5 Days in October: Greg Abbott on Education

NBC 5 is partnering with The Dallas Morning News, KERA and Telemundo 39 to produce in-depth reports about the race for Texas governor. We asked our viewers, readers and listeners to vote on the topics most important to them. For five days, we will report in-depth on each of those topics: education, immigration, health care, economy and infrastructure.

The first report is on education. Click here to see our report on Texas Sen. Wendy Davis.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has made his mission clear for education.

"I think we should be number one in the nation," said Abbott in a one-on-one interview.

But how does he get that done?

Currently, the state is in a legal battle about funding to begin with.

Millions were cut, then restored by a judge's order.

Now as Texas attorney general, Abbott is appealing that decision.

"At the time that you are saying this you have essentially defended the State of Texas against the lawsuit to restore school funding, As a Governor you are going to be in a different role," Said NBC 5's Julie Fine.

"Listen I am hired to be the Attorney General for the state of Texas right now. As governor though I will be a transformative force in they was we reshape education. The goal is not just to throw more money at it, the goal truly transform education so we can truly educate our kids. I want to ensure that we build a solid foundation for education by ensuring from Pre-K all the way through third grade we have all students doing reading and math at grade level so they have a solid foundation upon which they can build a great education future," said Abbott.

"Will you push to get that money restored when you are in a different roll?," asked NBC 5 reporter Julie Fine.

"My education plan does provide more funding for schools. For prekindergarten, for example, it provides $1,500 more per student," said Abbott.

Pre-K has been a very big issue in the ad wars during this election. His opponent, State Sen. Wendy Davis, is pushing for universal pre-K. She said Abbott is calling for standardized testing for pre-K students.

We went through Abbott's plan, he wants pre-K programs that receive state money to evaluate improvement, and report that data to the Texas Education Agency.

As for testing, the plan calls for "direct assessments, norm-referenced standardized tests."

This is how Abbott describes them.

"These are methods that are being used around the Dallas area right now, where a teacher will observe what the student is doing. Is Sandra making progress the way the way we want her to make? Is Johnny making progress. A teacher will make observations about that. A teacher will ask them can you recite the alphabet or can you count to 10," said Abbott.

"They would hold up a picture of a letter, do you know what that letter is, you hold up a number do you know what that number is," said Abbott.

Texas is 46th in spending per pupil in the nation, well below the national average.

In the last debate, Abbott was asked if he could fulfill that goal of being No. 1, with spending well below the national average.

"California spends a lot more per pupil, than does the state of Texas. Despite that fact, Texas students perform that well, if not better on NAEP tests, so it shows more funding does not always lead to better results," Abbott said.

Part of this plan addresses higher education as well.

"We need to make it more affordable. It costs so much for higher education. We have to bring that cost down," said Abbott.

He says new strategies and tools are needed to bring down the costs of what universities are charging. He also wants to ensure that Texas will have five of the top 10 universities in the country.

CLICK HERE for a special 5 Days in October section from The Dallas Morning News.

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