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Governor visits Victoria pumping education, election


Aug. 25, 2010 at 3:25 a.m.

Under the watchful eye of his ever-present security, Texas Gov. Rick Perry listens to Commissioner on Education Robert Scott explain a new Internet-based education initiative for teachers. Perry introduced the program locally while speaking at Cade Middle School on Wednesday afternoon.

Gov. Rick Perry made a two-for-one stop in Victoria to publicize a new Texas Education iTunes channel and campaign for the November election.

Perry visited with students and school administrators at Cade Middle School, along with Education Commissioner Robert Scott to promote the Texas Education iTunes U channel. The channel allows educators, students and the public to share multimedia teaching materials online.

The program, which cost the state about $1 million, was announced Tuesday.

"It's not just for students. All Texas can have access," Scott said. "Not just in the classroom, but on the go."

The program will partner with the Public Broadcasting System, National Archives and other groups to provide educational content on the site.

"A lot of this material already exists, but it's overlooked or it's hard to put your arms around," Perry said. "This is going to put it in an easy way to disseminate and to find."

Teachers can access or upload audio and video files to use in their classrooms, and the Texas Education Agency will vet user-submitted materials before adding the content.

The Victoria school district has spent about $8 million on technology in the last four years, but not every student has access to a computer.

Scott said the channel, along with additional funding from the state, will help push districts to get to that level.

"We've been continually supporting increasing the technology allotment for many years," he said. "Obviously, this is going to be a difficult budget year, but I think there's always some possibility for it."

Susanne Carroll, executive director of research, planning, accountability and student services, said she could see the district using the program soon, but online safety issues must be addressed before students can access content.

"I think teachers will have to be very creative of how they use them in the classroom and how they monitor them in the classroom," she said.

Perry praised the district for its accomplishments this year before outlining educational legislative initiatives for the 2011 session.

"You're exhibit 'A' of what every district in the state of Texas would like to be," he said.

New initiatives include a $160 million expansion of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math program, and providing a $1,500 tax credit to employers who give employees time to complete a diploma or GED.

Following the news conference, Perry met with about 100 supporters and applauded the state's favorable business climate, citing Caterpillar's recent move to town as an example.

"They did their homework," he said. "They knew we weren't going to over tax them, they knew we weren't going to over-regulate them."

Perry poked fun at over-spending in Washington and lashed out about the "nonsense" of government-run healthcare while pushing his re-election.

"November is really about sending a message that we want our country back," he said.



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