Governor selects Mike Morath to be new Texas commissioner of education

It was announced today that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has tapped Mike Morath to serve as the state’s next commissioner of education. Morath will succeed Commissioner Michael Williams who is stepping down at the end of the year.

Morath is a business executive with a background in finance. He has been a member of the Dallas Independent School District (DISD) board of trustees since 2011. Morath gained notoriety when he joined reformers in voicing strong support for an effort last year to make DISD the first-ever home rule charter district in Texas. That effort, which was underwritten in large part by the Arnold Foundation, failed, as we reported on Teach the Vote. Morath also serves on the advisory board of Texans for Education Reform (TER).

Today’s announcement comes just one month after Abbott also selected Morath to chair the new Texas Commission on Next Generation Assessments and Accountability, which the legislature created to recommend changes to our state’s student testing and accountability systems. The governor’s press release today states that “Morath is a product of Texas public schools” and that he once briefly taught computer science at Garland High School “during a school year when the previous teacher unexpectedly resigned.”

There has been much speculation lately as to whether the governor would select an education insider or a reformer/business leader to head the Texas Education Agency going forward. Morath’s name was not one that was more widely circulated, but his selection sends another signal that Abbott is very interested in the agenda of the education reform and pro-privatization crowd. Morath joins the list of other recent reform-minded appointees we’ve written about on Teach the Vote, such as newly-minted Pension Review Board chair Josh McGee.

As the state’s largest educator association, ATPE looks forward to an opportunity to meet with Morath and share our members’ input and experiences with him. We anticipate that he will want to pursue innovative approaches to regulations dealing with such issues as charter schools, teacher appraisals, and student testing. We hope that Morath will be the type of commissioner who is receptive to educators’ voices in matters of policy and will support local control.

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8 thoughts on “Governor selects Mike Morath to be new Texas commissioner of education

  1. Deann

    Well, we’ll see this as an opportunity to educate a newcomer to OUR way of thinking. Thank you for the background information. It confirmed what I thought I recalled about him.

    1. Melissa

      If I am required by the state of Texas to hold a certification, I think the person making decisions for me and my children should be, also!

  2. Tracy Garner

    The educational system in Texas is a joke. I have 2 children in the public school system and they not have a basic education. They are so far behind what I would expect it makes me sick. The school does not provide any information on what is being taught. I have a masters degree. I can help my child, but only if the school gives me an idea of what is being taught. My child were been told not to discuss what they learn in school.The teachers refused to provide a syllabus for the school year. I found documentation at the end of the school year in my children’s backpacks stating not to discuss the exam or anything about the exam with parents and not to take any materials home until the school year ended. The kids do not even bring home textbooks. They do worksheets. The last school focuses so heavily on worksheets they only graded some of them and picked the ones to record for grades. This told me their grades were FABRICATED. There is strong possibility according to the new school that neither of them may pass to the next grade level. I am so mad. I have paid taxes for years and this is my return on investment the state puts into the childrens future??? One day they will work in the same company as you or for me in my company. I would like to think they have enough education to start and complete college.

    1. CM

      Maybe you should learn to spell and correct your own grammar if you’re going to knock the Texas education system???????????

  3. Yvette Milner

    It would be so nice to be able to teach, knowing that the new commissioner “had my back” and was in touch with what is happening in public schools today. Abbott’s appointment of Morath sends a very clear message to educators. Once again, we will have to do our teaching jobs and pay close attention to what is happening in Austin.

    So thankful that ATPE’s makes it easier for those of us with public education as a true priority to stay informed.

  4. Sherry Whitton

    I do find it encouraging that he did teach at least part of year in a public high school. I also find it encouraging that he has served on a school board for the last 4 years so perhaps he has some basic information on education. I agree with the contributor above – I think if you are going to make decisions about education, you should at least hold a teaching certificate. I would expect the medical review board to hold a license to practice medicine and the Law Board to hold a license to practice law…..

  5. Bonnie Millican

    Elections have consequences. So we can thank all the educators who voted for Abbot and Dan Patrick for the fight we are about to have to wage. Not only do students not do their homework, it appears that educators don’t either. Know the candidates’ philosophy and read what they stand for. Don’t just accept the empty rhetoric: study and learn and make an educated choice. Just because there is an “R” or “D” behind their name does not mean they have your best interests at heart.


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