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« Texas' Interest Payments On Government Debt: Third Lowest In America. | WILLisms.com | Texas Forest Service Budget As High As It Has Ever Been. »

Myths and flat out lies about Texas and Rick Perry- Education.

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 939 -- Liberal Criticisms Against Texas: That Dog Won't Hunt-

Barack Obama's Secretary of Education Arne Duncan decided to weigh in on Texas' education system last week, making a politically driven attack on Rick Perry on behalf of a feckless President whose numbers are tanking. It was an epic failure.

Education reporter Rodger Jones of the Dallas Morning News, certainly no conservative, blasted Duncan:

Education Secretary Arne Duncan's insult to Texas public education was a politically motivated distortion that doesn't become a federal official in his position.

What a load this guy is.

We shouldn't hear lies come out of the mouth of the nation's top education official...

"Lies" is a pretty strong word. After all, Andrew J. Rotherham of Time magazine took issue with Duncan, but being a Time magazine writer, he gave the Education Secretary the benefit of the doubt, saying he was "confused" by the politically motivated attack on Texas.

So what was the deal? What did Duncan say that was so egregious as to raise the ire of even the left-leaning education press?

More from Rodger Jones of the DMN:

The tipoff that Duncan doesn't care about facts was his statement about "massive increases in class size in Texas" during Rick Perry's time in the governor's office.

Does that sound right to you -- considering the fact that the 22-1 class-size cap has been in place that whole time for primary grades?

I checked TEA records on statewide class size averages. Primary grades held steady, of course, while most secondary class averages went down during the Perry years.

Examples: Secondary math classes averaged 20.3 students in 2000-01 and dropped to 18.5 by last year. Average size of secondary English/language arts classes fell from 20.2 students in 2000-01 to 17.8 by last year.

Anybody could look this stuff up. It's right there on the TEA website. Duncan surely has a few thousand employees who could help him find it.

Class sizes fell under Rick Perry. Period. And, yet, Duncan asserted "massive increases" in class size. That really does seem to cross the line from "confused" into just "flat out lying," as Ed Morrissey put it over at Hot Air.

Even the New York Times got in on the action, in Paul Krugman's usual spot (he's sort of on vacation), imploring people not to mess with Texas:

When a 2009 McKinsey study contrasted Perry’s home state to the similarly sized and situated California, it found that Texas students were “one to two years of learning ahead of California students of the same age, even though Texas has less income per capita and spends less per pupil than California.”

When it comes to minority achievement, Texas looks even better: On the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress math exam, black eighth graders in Texas outscored black eighth graders in every other state.

This is incredibly important. Texas has been a sponge for migrants both from inside the country and from foreign countries, particularly Mexico. Texas is now a minority-majority state. This is important when averaging the score of millions of people together. As I've noted before here (with a great assist from Iowahawk), Texas' white kids outperform the nation's white kids, Texas' black kids outperform the nation's black kids, and Texas' Hispanic kids outperform the nation's Hispanic kids.

Some numbers and graphics to ruminate on:

2009 4th Grade Math
White students: Texas 254, Wisconsin 250 (national average 248)
Black students: Texas 231, Wisconsin 217 (national 222)
Hispanic students: Texas 233, Wisconsin 228 (national 227)

Fourth grade math scores, sorted by state:


Fourth grade math scores, sorted by race:



2009 8th Grade Math
White students: Texas 301, Wisconsin 294 (national 294)
Black students: Texas 272, Wisconsin 254 (national 260)
Hispanic students: Texas 277, Wisconsin 268 (national 260)

Eighth grade math scores, sorted by state:


Eighth grade math scores, sorted by race:



2009 4th Grade Reading
White students: Texas 232, Wisconsin 227 (national 229)
Black students: Texas 213, Wisconsin 192 (national 204)
Hispanic students: Texas 210, Wisconsin 202 (national 204)

Fourth grade reading scores, sorted by state:


Fourth grade reading scores, sorted by race:



2009 8th Grade Reading
White students: Texas 273, Wisconsin 271 (national 271)
Black students: Texas 249, Wisconsin 238 (national 245)
Hispanic students: Texas 251, Wisconsin 250 (national 248)

Eighth grade reading scores, sorted by state:


Eighth grade reading scores, sorted by race:



2009 4th Grade Science
White students: Texas 168, Wisconsin 164 (national 162)
Black students: Texas 139, Wisconsin 121 (national 127)
Hispanic students: Wisconsin 138, Texas 136 (national 130)

Fourth grade science scores, sorted by state:


Fourth grade science scores, sorted by race:



2009 8th Grade Science
White students: Texas 167, Wisconsin 165 (national 161)
Black students: Texas 133, Wisconsin 120 (national 125)
Hispanic students: Texas 141, Wisconsin 134 (national 131)

Eighth grade science scores, sorted by state:


Eighth grade science scores, sorted by race:


The RAND Corporation studied this phenomenon, as well, and confirmed that Texas students outperform their national counterparts.

Texas can boast the top 2 public high schools in America. Plus 6 of the top 14. 7 of the top 20. And 13 of the top 38:


The next time someone claims Texas ranks "near the bottom" in education, ask them to read this post and get back with you.

The Heritage Foundation mocks Duncan's "crocodile tears" and explains how mediocrity has become the name of the game in the national education discussion:

68 percent of districts across the United States are below the 50th percentile in mathematics achievement. In more than half of states, no more than three districts have average student math performance that would place students in the upper third of math achievement in international comparisons.

Indeed, while beating national averages is not necessarily anything to write home about, it is still critical to acknowledge that the Texas model, far from perfect, has beaten the Chicago model. The Texas model may even very well may be a model for closing the minority achievement gap in other states, as well.

Knowing all of this, watch the hackery from the Obama lackey for yourself:

Texas Commissioner of Education Robert Scott fired back with some facts:

-- In 2009, Texas ranked 7th in a 26 state comparison of the only states reporting four-year on-time graduation rates. That year Texas' on-time graduation rate was 80.6%. The Texas on-time graduation rate for 2010 is now 84.3%, an amazing 3.7 percentage point increase in a single year on the dropout indicator that you are now requiring all states to report to the Department.

-- The Texas class of 2011 posted a record-high math score on the ACT college entrance exam. The Texas average math score was 21.5 and was higher than the national average of 21.1. ACT scores from 2007 to 2011 showed increases in all four subjects.

-- The 2009 NAEP Science results were impressive, as well. Texas' African American eighth-grade students earned the highest score in the nation and our Hispanic eighth-grade students were eighth. Only eighth-grade students attending the Department of Defense schools scored higher than Texas' white students who were tied with white students in Massachusetts. On the fourth-grade test, Texas' African American students out-performed their peers in every state accept Virginia and those students attending Department of Defense Schools. Texas' fourth-grade white students were ranked third behind only Virginia and Massachusetts.

This Duncan guy was chosen because he was a loyal player in the Chicago political machine, not because he is competent or innovative.

The smackdown he has received from even reporters who tend to sympathize with his team may mean we won't be hearing much from Arne Duncan for a while. This really blew up in Team Obama's face.

Texas has major education challenges, no doubt, both in K-12 and higher ed. The growth of local school district spending on extraneous facilities and administrators is a serious problem, for example. But if you want to bring weak sauce about Texas, as Obama's education guru did, prepare to look foolish.

Myth(s): debunked.

UPDATE: Didn't even notice this before. Arne Duncan used incorrectical grammars when criticizing Texas and Rick Perry.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Texas State Government Debt Is Among The Lowest In America.

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Posted by Will Franklin · 22 August 2011 01:37 PM