SOUTH PADRE ISLAND — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis told a gathering of Texas journalists Saturday that the state’s public education system needs to change and that her Republican opponent represents the status quo.

Speaking at the Associated Press Managing Editors annual meeting in South Padre Island, the Fort Worth senator contrasted her education proposals with those of state Attorney General Greg Abbott, the Republican nominee who released the first pieces of his education plan just days earlier.

“His proposals this week reflect a business as usual approach that will undermine and weaken our schools,” Davis said. “Under his pre-K proposal, he picks and chooses which children will get a quality education.”

Abbott this week outlined a prekindergarten plan that calls on districts to improve the quality of preschool before the state considers spending money on full-day programs. At an elementary school in Weslaco on Monday, Abbott proposed up to $118 million in pre-K dollars for districts that meet higher standards.

On Saturday, Davis said that wasn’t enough.

“Full-day versus half-day pre-k programs produce better and longer term benefits not only in terms of child development but ultimately achievement in life,” Davis said. “We are putting our economy at risk because these are the people that we need to fill the jobs of tomorrow.”

Abbott also was invited to speak Saturday but was unavailable. Spokesman Matt Hirsch said Abbott’s education proposals aim at making Texas first in education.

The Associated Press is a not-for-profit cooperative owned by American newspapers and broadcasters.

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