All is sunny and bright in Rick Perry Land. Just ask him. But the real Texas has some real problems, including a serious dropout rate – one of the worst in the country – that continues to plague our public schools, despite the best efforts of educators to turn it around.
Democratic gubernatorial nominee Bill White pointed out that problem in an address in Austin over the weekend and, as reported by the Austin AmericanStatesman, called for some “realism and honesty” on the part of state leaders.
In Perry Land, meanwhile, the incumbent governor was giving a group of middle school math students some welldeserved congratulations for their accomplishments, while patting himself on the back for imposing “increased accountability” on the school kids and their teachers.
But Perry continued to ignore the dropout problem –even though a recent study by the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M has projected that the dropout rate for the class of 2012, this year’s high school sophomores, could be as high as 22 percent. The negative implications for the state’s future economy and social services are enormous.
Perry instead accused White of trying to “tear down” Texas, when, in truth, the only candidate for governor who is “tearing down” Texas right now is Rick Perry, and he has been doing that by neglect for most of his nineplus years in office.
Perry’s education legacy, in addition to high dropout rates, includes:
• An annual, $4.6 billion structural shortage in funding for the public schools.
• Perpupil expenditures on instruction that are below the national average.
• Teacher pay that is below the national average.
• Inadequate resources for bilingual education in a state where Hispanics will soon be the majority.
• An overreliance on highstress standardized testing that destroys the learning environment.
• A political alliance with a Rabid Right bloc of State Board of Education members intent on driving the public schools back into the Middle Ages.
Yet, the governor persists in preaching “accountability” at everybody but himself.
Bill White is not “tearing down” Texas. He is pointing out critical problems that need to be fixed in Austin so that future generations of Texans will have a chance to have something to brag about.