Office of the Governor Rick Perry

Jewish Community Relations Council

*Note - Gov. Perry frequently departs from prepared remarks.
Tuesday, March 29, 2005  •  Speech

Thank you, Jim (Hogue, Chair).  It is an honor to be here with so many men and women who are working to build stronger communities and a better Texas.

To those of you who don’t know much about me, I grew up in a little West Texas farming community called Paint Creek. 

It was small and close-knit, but diverse too. 

And by diverse I mean you could raise cotton, or cows... your choice.

Growing up there forever impacted my life. 

We weren’t rich in worldly goods, but wealthy in spirit...
...and strong in our sense of community.

I am proud to be governor of a state that is one of the most diverse in the nation...
...a microcosm for the great melting pot that is the United States.

Texas is home to some 22 million people who trace their roots to every corner of the globe. 

Our culture is enriched...
...and our entire state blessed...
...by this diversity of traditions and heritages.

And though we Texans are a diverse group...
...we all are one people...
...united under the one star of the Texas flag.

We all share common hopes for good jobs, great schools and strong families. 

And we all share a common dream:...
...to leave our children with a world that is better than the one we live in today.

In this session of the legislature, we have the opportunity to address something that is essential to that dream...
...and that is reforming public education.

There are a few key principles that guide me when it comes to education reform. 

First and foremost, this debate is not only about how much we spend...
...it’s about how we spend it. 

School finance is the means to a much greater end, and that is a quality education for every child regardless of where they come from...
...the sound of their last name...
...or the heritage of their family.

I support additional dollars for our schools. 

But I believe that if taxpayers provide more money for education...
...they should also be able to demand more education for their money.

We can get more education for our money by making excellence the goal of every classroom...
...and changing the focus from minimum standards to maximum achievement.

And we should concentrate our efforts where they are needed most:...
...in schools where we have large numbers of economically disadvantaged students...
...where graduation rates are low...
...and where too few children graduate prepared for college and success in life.

When we improve opportunities for disadvantaged students...
...the circle of success widens. 
That is exactly what is happening with the Texas High School Initiative...
...a partnership between the state and the Dell and Gates Foundations that is providing $130 million to help at-risk students achieve the goal of a high school diploma.

With wise investments...
...and with the right incentives...
...we can narrow the achievement gap in our schools before it becomes an opportunity gap in the workplace.

At the halfway point of this session, I am encouraged by the progress we have made on education reform.

We are focusing on student achievement so more children are prepared for college...
...looking at improving teacher compensation and creating new incentives to attract the best and brightest teachers...
...and bringing more transparency to school budgeting so parents know how much of their money makes it to the classroom...
...and how much is spent on administration.

While we still have a little way to go in devising a final plan that we can all agree on, we are moving steadily towards the finish line...
...and we need your help to get there.
I encourage you all over the next two months to work with your legislators to find the right mix of revenue options that can provide our schools with the resources they need so that every child can access the opportunities of tomorrow.

(pause)

Our commitment to building a better future for all our children must include the most vulnerable among us...
...children at risk of neglect or abuse.

That is why I have designated reform of Child Protective Services as an emergency issue for the legislature.

We are working to fix Child Protective Services so no child loses hope in tomorrow.

I strongly support additional funding to train and retain new Child Protective Services caseworkers.

Because of the investigation into CPS I ordered last year, today we have a blueprint for reform that will significantly reduce investigator caseloads...
...increase the time investigators spend with children and families...
...and reduce time spent on paperwork by 58 percent.
This $329 million reform plan will also improve salaries for CPS workers...
...improve case management through better utilization of technology...
...and dramatically change the structure of the agency so no investigator is distracted from the main mission:...
...helping abused and neglected children.

We cannot pass a law that requires families to love and care for their children...
...nor can we prevent every tragedy from happening. 

But we can make the ultimate effort to save and improve as many lives as possible by ensuring we have a safety net that protects children at risk and restores to them something they must never lose...
...hope in a better tomorrow.

Despite the many challenges we face in this state, I see a bright future ahead for all of our people...
...especially if Republicans and Democrats put aside differences and work together for the common good. 

Elected leaders must remember that...
...just like the diverse collection of people that call Texas home...
...what binds us together is profoundly stronger than what could ever set us apart.

I believe Republicans and Democrats will come together to solve the great challenges of our day, because that is what the people sent us here to do.

And in the remaining days of this legislative session and beyond, I know my door will continue to be open to all who come in good faith to build a better Texas.

Thank you, and may God bless you.

Learn more about:
Governor's Initiatives »
Connect With Us
Texas Governor's Office on Google+Google+ Texas Governor's Office on LinkedInLinkedIn Texas Governor's Office YouTube ChannelYouTube Sign Up For Email Updates - Opens New WindowEmail Texas Governor's Office Flickr Photo StreamFlickr RSS FeedsRSS Feeds FlipboardFlipboard InstagramInstagram
Related News
August 05, 2014 • Austin, Texas • Press Release
Statement by Gov. Perry on Record High Texas High School Graduation Rates
May 12, 2014 • Austin, Texas • Noteworthy
$10K Degrees Put A Great Education Within Reach For More Texans
May 07, 2014 • Austin, Texas • Noteworthy
Education Key To Continued Texas Prosperity
April 22, 2014 • Austin, Texas • Appointment
Gov. Perry Appoints 11 Student Regents Across the State
View News Archive »