that's too late in the year to make any real changes (even though that's when the policy decisions about those campus will be made by his office). Here's the response from the TEA on how often he's visited those campuses:
Commissioner Scott most recently visited Reagan High School on Sept. 29, 2009.So just to clarify: Scott did not visit Pearce in just under ten months before ordering its closure, and has not been back in over a year. With Reagan in year four of AU status, will he visit again at all this year?
He visited Pearce on Sept. 11, 2008 and sent executive-level staff back for another visit on Feb. 1, 2009.
Additionally, [Former Superintendent Pat] Forgione, the Pearce principal, several school board members, technical assistance team members, other AISD central office and campus leaders also came here [to the TEA offices] to talk about the campus and its efforts to turn the school around. The district also periodically sent us data to review. The same thing happens with other schools that are danger of closing.