Bush Campaign Lies

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Bush Campaign Lie #52: As Governor, George Bush Enacted (Education) Reforms that Produced Dramatic Results 

This is the opening boast in a recent Bush ad. It's a refrain carried over from his 2000 campaign. And in a strictly literal sense, it's true: the results of Bush's reforms were quite dramatic. But team Bush appears to be implying that the results of the Texas reform were actually good, when in fact they were anything but.

Among other things, one whistleblower reports that the city of Houston, where current Education Secretary Rod Paige was superintendent from 1994 to 2001, reported an official dropout rate of 1.5%, when the true rate was something between 25% and 50%. The official rates were obtained by cooking the books on a large scale, something Paige encouraged by firing principals who reported a high dropout rate, while awarding $5,000 bonuses to those reporting a low rate.

Then there's the testing which is the Bush administration's magic bullet for education. The Republicans heap scorn on Kerry for suggesting that other accountability measures should be used in addition to testing (see lie #18), but it turns out that their own devotion to testing didn't work out so well in Houston. By requiring a high pass rate on a statewide achievement test in 10th grade, many teachers saw to it that certain students were never allowed to make it to the 10th grade, and some would sit through the ninth grade two or more times before being promoted directly to the 11th grade. Needless to say, many of these kids choose to drop out rather than put up with such nonsense. These children are definitely getting left behind.

(Thanks to the O'Franken Factor for this story. The New York Times has more about the Texas Miracle which became the Texas Mirage. In a previous life, I discussed how dropout rates are criminally underreported --- and not just in Texas.)

9:59 PM