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June 4, 2013

This session's winners and losers in Texas education

Will Weissert:

Six days before Christmas, state Sen. Dan Patrick decamped from the Capitol to a nearby Roman Catholic school. The start of the legislative session was still two-plus weeks away, but the tea party Republican wanted to be in a classroom as he declared he was ready to lead the largest public education overhaul Texas had seen in decades.

"We don't have time for evolution in public schools," said Patrick, who hails from Houston and heads the powerful Senate Education Committee. "We need a revolution."

It was a line he often repeated in the following months. And, by the time the 140-day session ended this week, Patrick had succeeded -- at least partially.

Lawmakers restored nearly $4 billion of the $5.4 billion cut from public education in 2011, transformed high school standardized testing and curriculum standards, and expanded charter schools. Patrick's push to allow students to attend private school with public funds fell flat -- but could be revived during an ongoing 30-day special session that so far is focused solely on redrawing the state's political maps.

"I'm really pleased," Patrick said during the session's final hours. Referencing the 150 House and 31 Senate lawmakers, he continued: "I'm just one of 181 members and there will always be members who disagree on a lot of things. But we've made a lot of progress."

Posted by Jim Zellmer at June 4, 2013 12:10 AM
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