Lt. Gov. Bill Ratliff: It Is Not the Education Critic That Counts

October 8, 2013 |

In his speech to the assembled community leaders at the recent Raise Your Hand Texas Leaders in Education luncheon in Tyler, former Lt. Governor Bill Ratliff built his remarks around a paraphrasing of President Teddy Roosevelt’s famous “Man in the Arena” speech to mount a spirited defense of Texas teachers.

In his remarks, Ratliff challenged critics who continually harp on the shortcomings of Texas public schools, and teachers in particular, and contrasted the positive approach of Raise Your Hand Texas while urging the audience to be involved as a positive voice, saying:

We believe there should be an unbiased, credible group which is not affiliated with schools in any way, but which can correct the misinformation being disseminated by those who seem intent upon running down our public schools. Raise Your Hand Texas is attempting to serve in that role.

Second, we plan to advocate for our public schools by celebrating the good news about what is going on in the vast majority of those schools. There are many, many truly inspirational stories of extraordinary things going on in our public schools, but these are not the stories that make the headlines.

There are statistics that can be highlighted which prove that, while we are not yet where we want to be in educational quality, we are not nearly as bad as most people have been led to believe, and in many cases we are doing quite well by any standard.

Third, instead of criticizing the educators who are on the front lines, we want to put forward proposals that can help our educators do an even better job of educating our youth.

My message to you today is that our public schools deserve our support, and to a large extent, they are not today receiving that support. Instead they are the constant targets of criticism by those who, for whatever reason, have an agenda that consists of pointing out every wart on the system but not acknowledging its successes.

I would call on each of you to heed President Teddy Roosevelt’s paraphrased words: “It is not the education critic that counts; not the person who points out how teachers have stumbled or where the person in the classroom could have done it better. The credit belongs to the person who is actually in the classroom.”

Well said! If these remarks are meaningful to you, we hope that you will join us in our efforts to strengthen Texas public schools for all students at


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