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Wednesday, June 9, 1999

Perry's school visit highlights changes for area teachers


Staff Writer

Making a stop in Abilene to report major victories for education in the year’s legislative session, Lt. Gov. Rick Perry was in for a show Tuesday at Abilene Christian University’s Brown Library.

Perry was greeted with costumes, cartwheels, Hula Hoops and 40 eager children awaiting his promise to read them a story, part of their summer reading clinic. The students listened intently as Perry read the book How Michael Built a Bicycle, which he followed up with a discussion on the value of reading education.

Abilene was Perry’s third stop in a tour of four Texas cities that also took him to Amarillo, Lubbock and San Angelo.

“The report card is very good — I give it an A for achievement,” Perry said. “This is the best legislative session for children, teachers and taxpayers we have ever had.”

Perry spoke primarily about the impact new education initiatives would have on Abilene, highlighting the effects of the $3,000 teacher pay raise, bills concerning social promotion, the Master Reading Teacher plan, and funding for after-school programs.

He said the Master Reading plan, a program that allows teachers to become certified reading experts, would supply students with new reading technology in the classroom.

“This is my favorite because it rewards teachers and students,” Perry said. “The next thing I would like is math and science to get involved because children are going to benefit.”

He said teachers who volunteer to participate will receive a $5,000 annual bonus in addition to the legislative pay increase.

“Teachers are going to start feeling the impact of the $3,000 increase Sept. 1 when they get their first paychecks,” Perry said. “They are going to start seeing some nice numbers.”

The $25 million grant for before and after-school programs were also high on Perry’s list of accomplishments and central to keeping juveniles out of trouble, he said.

“Maybe kids are living with a single parent and don’t have any alternatives, so we want to expand and create more of these programs,” said Perry, adding that the Boys and Girls Club of Abilene will be a major recipient of the funds.

“We don’t throw in the towel in Texas,” Perry said, outlining the social promotion bill. “We need to make the commitment to every child held back to focus on reading difficulties and learning difficulties so the child can progress in a positive way.”

Perry followed up his speech by outlining legislation that will increase economic opportunities for Texans and the impact of tax exemptions on over-the-counter drugs.

Katy Marquardt can be reached at 676-6767 or marquardtk@abinews.com

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