School Again or How’s the Texas Education Plan Working?

Today is the first day of school in my neck of the woods.  Those ponderous yellow buses are plying the streets this AM snatching up clusters of students wearing their best first-day school outfits. Nine months from now the scene will be reversed and those yellow buses will spit out these same students.  The question to be raised is: how much did they learn in the interim?

I was prompted to check out some state statistics on education by a recent comment on this blog about right-wingers questioning science. Yes, that one again. Rick Perry and evolution and climate change come to mind. Michele Bachmann and her evangelical followers too. Neither ‘like’ science. Both denigrate it at every opportunity. Naturally, they are playing to their base- that group of hard-right ideologues who will determine the candidate representing the GOP.

So, what does this group have against science? I could suggest that maybe it was because they did poorly in it in school, but that would be only an assumption on my part. What I do think is that there are two reasons for the disdain of science over in the hard-right section of the political spectrum.  First, corporate loyalty. You know, pollution, the environment, government regulations [EPA], global climate change- stuff like that. They, as cheerleaders for the corporate world, deny the findings of the scientific community- especially in climate change- because…well, because they are cheerleaders for the corporate world.

The second group denigrates the science community because of their Bible beliefs. The fundamentalists don’t like science because it often ‘interferes’ with what the Bible states. Evolution mostly, but creation too. The discoveries in science, especially in astrophysics, are exploding, to use a pun. The Big Bang with the suggestion that a Deity had nothing to do with creation is not abided in the world of fundamentalism.  After all, the Bible says…

So, science gets two black eyes. Or four because many on the hard-right are both corporate cheerleaders and fundamentalists.

Rick Perry, the current ‘shining star’ on the right,  often touts the ‘Texas miracle.’  If only the entire United States were like Texas, eh? Wait! Is he now not wishing to secede from the Union? Confusing.

I thought I’d check out whether that Texas miracle extends to education. One might question just how smart the citizens of Texas are in that they elected and reelected Perry. Further, there was quite the dust-up a few years ago over the membership of the Texas Board of Education. It was reported last year that 7 of the 15 were ‘hardcore Evangelical fundamentalist creationists.’ Not only did this Board mess with the Texas science curriculum but also the social studies curriculum- revisionist history for all of the children of Texas. You can read and weep HERE.

In the yearly ranking of U.S. Universities by U.S. News & World Report, the top Texas school landed in position #17, Rice. The next Texas school on the list was #45, University of Texas–Austin. Next was #56, Southern Methodist.

On the website,, the state of Texas had these listed weaknesses in education:

  • Only a fair percentage of high school students enroll in upper-level science courses, despite substantial improvement on this measure over the past 12 years.
  • Eighth graders perform very poorly on national assessments in science.
  • Only a fair percentage of low-income 8th graders perform well on national assessments in math, even though this percentage has more than doubled over the past nine years.
  • Fairly small proportions of 11th and 12th graders take and score well on Advanced Placement tests, but this percentage has more than tripled over the past 12 years.
  • Very small proportions of 11th and 12th graders take and perform well on college entrance exams.
  • Only a fair percentage of secondary students are taught by teachers with an undergraduate or graduate major in the subject they are teaching.

Perhaps the most interesting statistic about the state of Texas is this: About 22% of adults do not have a high school diploma or its equivalent (compared with 14% of adults nationwide), reducing their likelihood of participating or succeeding in higher education.

One out of four Texans did not graduate high school. There’s the Texas miracle. Enough said.  Apparently the yellow high school buses are quite empty.  Not many getting on. Miracles indeed.  Well, at least there are lots of miracles in the fundamentalist churches in Texas.


11 thoughts on “School Again or How’s the Texas Education Plan Working?

  1. I remember the story of a certain type people using the “backdoor” to push their agenda. At the time, people thought “big deal” about who got elected to the state school board. I mean how much authority can a school board have? So what’s the harm is some radicals get elected; it will keep them out of real government offices.

    Well, the newly elected people were not given enough credit for their foresight.
    Seems Texas is big enough to have their school books (history, science and even math) printed to the exact specifications of their state school board. OK, so it stays in Texas (we think they’re all radical wingnuts anyway). Seems there’s a whole bunch of smaller states who don’t have the pull of Texas and use the books printed for Texas. I’ve heard numbers as high as 17 other states, maybe more. Now you’re talking about a bunch of kids using books that even their own parents would not let them read if they weren’t school books. But hey, they can’t be wrong, they’re school issued text books!

    And if you think this doesn’t affect Ohio, think again. When’s the last time you talked about subjects taught with an actual teacher? Try it, you’ll be surprised (and not in a good way).

    P.S. Yes, I know my spelling and/or grammar is bad sometimes, but this blog editor gives me trouble when I’m in a hurry. Sorry, I really am educated (in Ohio public schools no less).

  2. Yes, it affects Ohio and the rest of the nation because Texas’s curriculum drives the textbook companies. Luckily, Ohio does not have the same curriculum as Texas so the books do not match, thank goodness.

    Odd place, Texas. Never been there, hope to continue that record.

    Don’t worry about spelling or grammar- it’s your ideas that matter here.

    STATE NAME Need-Based Financial Aid
    Ohio (2006) 29%
    Texas (2006) 34%

    The raw scores show the state’s performance on the indicators.

    STATE NAME Grade
    Ohio (2006) B
    Texas (2006) C+

    The raw scores show the state’s performance on the indicators.

    STATE NAME Adults with Bachelor’s Degree or Higher
    Ohio (2006) 26%
    Texas (2006) 26%

    The raw scores show the state’s performance on the indicators.

  4. These are taken from the same site you used in your post, M_R (A number of other indicators did not copy, so will have to try to get those back). However,
    these results seem to indicate that Texas is not all that retarded compared to my home state of Ohio. Perhaps, the stat that is significant here is the last, which shows that the Ohio and Texas higher education system is on a par..
    BOTH States have exactly the same percentage of adults with a bachelor’s
    degree and higher, 26%.

    Another point is that your Post includes Rice and SMU in the same
    category as UT-Austin. Just need to point out that Rice and SMU are
    private universities and not under the State system of higher education.

    The last point is the percentage of students receiving financial aid.
    Ohio, with its longer history of public education, is only slightly better
    that Texas, 29 to 34 percent, respectively. It seems to me that we need
    to keep in mind that Ohio is a staid community so to speak as compared
    to Texas. Specifically, Texas has a large newly arrived minority
    population to educate, the Hispanic, primarily Mexican. These tens of
    thousands children are educationally disadvantaged because of a lack
    of family tradition of education, a lack of income, inadequate housing,
    inadequate required classroom materials, clothing, healthy nutrition,
    money for field trips, internet access, transportation, etc etc.
    Given these and more handicapps, my friend, perhaps Texas is not
    doing that badly, only 5% behind Ohio. As you may recall, we visited our
    two grandchildrens public school in Arlington, Texas. We were amazed at what the children are experiencing. This is a public school in a lower middle-
    class area. The school is modern and clean, grades pre-k thru 5. We
    observed two lunch periods and two classroom sessions for each of the two
    children. We were amazed to see all the children’s work displayed on the
    halls, in english and in spanish, everywhere. Each class had twenty children,
    with either a bi-lingual teacher or an aide of the opposite language. Tell me
    that is what we would see at DeVaux in every classroom! Lunch is just not
    a normal lunch. The children, those that want to, are encouraged to come
    up to the stage and “perfrom”. Let’s remember these are first thru fifth graders. The other children continue to eat, talk, and watch when something
    gets their attention. Then, as they clean their tables, they vote by their
    applause for the performance they liked. And, all the time, this is going on
    in english and spanish! The children are involved and excited. After
    their lunches we followed each child back to their classroom. Their teacher
    had them show us where there work was posted on the hall walls. Oh, one other point, the children are taught in english and spanish and the spanish speaking children practice in enlish and the english speaking children practice in english. Bi-lingualism is encouraged! There are no rows of desks in this
    school, it is like broken up into various stations, with the teacher and aide moving from station to station. Compared to my private elementary education
    in Toledo, my grandchildren are learning to THINK! They are doing their own work, yet at the same time interacting with the others, and the teacher is
    “orchastrating” this learning process. And, they are doing this all in a multi-
    cultural framework, compared to our segregated education, M_R. My fifth graders class of 20, had 10 hispanic, 4 black, and 4 white. I am no trained
    educationist, M_R. We plan to go back in early October, around the 9th.
    How about meeting us and you can have some first hand experiences of
    education in Texas? BTW, the name of the school is Barbara Bush Elementary!


    Students Taking Math Courses 9-12:
    OH – 60%
    TX – 64%

    Students Taking Science Courses 9-12:
    OH 28%
    TX 31%

    Students Taking 12th Grade Math:
    OH 28%
    TX 31%

    Teachers With Major in Subject:
    OH 61%
    TX 58%

    Texas leads Ohio in these categories. Only 28% in high school
    science for Ohio. It seems to me, M_R, progress is needed in
    both States. Wonder what the Texas percentages would be if Texas
    was not have to mainstream thousands of under-educated children of
    illegal parentage?

  6. May I alter a few words, UptheFLag, from your statement?

    Wonder what the Ohio percentages would be if Ohio
    was not have to mainstream thousands of under-educated children of
    the inner city?

  7. An inner city in Toledo? Oh, pray tell,how can that be? After all, you have
    the benefit of a not to be questioned Congresswoman that has made Toledo
    her personal fiefdom for 23 years.

    Btw, M_R, what was the unemployment rate in Toledo in 1983 and what is in
    August, 2011?

  8. Well, M_R, I have waited all day for you to respond on the percentage of
    Ohio students enrolled in science courses as compared to Texas. 28% of those Perry free Ohio students take high school science. And, what is it
    in Perry led Texas? 31%.

    And, tell us, M_R, how many schools in the TPS have mandatory bi-lingual
    education? Or in Perrysburg, or Monclova, or Sylvania, or Ottawa Hills,
    or Maumee, or Washington Township, or Genoa, or Holland, or Anthony
    Wayne, or Toledo Catholic schools,or maybe Maumee Country Day \
    I have no love for Gov. Perry. He would be a disaster for the United
    States for all the reasons you and others have presented. However, there
    are good learning experiences in Texas as there are in Ohio.
    Moreover, your response is so shallow that all you can give as a
    rejoinder is the Ohio inner cities. Compared to Texas that is almost
    laughable. Does Ohio have an international border where thousands of
    illegal immigrants enter the State as Texas does? Ohio’s inner cities
    have been there for decades coming with the the Irish immigrations of the
    late 19th century and the black immigrations from the South in the 1920s
    and 1930s. Both States and indeed the rest have not handled any of these
    problems very well. It seems to me that we have a national problem when we
    look how United States education compares to the rest of the world, and we
    need to forget about state education and focus on national education. We
    have a 21st population being educated with 17th century structure and
    organization. Perry and all contenders ought to be asked what their education
    plan is, state or national? Not to argue which State is better. I mean, M_R,
    the statistics that we have in these comments shows that there isn’t really
    a “dimes worth of difference”, lol, between Ohio and Texas. Indeed, my
    friend, if a blended population is the future of our citizens, Texas may be
    considerablly ahead of Ohio in melting the pot of whites, blacks, and browns.

    1. Not a ‘dimes worth’ of difference, my friend??? At least we don’t teach creationism in science here in Ohio, except in Christian schools. And our history curriculum is not encumbered by ‘special’ topics by certain political groups. B/C+ seems to be a difference.

  9. Of course, it is a “difference”, but it’s “a dimes worth of difference.” You seem
    to have blinders on and have your eyes closed to the national picture. You seem to be taking the position that everything in the South, in the case Texas,
    is bad and politicallly oriented to the right. Texas has problems; Ohio has
    problems. Did Congresswoman vote for “NO Child Left-Behind”? Did she
    vote for The Gramham Bill ending Glass-Steagell? Did she vote for the Obama Stimulus bill 2009?

  10. Just researched the following chart, current 2011:

    SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2011). The Condition of Education 2011 (NCES 2011-033), Indicator 20.

    Status dropout rates of 16- through 24-year-olds in the population, by race/ethnicity: Selected years, 1980-2009
    Year Total1 Race/ethnicity
    White Black Hispanic Asian/Pacific Islander American Indian/Alaska Native
    1980 14.1 11.4 19.1 35.2 — —
    1985 12.6 10.4 15.2 27.6 — —
    1990 12.1 9.0 13.2 32.4 4.9! 16.4!
    1995 12.0 8.6 12.1 30.0 3.9 13.4!
    1998 11.8 7.7 13.8 29.5 4.1 11.8
    1999 11.2 7.3 12.6 28.6 4.3 ‡
    2000 10.9 6.9 13.1 27.8 3.8 14.0
    2001 10.7 7.3 10.9 27.0 3.6 13.1
    2002 10.5 6.5 11.3 25.7 3.9 16.8
    2003 9.9 6.3 10.9 23.5 3.9 15.0
    2004 10.3 6.8 11.8 23.8 3.6 17.0
    2005 9.4 6.0 10.4 22.4 2.9 14.0
    2006 9.3 5.8 10.7 22.1 3.6 14.7
    2007 8.7 5.3 8.4 21.4 6.1 19.3
    2008 8.0 4.8 9.9 18.3 4.4 14.6
    2009 8.1 5.2 9.3 17.6 3.4 13.2

    — Not available.
    ! Interpret data with caution.The standard error of the estimate is equal to 30 percent or more of the estimate’s value.
    ‡ Reporting standards not met (too few cases).
    You will notice that the drop out rate for Blacks and Whites narrowed in
    the 1980s and then became stagnant from 1990-2009.
    Also of interest is the drop out rate of Whites and Hispanics which
    shows a narrowing in the period 2000-2009.

    The chart shows that we have a national problem and not just a state
    Sorry, the tables didn’t come thru in a clearer format. Therefore, the first
    column is a total column for all races of that year. The next column is for
    Whites, the second for Blacks, the third for Hispanics, etc.

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