AUSTIN (KXAN) — Gov. Greg Abbott appointed Mike Morath to be the new commissioner of the Texas Education Agency on Monday.
Morath will oversee the state’s 1,200 school districts and charter schools. He has served on the Dallas Independent School District (DISD) Board of Trustees since his election to that position in 2011.
Gov. Abbott’s statement refers to Morath as a successful “change-agent.” While at DISD, Morath is credited with guiding a new teacher evaluation and compensation system, becoming the first major school system in the state to pay teachers based on performance rather than seniority. Pay for top teachers was raised to $90,000, while total spending remained the same.
Morath’s other accomplishments in DISD include raising graduation rates from 75 percent in 2010 to 87 percent for the class of 2014. African-American and Hispanic student performance on Advanced Placement exams jumped almost 50 percent from 2011 to 2014, the governor’s office continued.
“The State of Texas is exceptional, and our education system must be too,” said Gov. Abbott. “A proven education reformer, Mike Morath will not accept the status quo in our schools. He is committed to innovative solutions that will empower Texas principals, teachers, and students to strive for the highest in education excellence.” Morath has led climbs up Mount Rainier and climbed the 20,305 foot Island Peak near Mount Everest, the governor continued. “Now he will help Texas education reach new heights.”
Morath said he was honored by the governor’s appointment and that he looked forward to making Texas the number one school system in the country. “I realize that no school system’s students can outperform their teachers, and supporting our teachers to improve teaching quality are essential in our public education system,” he said.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick called his appointment “a great day for the future of education in Texas.” As chair of the Senate Education Committee, Patrick worked closely with Morath.
The Garland High School graduate went to The George Washington University, where he completed his degree in just two and a half years with top honors, the governor’s statement says.
Morath also serves as the Chairman of Morath Investments, managing a small portfolio of investments. Previously, he served as President and COO of Minute Menu Systems, a company that provided information systems to help manage a $2.5 billion federal child nutrition program.
He succeeds Commissioner Michael Williams, who was appointed by former Gov. Rick Perry on Sept. 1, 2012.
In October, Williams said he was stepping down from the position to be closer to home with his wife, after commuting about 200 miles on weekends for 16 years. Commissioner Williams spoke with KXAN’s Phil Prazan, discussing the highs and lows of the job.