Rick Perry on Education

Last Updated : Jul 27, 2011


The state of Texas is on the bottom end of statistics for spending, pay, and graduation rates. In 2010, it spent $9,128 per student while the national average was $10,826. This is mostly due to a low cost of living in Texas, as does the low ranking of Texas is teacher pay. Texas graduation rate is also one of the lowest in the nation, ranking 42 out of the 50 states and graduating roughly 65%. The cost of college in Texas has also doubled since Governor Perry took office.

When the No Child Left Behind Act passed, Governor Perry supported the program. He submitted plans for Texas to receive funding from the program and touted it as being based on Texas programs. He stated that he supported the program's emphasis on accountability and testing.

When President Obama was elected, he altered the NCLB program with one of his own called the Race to the Top program. Governor Perry rejected the funds offered through the program an declined to participate in helping to create nationalized standards. Governor Perry stated that Texas was on the right path toward improved education, and we would be foolish and irresponsible to place our children’s future in the hands of unelected bureaucrats and special interest groups thousands of miles away in Washington, virtually eliminating parents’ participation in their children’s education. He asserted that if Washington were truly concerned about funding education with solutions that match local challenges, they would make the money available to states with no strings attached. This is counter to 2006 statements in which Governor Perry supported standardized testing as the only method of determining student and teacher success.

Governor Perry has voiced support for voucher programs and school choice. Under Governor Perry, the number of students in charter schools has almost tripled under Governor Perry, but still represents only 2% of the total student population. Governor Perry has also stated that he supports vouchers for private schools and public school choice. However, he has made no efforts to install such a program.

While in office, Governor Perry has enacted a numerous changes in pay for teachers, merit programs for teachers, and programs to lower dropout rates and assist at-risk students. Some of these programs and changes are shown in the list below:

  • In 2002, a dropout program was introduced which included an after school program, hiring more counselors, in-school communities, and flexible school hours
  • In 2002, an additional $3 million was allocated for teacher mentoring programs
  • In 2002, $20 million was allocated for first generation college student grants
  • In 2004, the High School Advancement Incentive provides schools $100 more per student for each year they advance in high school, so long as the students pass the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) tests.
  • In 2004, the Commended Performance Incentive rewarded all schools whose students score at least 90 percent on all TAKS tests taken. The Incentive would provide Texas schools $100 per student achieving Commended Performance and $200 for each at-risk student who scores that high. The TEA defines Commended Performance as a score of 90 percent or higher on all TAKS tests taken.
  • In 2004, the Distinguished Achievement Incentive rewarded Texas high schools at least $1,000 for each graduate who successfully completes the most academically challenging course of study Texas schools offer, the Distinguished Achievement Program. The reward would jump to $2,000 for each at-risk student who graduates under this plan.
  • In 2004, the Algebra Incentive increased the number of students who master algebra. School campuses would receive $100 per student passing the Algebra I end-of-course exam. An additional $100 ($200 total) will be awarded for each at-risk student meeting this level of achievement.
  • In 2004, the LEP Student Success Incentive encouraged schools to develop ways to promote academic success with LEP students to achieve academic success and close the achievement gap. School campuses will receive $100 per LEP student passing the TAKS test and an additional $100 ($200 total) for each student who receives commended performance on all sections of the TAKS.
  • In 2004 the Teacher Excellence Incentive rewarded teachers for achieving a high level of excellence in the classroom and increase the number of effective teachers working in qualifying schools. A $200 million fund will be established to reward teaching excellence by providing up to $2,500 in matching funds per qualifying teacher in conjunction with a school district-initiated teaching excellence program. Additionally, effective teachers could receive an additional $5,000 state stipend if they are assigned or choose to teach in a qualifying, struggling school.
  • In 2004, the Student Progress Incentive rewarded school districts demonstrating the highest level of improvement in meeting the objectives of the Educational Excellence proposals. Perry proposed appropriating $100 million to the Successful Schools Fund to provide the financial rewards. Under the proposal, criteria will be developed by the Texas Education Commissioner and rewards will be awarded by the commissioner.
  • In 2004, the Truth in Spending initiative measured educational results in relation to district financial decisions to ensure that tax dollars are being efficiently spent and students are receiving a quality education. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) will implement an improved financial accountability system to rate school districts based on fiscally responsible management practices. Some factors that should be considered are:rn
    • properly defined and appropriate administrative costs
    • high percentages of funding going directly to the classroom
    • tax burden compared to other similarly situated districts
    • appropriate levels of protection against fraudulent activity
    • strong correlation between school district expenditures and student performance
    • effective personnel management practices
    • transparency in financial reporting, ensuring taxpayers are fully informed about school district financial practices
  • In 2005, Governor Perry issued an executive order that at least 65% of all educational money must be spent in the classroom.
  • In 2006, merit pay programs were established for teachers in at-risk schools (up to $10,000 per teacher)
  • In 2006, programs were put in place to provide individual education plans for at-risk students
  • In 2006, the Robin Hood program was lessened greatly to allow funds taken from given districts to remain in those districts
  • In 2010, Governor Perry proposed linking driver's licenses to remaining in school


State of Texas Education Statistics

The state of Texas ranks on the lower end of National Education Association statistics for a number of education parameters. The parameters include the amount of money spent per pupil, the graduation rate, and the amount paid to teachers. Many of these rankings are skewed because of the low cost of living in Texas. However, the statistics can be used to compare trend lines over the Perry administration.

Amount Spent per Pupil

As of 2010, Texas was ranked 44th overall on amount spent per pupil. This is largely due to the low cost of living in Texas. However, over Governor Perry's tenure, the amount spent per pupil has not increased as much as the national average and Texas's ranking has fallen overall.

Graduation Rate

The graduation rate in Texas has increased under Governor Perry, rising from under 62% at the time Governor Perry came into office to over 65% in 2008.

Teacher Salaries

The amount of money that Texas pays teachers has increased roughly $9,000 under Governor Perry. This includes a 2006 increase of $2,000 per teacher. Texas has fallen in pay rankings over the nation.

Cost of College

The cost of college in Texas has increased radically since 2000, with the cost of a Semester almost doubling between 2000 and 2006.

Charter Schools

Charter Schools have grown at a tremendous rate under Governor Perry. However, in 2009 the population of children in charter schools represented just over 2% of the total number of students in Texas.


State of Education

In March of 2002, Governor Perry gave a speech on the state of education in Texas. He notes his support for a Head Start program and notes his desire to provide all pre-schools with adequate materials.


Dropout Plan

In March of 2002, Governor Perry released a press statement noting a new dropout prevention program. The program established after school programs, a dropout prevention division, hiring counselors, and identifying best practices.


Teacher Mentoring Program

In April of 2002, Governor Perry released a press statement noting $3 million in additional funding for a teacher mentoring program. The program would provide support for first and second year teachers.


First Generation Students

In May of 2002, Governor Perry released a press statement noting a program grant to entice first generation students to attend college. The program would provide interest free loans to qualifying students.



In July of 2002, Governor Perry issued a press statement noting the approval of his education plan under No Child Left Behind. He notes the head start program, programs to retain retain teachers, and the creation of a Master Science Teacher Program.

In April of 2011, Governor Perry was interviewed by the National Review about his 2010 re-election campaign against Senator Hutchison. He spoke briefly about No Child Left Behind and called it a monstrous intrsusion of federal power. 


Incentives and Accountability Measures

In early 2004, Governor Perry proposed a series of measures designed to provide both incentives for performance and greater accountability for educational spending. Governor Perry spoke about the need for these reforms to the TASA and the TASB, and released other press statements to promote the measures.


Transforming Education

In November of 2004, Governor Perry released a statement noting his desire to transform the educational system in Texas. He states that he does not seek slow and small changes, but rather a once in a generation transformation. He asks for input from both parties and for discourse and not discord. In two other statements, Perry mentioned numerous items that he would like to see considered, including:

  • providing up to $7,500 a year more to encourage the best and brightest teachers to teach in schools with large numbers of economically disadvantaged students
  • Providing meaningful progress incentives for schools that serve mostly disadvantaged student populations.
  • Providing expert help in the form of school turn-around teams that can mentor teachers and review management practices at struggling schools.
  • Allowing the state to immediately shut down those charter schools that fail our children and worse yet, those that exist to simply enrich fly-by-night operators
  • Partnering with the Gates Foundation and others on a high school initiative to create smaller learning environments for struggling students. In 2003 the state partnered with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation and the Communities Foundation of Texas to provide $130 million to assist at-risk students. At the time it was announced, the initiative was the largest public-private effort of its kind.
  • Becoming the first state to provide individualized study guides to juniors and seniors who fail the required state tests. The guides are tailored to each student's academic weaknesses and are designed to help them learn the material required to pass the test the next time they take it.
  • Requiring individualized graduation plans for students deemed at-risk of failure.


School Choice

In February of 2005, Governor Perry gave a speech devoted to school choice. Governor Perry asserts his support for school choice and his views that this can increase education quality for the state.


Support for Early Start Programs

In June of 2005, Governor Perry released a statement noting his support for early start programs and funding for starting children in school earlier.


65 Percent Executive Order

In August of 2005, Governor Perry gave a speech in which he announced that he was issuing an executive order stating that 65 percent of education funds must be spent in the classroom.


Incentive Program for Teachers

In November of 2005, Governor Perry issued an executive order creating an incentive program for teachers. Under the directive, schools that serve a large population of economically disadvantaged students that show marked improvement in student performance will be eligible for a grant of at least $100,000. Local school officials will have discretion to distribute the grant to the teachers they determine are having the greatest impact. The executive order also requires that a minimum of 75 percent.


2006 - HB1

On May 31, 2006 Governor Perry signed Texas House Bill 1 into law. The bill contained a large number of changes to education funding and makeup. This included a $2,000 per teacher raise, and merit pay. These provisions included:

  • A $2,000 Pay Raise for Teachers: Legislators passed a $2,000 across-the-board pay raise for teachers, restoring the full amount of the teacher health stipend and building on the positive trend in teacher compensation that has seen salaries increase by $11,700 for teachers in the classroom since 1999.
  • Performance Pay for Excellent Teachers: The legislation will create the largest performance pay plan in the nation to reward classroom excellence. With $260 million for bonuses of up to $10,000 per teacher for locally-designed incentive programs, and another $100 million for the Governor’s Educator Excellence Awards Program, Texas will take the national lead in rewarding educational excellence and attracting top-performing teachers to struggling campuses.
  • Improving High Schools: HB 1 provides more than $1 billion over three years to reform Texas high schools and further the goals of the governor’s high school initiative, which are to reduce the dropout rate, replicate successful school models and prepare more students for college.
  • Raising the Bar: Legislators strengthened the curriculum by requiring four years of math and science to better prepare students for the high-tech economy.
  • Robin Hood Relief: By 2008, close to $1 billion in local property tax revenues will remain in local districts to be spent on local students instead of being exported to other areas of the state.
  • Greater Funding Equity: The state will make a historic commitment to funding fairness, achieving up to 94 percent funding equity on enrichment dollars.
  • Teacher Mentoring: Millions of dollars will be dedicated to teacher mentoring programs to keep young educators in the classroom.
  • More Money for Schools: With $1.8 billion to fund teacher pay increases and classroom excellence initiatives, as well as funding provided last session, legislators have increased school funding by $3.4 billion in the current fiscal biennium.
  • State Share Increases Dramatically: By next year, the state share of education funding will increase to 50 percent, reversing a trend scheduled to take us to 34 percent in FY2007 if nothing had been done.


Support for voucher program

In April of 2004, Governor Perry was quoted by the Lubbock Online as saying that he would support a pilot program for a school voucher system in Texas.

In 2005, when efforts failed to establish a voucher program in Texas, Governor Perry stated that the fight to allow students to leave failing schools through vouchers would continue.


Knowing What They Know

In June of 2006, Governor Perry stated that while his understood the pressure on teachers and stress on students caused by standardized testing, there was no way to know the progress of students without them.


Rejection of "Race to the Top" Funds

After assuming office in January of 2009, President Obama made several changes to federal funding for education and created a program called "Race to the Top" as part of the Stimulus Bill. The program offered funds in exchange for states adhering to certain standards and programs. In November of 2009, Governor Perry's office issued a press statement noting that they would not be adopting the standards and assessments put forth in the program in an attempt to obtain funding. The press statement noted that the program was an over reach of federal power to dictate education standards.

In January of 2010, the Governor's office formally announced that it would not pursue funds through the program. In a press statement, the Governor noted that Texas knew best how to educate it's children.

The belief that the national standards set forth in the race to the top program were not right for Texas was echoed by Governor Perry in a February 2010 op-ed titled "Rejecting Race to the Top funds was an easy call," and in a September 2010 interview with the Heritage Foundation.


Participation in Education Standards

In November of 2009, Governor Perry issued a press statement noting a letter that he had sent to the state education commissionor directing him not to cooperate with the development of national standards for the Race to the Top program.


Linking driver's licenses to school attendance

In January of 2010, the Perry campaign issued a press release stating that the Governor supported measures to require that any minor be enrolled in school and working towards a degree before they could receive a driver's license.


Official Website Statements


Campaign Website Statements


 Learning and Learning Environment -


[1] Website: Austin America Statesman Article: Perry: Rejecting Race to the Top funds was an easy call Author: Rick Perry Accessed on: 07/26/2010

[2] Website: Lubbock Online Article: Perry wish list includes school voucher plan Author: NA Accessed on: 07/26/2010

[3] Website: Texas Comptroller Article: Texas: Where We Stand on Education (2006) Author: NA Accessed on: 07/20/2011

[4] Website: The Houston Chronicle Article: While SAT Scores Rise in U.S., Texas Still Near Bottom Author: THOM MARSHALL Accessed on: 07/20/2011

[5] Website: USA Today Article: SAT scores by state Author: The College Board Accessed on: 07/20/2011

[6] Website: NCHEMS Information Center Article: Public High School Graduation Rates Author: NA Accessed on: 07/20/2011

[7] Website: The National Review Online Article: Rick Perry’s Tenth Commandment Author: Kevin D. Williamson Accessed on: 07/25/2011

[8] Website: Houston Chronicle Article: Perry praises teachers, bashes Bell, defends standardized testing Author: KELLEY SHANNON Accessed on: 07/26/2011

[9] Website: Texas Charter School Association Article: Governor Perry Signs Law to Extend Permanent School Fund Bond Guarantee to Charter School Author: Josie Duckett Accessed on: 07/26/2011

[10] Website: Houston Chronicle Article: Perry: Voucher fight won't end with session Author: AP Accessed on: 07/26/2011

[11] Website: Texas Public Policy Foundation Article: Charter Schools in Texas: The Waiting Lists Grow Longer Author: Brooke Dollens Terry Accessed on: 07/27/2011

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