Republican candidate for governor Greg Abbott was in San Antonio Wednesday afternoon to talk about education.
Abbott, Texas' attorney general, held a roundtable discussion with educators at the KIPP Camino Academy, focusing on the role charter schools play in the state's education system.
Abbott was looking for some fresh ideas from the teachers and administrators at the college preparatory charter school that he hopes will help him achieve his goal of making Texas a leader in education.
"I want to see Texas be ranked the No. 1 state in the entire country for education," Abbott said. "The future of the state of Texas must go down a pathway of ensuring our state is No. 1 in achieving education for the next generation."
Abbott said the goal for all public schools should be to prepare students for a college education.
To achieve his goals, Abbott said students need to be treated as stakeholders and their parents as partners.
"Having that buy-in and involvement by both the students and the parents and then working to achieve the highest quality of teachers and principals will help launch the state of Texas down the pathway toward the goal of what I want to achieve," Abbott said.
Abbott said he also believes giving students a choice between charter schools and traditional public schools creates the competition needed to improve the education system.
"We see that competition works in every sector across the United States, we know competition works in the education setting as well," Abbott said. "The systems, tools and techniques that are used, developed, and deployed by this particular KIPP campus right here are those that force a greater level of competition by schools in San Antonio. Through the charter system, through the public education system, we can stimulate a sense of competition that will cause all students to compete to do a better job
On the campaign trail, Abbott has taken heat for defending the state in court for the legislature's massive cuts to the state's public education system back in 2011. He said he's just doing his job as attorney general but refused to take a personal stance on the issue.
"I can't go back and reconstruct what was done in that legislative session which was two legislative sessions ago," Abbott said. "What I could tell you is as a leader what I will be doing policy wise and that is setting our priorities on a different course."
Abbott's top challenger in the race for governor is Democratic Sen. Wendy Davis. Her campaign provided a response to Abbott's visit.
“Not only did Greg Abbott go up against hundreds of Texas school districts in court, his support of school vouchers would drain even more resources from our neighborhood schools,” Davis said in the news release. "In the Senate, I filibustered against over $5 billion in unconstitutional budget cuts to our public schools. As governor, I will make sure our schools are a priority. Greg Abbott’s actions in the courtroom and support of school vouchers put Texas’ future at risk.”