What a mean way to kick off the school year: Governor Rick Perry has appointed former Railroad Commissioner and failed Congressional candidate Michael Williams to the top job at the Texas Education Agency.
Williams recently shopped around for a Congressional district after pulling out of Republican US Senate Primary, landing in CD-25 where he failed to even make the run-off. The former Railroad Commissioner — aka shill for the oil and gas industry — will take over for former head Robert Scott, who left last month after five years at the TEA. Scott spoke openly about the “perversion” of our public school system's high-stakes testing system.
Michael Williams has little-to-no background on education policy. His Congressional campaign website does not list education on his “Issues” page. Instead, he seems primarily obsessed with slashing taxes and cutting revenue, and repealing Obamacare.
It is unlikely given his background that Williams will oppose the $4 billion cut from public schools last legislative session, or play any role in finding legitimate solutions to funding our public schools and enrollment growth, and preventing our school districts from hemorrhaging education workers.
From the Statesman:
He will have to contend immediately with school finance litigation that goes to trial this fall; battles over a controversial standardized testing system; a continuing budget crunch; and an in-depth review of the agency by the Legislature.
Despite Williams' previous experience Assistant Secretary of Education for Civil Rights in Washington, D.C., he has not been actively involved in education policy in Texas. His primary policy expertise has centered on energy issues. The Texas Railroad Commission regulates the oil and gas industry.
This is more bad news for students and teachers. Williams will be just another sycophantic Perry appointee who won't do anything serious to address the disastrous lack of funding for our Texas public schools. Heck, that's probably why Rick Perry gave him the job!