Texas Governor Rick Perry was at The Heritage Foundation on Monday to speak on his new book FED UP! Its message is bringing limited, constitutional governance back to Washington and the role that state governments should play in that restoration.
In his speech, the Governor stressed that the election was a clear message to lawmakers in Washington to return to exercising their constitutionally defined powers and that the federal government needs to support the states, not work against them.
One of the areas in which the Governor has demonstrated the kind of state leadership he advocates is education. Texas refuses to sign on to the national standards encouraged by President Obama’s Race to the Top program. National standards would likely standardize mediocrity across the states as well as conflict with the principle that Governor Perry articulated Monday morning: that the best government is that which is closest to the people. The push for national standards represents another area in which the federal government is trying to do a job that should be done by states.
Texas also has another good reason to oppose the suggested “common core” standards, since their Board of Education, under its Perry-appointed Chairman Don McLeroy, recently completed a revision of Texas’s social studies standards. The standards emphasize the American founding, highlight the role of free-market enterprise in American economic success, and institute “Celebrate Freedom Week.”
Media furor over the revised standards focused especially on the alleged removal of Thomas Jefferson from a list of political philosophers, prompting the Huffington Post to call the new standards “propaganda.”
Despite the hysteria, Thomas Jefferson fans can rest assured that the Founder retains his place—actually, places—in a number of different objectives under the new standards. Other revisions include insertion of additional historical figures, organizations, and movements, from The Heritage Foundation and the National Rifle Association to feminist Betty Friedan, labor leaders Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, and of course, President Obama. (Only the first few drew the ire of The New York Times, of course.)
As Governor Perry said to Heritage in October, “Our reforms that we’re putting into place that have been fine-tuned for Texas and our very diverse population out there [are] working.” Texas doesn’t need a one-size-fits-all plan from Washington, and its social studies standards are a good case in point. Governor Perry has reaffirmed Texas’s commitment to the principle of federalism in education.
Co-authored by Jennifer Marshall.
Inez Feltscher is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at the Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit: http://www.heritage.org/about/departments/ylp.cfm