AUSTIN (KXAN) - The Texas Railroad Commission chairman will now serve as head of the Texas Education Agency after being appointed to the post by Gov. Rick Perry.
"High standards and accountable public schools are essential to our state's future success, and no two people understand that better than Michael and Lizzette. Together, they will build on the improvements achieved during the tenure of Robert Scott and Todd Webster, and will ensure our children are prepared for the challenges of college and the workplace," Gov. Perry said. "Michael's pioneering leadership in both public and private sectors, combined with Lizzette's nearly two decades of public education experience guiding and implementing statewide reforms create a powerful and dynamic team that will fortify our state's public education system."
Michael Williams served as Assistant Secretary of Education for Civil Rights under former President George W. Bush, who appointed Williams to the Railroad Commission in 1998. Williams was subsequently elected three times.
He most recently sought the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate, but then chose to run for U.S. Congress . He lost his bid in the primary held May 31. Williams is a former adjunct professor at the Texas Southern University School of Public Affairs and Texas Wesleyan University School of Law.
The Texas State Teachers Association is not pleased with the appointment of Williams, however. The group issued a statement Monday afternoon, saying:
"The Texas State Teachers Association is disappointed that Gov. Rick Perry -- at a pivotal time for Texas public schools -- didn't chose an education professional as the next State Commissioner of Education. We hope that Michael Williams will at least listen to teachers, the real education experts, rather than promote the profiteers who would siphon tax dollars from the public schools for vouchers and other privatization schemes. But the real problem for Texas public schools is not the education commissioner. The real problem is Rick Perry. As long as he is governor, Perry will continue to try to shove public education in Texas back into the nineteenth century."
Robert Scott, former TEA Commissioner, left the position in July after five years.
Williams is a past chairman of the Governor's Competitiveness Council and Governor's Clean Coal Technology Council, and past member of the Southern State Energy Board, National Coal Council and Interstate Mining Compact Commission. He is also past chairman of the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission, former honorary chairman of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Texas, and a past board member of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce, Texas Public Policy Foundation and Our Mother of Mercy Catholic School. Williams received a bachelor's degree, a master's degree in Public Administration, and a law degree from the University of Southern California.
TEA oversees more than 1,200 school districts in Texas, including charter schools. It does not oversee any private schools or those affiliated with religious institutions.
Reynolds has served as Deputy Commissioner for Policy and Programs at TEA since 2007, providing strategy and oversight in the areas of curriculum, assessment, accountability, educator quality, school accreditation, and school improvement. Prior to joining TEA, she served as Region VI Representative for Secretary Margaret Spellings at the U.S. DOE, where she also served as a special assistant for the Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs. Reynolds is a former assistant director of the Institute for Public School Initiatives at the University of Texas System, has worked in the private sector as a principal at Public Strategies Inc., and served as deputy legislative director for the Texas Governor's Office under Governor George W. Bush. Reynolds received a bachelor's degree from Southwestern University.
More than 100 trees covered in lights now shine bright throughout Zilker Park. The Trail of Lights is open for another season.
A 10-year-old was killed while standing outside of a vehicle which lost control during the icy conditions, DPS said.
Travis County non-profit Center for Child Protection will benefit next March from an all day fundraiser at the Circuit of the Americas that will see plenty of donors racing on the track.
Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg heads to court this week as a defendant in a civil trial that could oust her from office.
Santa visited Austin early on Sunday, joining hundreds of motorcyclists for their annual Toy Run.
Late Saturday night into early Sunday morning, a light band of freezing drizzle traversed the I-35 corridor eastward. With sub-freezing temperatures, even the light precipitation created major problems.