Sep 22, 2003
George W. Bush pretends that the education of American children is his first priority. "No Child Left Behind" has been his slogan, the catch phrase for his federal education law. Bush claimed that he had turned the public school system around in Texas, where he was governor, and that he intended do the same for the whole country as president.
Bush appointed Rod Paige, the former superintendent of Houston schools, Secretary of Education. Paige seemed to be the perfect choice: when it came to reducing dropout rates, Houston led the pack among the school districts in Texas.
But this "Texas Miracle" has now turned into one big "Texas Scandal." Independent studies, like the one done by the Manhattan Institute, a conservative policy research group, have found that the dropout figures reported by Texas school districts were false. Districts were fudging the numbers by using different tricks, such as not counting dropouts who said they still hoped to earn a high school diploma, or calculating dropout rates from seventh grade, when practically no one leaves school. Houston schools, in particular, were undercounting their dropouts by as much as 55%. One Houston high school, for example, had a freshman class of 1000 that dwindled to 300 students by senior year – and yet this school reported not one dropout!
Texas authorities now say they will impose penalties on those in the Houston system who lied about their dropout rates. A recent article in the Village Voice asked: Will the President dock Paige's pay?
Yes, will he? And what about George W. himself – the man who told the biggest lie when he said education is his first priority?