U.S. News

Texas won't vie for "Race to the Top" school aid

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Texas will not compete for the new federal “Race to the Top” school aid as it would cost the state more than $3 billion, but it could qualify for $750 million, Republican Governor Rick Perry said on Wednesday.

Perry, who last year suggested that Texas might consider seceding to end the federal government’s interference, bashed the school program for weakening local control.

The State Board of Education should continue to decide what Texas pupils will be taught instead of adopting the “national standards” set in the new federal school program, Perry said in a statement.

“Texas is on the right path toward improved education, and we would be foolish and irresponsible to place our children’s future in the hands of unelected bureaucrats and special interest groups thousands of miles away in Washington, virtually eliminating parents’ participation in their children’s education,” he said.

Texas governors are considered among the nation’s weakest, partly because the lieutenant governor presides over the state senate and controls its agenda.

Republican Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst on Wednesday directed the Senate to focus on three main areas: creating jobs, improving health care and improving fiscal responsibility.

In the financial sphere, Dewhurst wants recommendations on “existing and future public debt at all levels of government in Texas” and the effectiveness of tax credits in growing the economy.

In addition to improving the property tax system, he charged the Senate with analyzing “the impact of changing the constitutional and statutory spending limit based on the sum of the rate of population growth and the rate of inflation.”

Reporting by Joan Gralla; Editing by Dan Grebler