Texas Miracle or Myth? 
Was Bush Telling Us the Truth?  

By Steven T. Kirsch, Silicon Valley Philanthropist

The educational gains in Texas have been George W. Bush's major accomplishment as governor, right? That is why they are the cornerstone of Bush's campaign and why education appears prominently at the top of his Internet home page and campaign literature. On closer examination, however, no credible evidence could be found to support such claims.

Existing research consistently shows that nothing special has been happening in Texas. State exam results (TAAS), which were used as the primary basis for exaggerated performance gains, have been criticized in the press and shown to be untrustworthy by two independent research papers published in peer-reviewed journals [Haney, Klein].

If Bush can't deliver on his "top priority" issue,
how can we expect him to deliver on less important issues? 

The Bush campaign has pointed to a July 2000 RAND report [Grissmer] as proof of their claims of educational improvement. However, the July report looked at trends from 1990 to 1996 and failed to normalize for significant effects such as the implementation of high-stakes testing in Texas in 1994--before Bush took office. Therefore, it is not valid to compare scores before 1994 against scores after 1994. Had the RAND report confined its analysis to the period 1994 onwards, they would have found that Texas has shown no improvement relative to the rest of the country. In fact, in an October 2000 RAND paper, Klein [Klein] showed if we followed students in Texas public schools from 4th grade in 1994 to 8th grade in 1998, we would find that their improvement is slightly below the national average for each of the following ethnic groups: whites, African-Americans, and Hispanics. Klein also found that the achievement gap in Texas between whites and people of color widened, rather than narrowed as Bush has claimed.

These results are confirmed by other trusted sources. NAEP scores, SAT scores, and Texas state's own TASP scores all show that academic performance has not improved under Bush or has dramatically declined [Haney]. Only 50% of minority students in Texas have been progressing from grade 9 to high school graduation since Bush was elected in 1994 [stats]. Recent SAT scores ranked Texas in the bottom four of all 50 states. TASP (a Texas college readiness test) results showed a sharp decrease (from 65.2% to 43.3%) in the percentage of students passing all three parts (reading, math, and writing) [Haney]. The New York Times reported that in February 1999, officials with the University of Texas system presented a report to a Texas House subcommittee complaining of "marked declines in the number of students who are prepared academically for higher education." And there are many other, equally shocking, statistics.

I could find no trustworthy data to support Bush's exaggerated claims being made today that students' true academic proficiency dramatically improved on his watch. Every piece of trusted independent data shows the opposite. Despite many attempts, there has not been an explanation that has been proposed that explains how gains could be happening in Texas while every other independent trusted indicator has remained flat or declined. 

Bush is a man who sees things as he wants to see them, not as they really are.
He's ignored overwhelming scientific data on the academic progress in Texas.
He says he trusts us. But why should we trust him?

The only “miracle” that happened in Texas was that Bush has been able to get away with telling the story of massive and impossibly large improvements for so long without anyone questioning the real story. He has misled you, not on some small inconsequential issue, but on what, by his own admission, is the most important issue in America today. He says he believes in a government that is accountable to the people. Will you hold him accountable?

That choice is yours to make on November 7. 

Steve Kirsch
Silicon Valley Entrepreneur and Philanthropist
Help me educate people by e-mailing this URL with a personal note to all your friends ASAP!

What's the point? Both RAND reports agree with all the other independent data that: 

  • TAAS scores are untrustworthy
  • In education, which Bush says is the #1 priority in America today, Texas hasn't made any progress relative to the rest of the country (academic proficiency as measured by trusted exams SAT, ACT, NAEP scores) and declined in others (such as the achievement gap, Texas' own TASP scores, etc)
  • Bush continues to avoid confronting the truth about Texas education progress and continues to promote misleading or untrue statistics on his web site not on some small issue, but on what he considers the most important issue of the campaign
  • A lack of results and a lack of integrity.

George W. Bush... "A Reformer Without Results"...

Is Al Gore better than Bush? You decide. Comments? Pro-Gore or Pro-Bush

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