AUSTIN (KXAN) – If you take a look back at the first inaugural address from each of Texas’ last eight governors, you’ll find a common theme among them: education.
In 1963, Governor John Connally’s inaugural address foretold the Texas we know today – economically competitive and rich in jobs. He also predicted the challenge in holding onto those points: investing in education.
“The riches that are in Texas today are in large measure return on such an investment made in the youth of Texas by those men of vision long years ago. They wisely committed the resources of this state to the support of education of the first class in their time. We must renew that commitment and re-endow the future with greater investments today,” Gov. Connally explained.
Connally’s concerns matched his successor’s. Preston Smith’s 1969 speech urged education quality and equality for students no matter their economic, racial, cultural or social background. Saying, “We seek fairness for one school as compared to another.”
The inauguration in 1973 had Gov. Dolph Briscoe calling for “an adequate bilingual educational program,” perhaps foreseeing the state’s Hispanic population would become the fastest growing in the state today.
As Texas neared 15 million people in 1979, its population brought Governor Bill Clements back to the connection between schools and jobs, pushing his plan to improve the system to “Give our children the basic building blocks they need to develop meaningful careers.”
Governor Mark White called for better teacher pay and retention, in 1983’s ceremony saying, “We must demonstrate to our teachers that they occupy an honored place in our society.”
Ann Richards spoke of her vision of a child picking up a textbook one day and seeing how historic the 1991 inauguration really was.
“Today we have a vision of a Texas where opportunity knows no race, no gender, no color – a glimpse of the possibilities if we simply open the doors and let the people in.”
Like a true Republican, George W. Bush stressed local control of decisions involving schools in his 1995 speech.
“Texas must have high standards for our schools, free our local districts to innovate and hold our educators responsible for results,” he proclaimed.
And, Rick Perry had his own educator on stage in 2003, a teacher from the school he attended as a child, thanking her for teaching him to believe in his future and the future of Texas.
“All for the answers may not be found this session, but we will work until they are found, and these issues will be addressed during this administration,” Perry said.