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« Voting With Their Feet: Texas Cities Lead Nation In Population Growth. | WILLisms.com | Texas Now Boasts Perfect Credit Ratings, Media Missing In Action »

On Texas Exceptionalism.

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 973 -- Texas Exceptionalism-

There's an odd, meandering, miss-the-point blog post by Jonathan Tilove over at the Austin American-Statesman regarding Texas Exceptionalism, which tries (and fails) to make the case that Texas is maybe only exceptionally racist. Or that its politicians are racist. Or something. In this strange post is an even stranger and fact-lacking comment from SMU professor Cal Jillson:

When I called Jillson, he was working on a new edition of his book, Lone Star Tarnished: A Critical Look at Texas Politics and Public Policy, and, he noted, when Perry or Abbott or others tout Texas as a model for the nation, "the part of this that is never highlighted is that if you compare Anglo Texans to Anglos in the othe [sic] 49 states, Anglos come out about 13th, but if you compare black Texans to blacks in other states they come out 20-something, and if you compare Hispanics in Texas to Hispanics elsewhere, they come out like 42nd."

In what?

If Tilove and Jillson want to play the "compare Texas Anglos to Anglos elsewhere, compare Texas Hispanics to Hispanics elsewhere, and compare Texas blacks to blacks elsewhere" game, let's at least be clear about what we're comparing.

Since they didn't give any data or sources, I'll fill in the gaps for them.

Let's look at education, an issue on which people love to trash Texas.

I've already extensively debunked myths about Texas education here (and here), but let's do it anew.

Per Jillson's criteria, let's look at Anglos in Texas versus Anglos elsewhere, let's look at Hispanics in Texas versus Hispanics elsewhere, and let's look at blacks in Texas versus blacks elsewhere, using National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) data.

8th Grade MATH-

Anglos: White Texas 8th-graders are tied for second best in the nation, behind only the wealthy white kids who live in Washington, D.C.

Hispanics: For Hispanics, Texas trails only Montana.

Blacks: For blacks, Texas is tied with Hawaii for number one in the nation.

Here's a visual of that:


8th Grade SCIENCE-

Anglos: White kids in Texas trail white kids from only a handful of states (D.C., Colorado, Massachusetts, Virginia, North Dakota, and Minnesota), and the numbers are all pretty close.

Hispanics: Only Hispanic kids from Ohio, South Dakota, Kentucky, and Alaska do better than Hispanic kids from Texas.

Blacks: Only black kids from Colorado and Virginia perform better than black kids from Texas.

And on and on it goes. Texas ranks among the best in the nation in education in most education categories. And when it comes to dropout rates, Texas has one of the best stories to tell in the country (.pdf). The Texas Education Agency lays out the Texas story, based on U.S. Department of Education data:

*Number 1 with Asian students with a graduation rate of 95 percent.

*Number 1 for white students with a graduation rate of 92 percent.

*Number 1 by tying with Montana with a graduation rate of 81 percent for African-American students.

*Has the third highest graduation rate for all students, tying with Tennessee, New Hampshire, Indiana, Nebraska and North Dakota with a rate of 86 percent. Iowa, Vermont and Wisconsin exceed Texas by one to two percentage points.

*Number 2 for Hispanic students with a graduation rate of 82 percent, behind only Maine.

*Number 2 for children with disabilities who graduate at a rate of 77 percent. Only South Dakota had a higher rate.

*In a tie for second place with Missouri for multi-racial students who have a graduation rate of 92 percent, with only Delaware students graduating at a higher rate.

*In a tie for second place with New Jersey with an American-Indian graduate rate of 87 percent. Only Tennessee has a higher rate.

*Number 2 for economically-disadvantaged students who graduate at a rate of 84 percent, behind only South Dakota.

Want to talk about something that's "never highlighted," Jillson? Talk about this.

More visuals and data and details here and here. To examine the NAEP data yourself, go here.

Maybe Professor Jillson was trying to make his case on something like per capita personal income or a convoluted misery/well-being index of some kind, I don't know. Again, it wasn't clear in the Statesman blog post. One thing to remember about income statistics is that you really have to consider cost of living and other factors; Texas usually ranks in the middle on per capita income but near the top for income growth and near the bottom in cost of living, which means the dollar goes a lot further in Texas than elsewhere. And in recent years, Texas (with just 8% of America's population) created about a third of the nation's new high paying jobs. Former Californian and current Texan Chuck DeVore already covered a lot of those angles and busted a lot of myths here.

Some other Texas exceptionalisms, for good measure, from my Twitter feed:

Oh, but Texas isn't exceptional in anything good. Right, guys?


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Texas Winning.

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Posted by Will Franklin · 16 September 2013 02:57 PM


Funny cost of living story:
A girlfriend came to Austin to visit. She'd lived in Virginia, Manhattan, London (where we met), and now lives in New Jersey. I took her to Central Market to show off the cool supermarket meets open air store. We hardly made it past produce. She took a pic of the grape sign 10 feet in the door, yelling, "Oh my gosh, they're giving grapes away!"

Posted by: AHLondon at September 16, 2013 05:07 PM