Office of the Governor Rick Perry

Gov. Rick Perry's Remarks At The Educational Excellence Road Tour - Galena Park

*Note - Gov. Perry frequently departs from prepared remarks.
Wednesday, February 04, 2004  •  Speech

Thank you.  I am honored to be here today with Dr. Say and Principal Marsha Masi, representatives of the Galena Park School Board, various teachers and administrators, parents and students, and the new Commissioner of Education, the former Superintendent for the Galena Park schools, Dr. Shirley Neeley.

The lesson of the Galena Park schools is that with the right mindset, and strong leadership that sets priorities, all children can succeed.  Galena Park shows that academic achievement is not predicated on the wealth of a community, but the dedication of its parents and educators.  In Dr. Shirley Neeley, Galena Park had a highly motivated leader whose “can do” attitude permeated the hallways of every Galena Park school, and the classrooms of every Galena Park teacher.  Every child can learn, and every school can succeed, with the right motivation and leadership.  And though it was a bittersweet day for the members of this community when I asked Dr. Neeley to serve as the newest Commissioner of Education, the people of Galena Park know there is no better Texan to serve as the head cheerleader for our 4.2 million schoolchildren than this Harley-riding school marm.

Why do I brag so much on Galena Park?  Because Galena Park is the largest, most diverse school district in the state with an exemplary rating.  In the last nine years, the numbers of students taking the college boards has doubled in Galena Park, and the number of students taking A.P. courses has tripled.  And among the last graduating class, 82 percent of students went on to some form of higher education.  And Galena Park students have also shown that victories in the classroom can be matched by victories on the football field!

I put forward a new plan for educational excellence in Texas because we should never have low expectations for our children, nor the schools where they learn.  In recent years, our schools and students have made tremendous progress.   From 1994 to 2002, passing rates on the TAAS test increased from 53 percent to 85 percent.  Scores have gone up across the board, among various demographic groups, at every grade level tested.  And our students have consistently ranked in the top ten nationally on reading, writing and math tests.  We have also provided 7.1 billion new dollars for our schools in the last four years.  Our public schools receive $10,400 for every child we educate.  And per pupil spending has increased $1,900 since 1999. 

Because of recent education reforms, more students are meeting minimum standards.  That is an important accomplishment.  But I believe it is time to usher in a new era of educational excellence that is not based on meeting minimum standards, but instead focuses on maximum achievement.  The goal is not for more students to pass, but for more students to excel.

When we tie education dollars to results, we will get more results for our education dollars.  My plan utilizes results-based performance incentives to reward schools that keep more students on course to graduation, schools that increase the number of graduates of the distinguished achievement program, and schools that bring more students to commended performance on the TAKS.  Under my plan, we will reward success on the end-of-course Algebra One exam, provide schools more resources when they succeed with students that speak English as a second language, and give a hand up to schools that have a long way to go as long as they make great strides toward meeting the goal of educational excellence.  And I believe we must reward our best and brightest teachers who help students make great progress, and that includes teachers that teach in the toughest learning environments, struggling schools. 

My plan involves $500 million in funded incentives, NOT unfunded mandates.  And the incentive funding I am proposing is separate from, and in addition to, my ongoing commitment to funding enrollment growth.

Leaders like Dr. Neeley show us the mindset in our schools should not be “we can’t, and we won’t,” but instead, “we can, and we will.”  When we predicate additional funding on additional progress, we make excellence the focus of every school in every district.  AND OUR CHILDREN DESERVE NOTHING LESS!

Please welcome our newest Commissioner of Education, Galena Park’s very own, Dr. Shirley Neeley.

Governor's Initiatives:
Teacher Incentive Programs »
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