Texas Governor Calls Opponent a ‘Jerk’ in Dispute Over Schools

<i> From Associated Press</i>

Gov. Ann Richards, who ridiculed George Bush six years ago, has insulted his son as “some jerk who’s running for public office.”

Richards’ spokesman, Chuck McDonald, said she was angry about a contention by George W. Bush, her Republican rival this year, that student achievement scores and school-rating systems were juggled in an election-year effort to make Texas education look better. The governor believes that the progress is because of hard work by children and teachers, McDonald said.

While speaking Tuesday to supporters in eastern Texas, Richards praised Debbie Coleman, Texarkana’s “Teacher of the Year, and then said:

“You just work like a dog, do well, the test scores are up, the kids are looking better, the dropout rate is down. And all of a sudden, you’ve got some jerk who’s running for public office telling everybody it’s all a sham and it isn’t real and he doesn’t give you credit for doing your job. So far as he is concerned, everything in Texas is terrible.”


Bush said he favors freeing teachers, administrators and students from a “centralized state bureaucracy to allow them to teach what works in their classrooms.”

He said Richards has allowed the Texas Education Agency “to pile on red tape, paperwork and regulations.”

Bush issued a statement Wednesday saying that Richards, “with her derogatory name-calling and repeated disparaging remarks about my background . . . seems to be asking how dare anyone run against her.”

Richards, then the state treasurer, delivered the keynote speech at the 1988 Democratic National Convention, ridiculing then-Vice President Bush in a memorable phrase: “Poor George, he can’t help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth.”