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Bush Center President Margaret Spellings Discusses Home-Rule Law She Helped Write

Krystina Martinez
Margaret Spellings, president of the George W. Bush Presidential Center and a former U.S. Education Secretary, talked with KERA's Rick Holter this week.

The George W. Bush Presidential Center celebrated its first birthday on Thursday. The center – whose library hosted a bigger-than-expected 450,000 visitors in the first year – also includes an institute that focuses on six key policy areas. Margaret Spellings, the Bush Center’s president and a former U.S. Education Secretary, sits down with KERA’s vice president of news, Rick Holter, for this week’s Friday Conversation.

Interview Highlights: Margaret Spellings…

… on the thinking behind writing the “home-rule” school law, which Dallas is considering: “The idea was this: If we were going to be honest with ourselves about holding schools accountable, how you get there is a matter of local prerogative. We ought to be very hawk-ish about local control and local authorities, provided that there are results at the end of the day. I’m sorry that the debate has seemed to deteriorate a bit, but I’m a fan of the process and the philosophy behind it that says, ‘We trust local communities, provided that they’re getting results for students.’”  

... on what she would have done to eliminate some confusion in the home-rule debate:

“People didn’t really understand what it was that needed to be fixed here, and so I think the case-making for why we needed this particular tool at this particular time maybe was a little bit presumed, that people had those levels of knowledge. And, secondly, I think the supporters – and I would count myself among them – needed to do a better job of describing what the changes might be, what specifically ... and be very transparent about that.”

… on fighting the "sophomore slump" that plagues most museums:

“We’ll be having a number of temporary exhibits this year. We’re featuring the president’s portraits through early June. President Bush is hosting our fourth Warrior Bike Ride down at the ranch, where wounded warriors come and ride with him. ... We will be partnering more aggressively with Dallas ISD. Superintendent [Mike] Miles and I have talked about some ways to work together and so we want to make a real impact in this community.”

Catch up on KERA's coverage of the Dallas home-rule proposal:

From Monday: Supporters Of Home-Rule Proposal Explain Why They Want To Reform Dallas Schools

From Tuesday: Dallas Home-Rule School Opponents Fear They'll Lose Representation And Rights

From Tuesday: Listen To Mayor Rawlings And DISD's Nutall Discuss Home-Rule On KERA's "Think"

From Tuesday: Dallas Mayor Rawlings Tells KERA: Toyota Chose Plano Over Dallas Because Of DISD

Former KERA staffer Krystina Martinez was an assistant producer. She produced local content for Morning Edition and She also produced The Friday Conversation, a weekly series of conversations with North Texas newsmakers. Krystina was also the backup newscaster for the Texas Standard.
Rick Holter was KERA's vice president of news. He oversaw news coverage on all of KERA's platforms – radio, digital and television. Under his leadership, KERA News earned more than 200 local, regional and national awards, including the station's first two national Edward R. Murrow Awards. He and the KERA News staff were also part of NPR's Ebola-coverage team that won a George Foster Peabody Award, broadcasting's highest honor.