AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Tea party activist and former Railroad Commission Chairman Michael Williams has been named Texas' top education official.
Gov. Rick Perry tapped Williams on Monday to succeed Robert Scott, who stepped down in July after 5 years heading the Texas Education Agency. Scott had made headlines after suggesting that the state's standardized testing requirements had become a "perversion" of their original intent.
Williams served as assistant U.S. secretary of education for civil rights under President George H.W. Bush.
He was appointed to the Railroad Commission in 1998 and subsequently elected three times. But Williams left his post last year, considered running for U.S. Senate and instead became one of 10 Republicans vying for the GOP nomination in the 25th Congressional District.
Williams was defeated in the May 29 primary.
Members of the Texas State Teachers Association were disappointed by the choice.
“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," association president Rita Haecker said in a statement released Monday. "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."
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.