Dallas ISD Trustee Mike Morath Named Texas Education Commissioner
New Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath, in the midst of one of the shortest graduation speeches of all time in 2013.
Mike Morath, the reform-minded former Mike Miles ally who currently sits in the District 2 seat on the Dallas ISD school board, is now the highest ranking education official in the state of Texas.
Since being elected to the school board in 2011, Morath, along with former superintendent Miles and fellow board member Miguel Solis, pushed for tougher evaluation methods for Dallas ISD teachers, choice schools without academic- or performance-based admissions and the way the district approaches early-childhood education. He was also a strong supporter of the charge to make Dallas ISD a home-rule charter school district. Until now, the biggest prize all his hard work had netted him was a 2015 Best of Dallas award from the Observer for "Best School Board Member:"
No matter what you've heard about the Dallas school board over the last year, picking the best member isn't easy. Miguel Solis, for example, did a yeoman's job as board president, stitching together consensus in a body ripped by controversy. But Mike Morath is the one who has suffered the worst slings and arrows, usually for his devotion to research and logical thinking. Through it all he has displayed a remarkable ability to grin and bear it. Asked recently if he thought the end could be near for public education, he said, "If we give up on public schools, we give up on America."
Apparently, Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who shares Morath's focus on Texas' youngest public school students, received Morath and Miles' reform efforts better than other members of the Dallas ISD board, who were happy to see Miles leave when the former superintendent resigned in June.
“The State of Texas is exceptional, and our education system must be too,” Abbott said in announcing Morath's appointment. “A proven education reformer, Mike Morath will not accept the status quo in our schools. He is committed to innovative solutions that will empower Texas principals, teachers and students to strive for the highest in education excellence. Mike Morath has led climbs up Mount Rainier and climbed the 20,305 foot Island Peak near Mount Everest. Now he will help Texas education reach new heights.”
Morath, who has not yet returned a phone call, celebrated his appointment in a press release.
"I’m honored by Governor Abbott’s appointment, and for the opportunity to serve our kids with a focus on improving student outcomes,” Morath said. “As a DISD trustee, I watched with amazement the tremendous skill and love our teachers and staff pour into our students every day. I realize that no school system’s students can outperform their teachers, and supporting our teachers to improve teaching quality are essential in our public education system. I look forward to advancing that quality, as well as student outcomes, to ensure Texas becomes the number one school system in the nation.”
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings also lauded the appointment.
"Governor Abbott’s appointment of Dallas’ Mike Morath as Commissioner of the Texas Education Agency is a farsighted and smart choice for the children of our state. Mike’s passion for children of all backgrounds combined with his intellect makes him perfect for this job. Dallas ISD will lose a great trustee, but I know Texas schools will be better because of this decision,” the mayor said Monday afternoon.
Morath now heads the Texas Education Agency and oversees the state's 1,200 school districts and charter schools. He also, it should be noted, is a helluva graduation speaker:
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Observer's biggest stories.