Texas Attorney General – and possible gubernatorial candidate — Greg Abbott traveled to Houston last year to learn about the Houston schools’ Apollo 20 turnaround program, a visit an Abbott spokesman said sprang from Abbott’s interest in education.
“Studying education policy is not only a personal and professional passion (of Abbott’s)—but it must be a priority in the Lone Star State,” Sarah Floerke, Abbott’s campaign director, wrote Texas Watchdog in an e-mail.
Houston Independent School District spokesman Jason Spencer echoed Floerke.
“Greg Abbott was personally interested in the program, so district officials gave him a briefing on Apollo 20,” Spencer said in an interview.
Asked specifically whether Abbott’s interest in Apollo 20 was connected to his possible run for governor in 2014, Floerke said only, “As a state official, General Abbott is interested in programs like Apollo 20 that show promise for improving education for Texas children.”
Asked what Abbott thought of Apollo 20 after learning more about it, Floerke was similarly vague: “The Apollo 20 program has yielded some promising results that warrant further review and analysis.”
Superintendent Terry Grier has highlighted the $20 million Apollo 20 as a signature effort in education reform for the nation’s seventh-largest school district. Recently highlighted in a major piece in The New York Times, Apollo 20 features extended school days and intensive tutoring to try to help some of Houston’s most troubled schools.
Roland Fryer, faculty director at Harvard University’s Education Innovation Laboratory, is working with district educators to implement the program.
The program has also been controversial. Critics of Apollo 20 have said that district officials are improperly funding the program with public money and that problems exist in its academic rigor, teaching approaches and the lack of student engagement.
Attorney General senior adviser Erin Hodges accompanied Abbott to the HISD meeting on Aug. 16.
HISD officials did not answer two requests from Texas Watchdog to identify district officials who attended the meeting. An e-mail mentioning the meeting, recently made public by HISD, said Jeremy Beard, HISD’s former head of the Apollo program, was You can read the rest of this article at: http://www.texaswatchdog.org/2012/01/texas-attorney-general-greg-abbott-meets-with-houston-isd-to-discuss-hisd-apollo-20/1326390214.column
You can read the rest of this article at: http://www.texaswatchdog.org/2012/01/texas-attorney-general-greg-abbott-meets-with-houston-isd-to-discuss-hisd-apollo-20/1326390214.column