|Earlier this week, Abbott stated his opposition to universal pre-K for Texas children, an exceedingly common-sense policy proposal from Wendy Davis that, as education expert Jason Sabo put it in the Austin American-Statesman, should "transcend the politics and partisanship."
Abbott's suggestion that universal pre-K is a "waste" is a direct assault on the opportunity provided by public education to middle and working-class Texans, especially Latinos and African-Americans.
Universal pre-K will most directly benefit low income and disadvantaged students to better prepare them for K-12 education. The policy has been shown to improve graduation rates, and produce persistent gains on achievement test scores. The benefits are long-term: students who go to pre-K find higher paying jobs and are less likely to end up in jail.
Currently, Latino children do not attend pre-school at the same rates as their white counterparts. Universal pre-K is not merely sensible, but arguably critical for the future success of the Texas economy. In refusing to support a policy that will best prepare our population to learn and succeed, Abbott demonstrates that he's not ready to govern the state of Texas.
All Texas kids deserve a great start to their public education.
Now, Abbott has followed up on his implication that preparing poor and minority kids for success is a "waste" by citing a white supremacist, Charles Murray, in his education policy paper.
The Southern Poverty Law Center states that Charles Murray has a history of using "racist pseudoscience and misleading statistics" to suggest that minorities, women, and the poor are genetically inferior to wealthy white men and that their inherent deficiencies cannot be remedied through education.
While it could be argued that misogynist white supremacists such as Charles Murray are the only kind of "experts" who would view Greg Abbott as a qualified candidate for Governor, in reality it's a terrifying glimpse into the deep-seeded enmity Abbott holds for the growing Latino and African-American majority of Texans.
The media hasn't been kind to Abbott. The Huffington Post writes:
In the second paragraph of his introduction, Abbott cites Charles Murray, a conservative social scientist and fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
"Family background has the most decisive effect on student achievement, contributing to a large performance gap between children from economically disadvantaged families and those from middle class homes," Abbott writes, citing Murray's book Real Education in the footnote. (Abbott's plan misspells the book's title as "Read Education.")
The Dallas Morning News writes:
Using Murray as a reference comes after weeks of Abbott being on the defensive over gender equality issues. Abbott said he would veto a bill that would have made it easier for women to sue in state court over wage disparity. Abbott said he was concerned that under the bill - sponsored by Democratic opponent Wendy Davis - businesses could have been sued for discrimination that was decades old.
He also appeared last month with hard rocker Ted Nugent, who has called female politicians "fat pigs," and called President Obama a "subhuman mongrel."
Abbott's reference to Murray was a footnote. The GOP nominee for governor's plan talks about funding early education programs, but only those that meet certain gold standards. Abbott also says that universal pre-K education would be a "waste" and state money should be reserved for programs whose success can be measured.
Is Charles Murray really the kind of person we want shaping education policy in Texas? And do we really want a governor that listens to this sort of thing?