Bush v. Gore: Annotated bibliography
This is a confusing race. There are good arguments on each side. And when we
look at people we respect, we find them evenly divided in their support. And
certainly the candidates themselves often sound the same a number of the
issues… Both now say they are for reduced government, a strong military, the
environment, and so on. If you go to CNN and check
out their views on the issues, it sure seems confusing. And the list on CNN
is far from being comprehensive.
I take my constitutional right to vote very seriously. For
me, that meant spending hundreds of hours doing research. reading news articles, searching the
Internet, watching all the debates, and meeting one-on-one with each major
I spent many hours going through my research process.
I take my constitutional right to vote very seriously. For
me, that meant spending hundreds of hours reading news articles, searching the
Internet, watching all the debates, and meeting one-on-one with each major
candidate. I’ve been to Austin, Texas recently. I’ve been to both Republican
and Democratic websites. And for every story I read on one site, I search the
other site for the opposing view. When I couldn’t find supporting data, I
e-mailed or phoned into backdoor contacts at each campaign. Key articles from my
research are included below but there is much more that you can’t see that I
haven’t had time to post.
I also spent time talking with the prominent supporters of
each candidate including people such as Colin Powell, Michael Dell, John Doerr,
and Eric Schmidt. These are all people who I greatly admire and respect for
their accomplishments as well as for their thought process. Yet they are split
on which candidate would make a better President.
I’ve also talked with my friends and business associates.
Again, some people support Bush, others Gore. And I listened carefully to their
This web page contains only some of the articles I read and
considered in forming opinions about the candidates because I decided to create
this page very recently to help others view the facts.
Says Bush's Texas 'Miracle' Looks Like Myth
Date: October 24, 2000
Source: Reuters (By Thomas Ferraro)
Comment: This is the Reuters story announcing the new RAND
Texas education ``miracle,'' hailed by Republican presidential nominee
George W. Bush as proof of his power in the classroom, may well be a myth,
according to a study to be released on Tuesday. The study by the nonprofit
RAND Corp., a private think tank, found that dramatic increases in tests
administered by Texas on its students are not reflected in national exams of
the same youngsters.
Fabiani, a deputy campaign manager for Democratic presidential nominee Al
Gore, jumped on the RAND study, saying, ''The very foundation of the Bush
campaign just crumbled.'' ``This RAND report reveals 'serious questions'
about Mr. Bush's repeated claims that his education reforms have worked,''
offered hypotheses for the ''stark differences'' in results on the Texas and
by teachers (who are awarded for student achievement)
exam doesn’t change much from year to year
exam is “not particularly tough”
think 'the Texas miracle' is a myth,'' said Stephen Klein, a senior
RAND researcher who helped lead the study… ``There is nothing
remarkable in Texas education,'' …
Texas governor since 1995, has cited big increases in state test scores as
evidence he has turned around his schools and can upgrade the nation's
In fact, the RAND organization issued an earlier report on
education in Texas that has been touted by the Republicans! So clearly the
RAND organization is viewed as a very credible source by the Republicans.
This new RAND report confirms another independent study done by Boston College
Professor Walt Haney which appears next.
Title: The Myth
of the Texas Miracle in Education
Source: This article appeared in the peer-reviewed Education Policy Analysis
Archives (EPAA) by Boston College Professor Walt Haney. Haney is a professor in
the Department of Counseling Psychology, Developmental Psychology and Research
Methods, in Boston College's School of Education and also Senior Research
Associate in BC's Center for the Study of Testing, Evaluation and Educational
Date: August 19, 2000
convergence of evidence indicates that during the 1990s, slightly less
than 70% of students in Texas actually graduated from high school.
50% of minority students in Texas have been progressing from grade 9 to high
school graduation since the initiation of the TAAS testing program.
1994 and 1997, … TASP (a 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).
measured by performance on the SAT, the academic learning of secondary
school students in Texas has not improved since the early 1990s,
compared with SAT takers nationally.
scores have deteriorated relative to students nationally.
passing scores on TAAS tests were arbitrary and discriminatory. Analyses
comparing TAAS reading, writing and math scores with one another and with
relevant high school grades raise doubts about the reliability and
validity of TAAS scores.
discuss problems of missing students and other mirages in Texas
enrollment statistics that profoundly affect both reported dropout
statistics and test scores.
gains on TAAS and the unbelievable decreases in dropouts during the 1990s are
more illusory than real. The Texas "miracle" is more hat than
know what you did in Texas"(video) (transcript)
Date: October 23, 2000
Source: Democratic National Committee
have teachers [in Austin, Texas] that are very stressed. They're overworked
and they're underpaid and we lose our best and our brightest because
of these reasons.
we know is that, that the number of teachers who leave in the first five
years of their employment in teaching approaches nearly fifty percent.
Bush decided to allocate half of the money that we had asked for to a tax
decrease for some of the wealthiest people in our state. We teachers in
Texas only wanted to make as much as some of our other peers in other
states, to bring our salary up to that average.
the start of every school year, school begins with literally hundreds of
classrooms without teachers
Bush has appointed a teacher certification board that, instead of
working on improving uh the standards for the teaching profession and
improving teacher quality, has decided instead to allow people who have
poor credentials to enter into the teaching profession
in five Texas high school teachers are not certified – Dallas Morning
percent of Texas students do not complete high school and obtain a high
school diploma. That is a figure that is astronomical. That is basically
brushed under the rug.
Bush has ignored a lot of our children in Texas. They still come to school
hungry every day, uh they have very poor health. Many of their parents can't
afford to give them the medical attention they need. As a teacher in a
classroom you can imagine the challenges that we face when you're trying to
teach a child that's hungry. When you try to teach a child that's sick. I
think that if Governor Bush was committed to all our children, that he would
ensure that those needs were being met
record hard to grade
Date: September 3, 2000
Source: Sacramento Bee
who has pronounced education his top priority…
Bush hasn't done any harm… but if you really look at why (Wharton) has
been able to stay ahead of the curve, it has more to do with things we're
doing right here in the neighborhood and because of policies that began
before (Bush) took office (in 1994).
I call George W. Bush our education governor? No," Sandoval said.
"Mark White was our education governor," referring to the Democrat
who held the office in the early 1980s.
the Bush campaign, acutely aware that education is a bell-ringer
issue for a great swath of Americans, has bragged that the
"remarkable success" of various Texas reforms is evidence of his
Bush … education is clearly a topic in which he is genuinely confident and
well-versed. "There is no question that education is a true passion for
him," says … a former member of the state Board of Education.
plainly deserves credit for boosting education spending and for using his
gubernatorial bully pulpit to champion higher school standards.
there also is merit to the argument presented by Sandoval and others that some
of the successes he cites were enacted under previous governors. It is
also clear that some of the more recent measures of which he is the
architect are so new that their success cannot be weighed.
also lacks a definitive track record in his home state on two of his most
significant national policy proposals: charter schools and vouchers.
tried and failed to win passage of a state voucher program, raising
questions about how he would persuade Congress to adopt a national version
of his proposal to divert some public funds toward private schools. Bush did
win approval for charter schools in Texas, but the program has been beset
with funding problems, and experts agree that the record is mixed. The
governor himself has acknowledged that "the verdict is still out"
on the state's charter schools.
Bush's defenders contend that such criticisms are mere quibbles. Like Bush,
they point with considerable pride to rising performance on state and
national tests, especially by minority students -- hence his battle cry of
"leaving no child behind." [The RAND study just released shows that Bush and his
defender’s were misinformed. The Boston College study shows 50% minority
drop out rate.]
a major policy address to a Latino business group in Los Angeles, Bush noted
that the "number of minority children passing our state skills test had
jumped from 38 percent to 69 percent" since 1994. [The RAND study
just released shows Bush was misinformed. There were no real gains.]
observers of Texas education point out two primary holes in Bush's attempts
to claim credit for that improvement in student achievement. The first is
that the seeds for that improvement were planted as early as 1984 …
Those steps and others like them -- germinating for some 15 years now --
have greatly affected Texas student performance. "There's something
real that happened there, but it's the product of long-sustained reform
effort," Orfield says. "If any credit is due, it's to a long
succession of governors."
recent study by the Center for the Study of Testing at Boston College
suggests another factor in the state's rising scores. The study argues
that the scores may be misleading because so many students who likely would
fail the test are dropping out before they take it. The report says
Texas has an overall dropout rate of 20 percent and that the rate runs as
high as 50 percent among minorities. Texas officials say the overall
dropout rate is 15 percent.
is this myth of the miracle of Texas education," says Boston College
professor Walter Haney, the study's author. "In my view, it is
largely a scam. The test scores have been going up because they have been
pushing huge numbers of kids out."
Democratic Party Chairwoman Molly Beth Malcolm says Bush "seems good
about finding a parade and leading the way. He does have an interest in
education, but the Legislature sets the agenda."
at Wharton Elementary, Sandoval … says her school's success is mostly due
to a talented, veteran faculty that she has worked hard to
Texas Education Commissioner talks scores, salaries
The Legislature also must consider improving teacher pay
and benefits, Nelson said. Teachers earn an average $35,178 annually in Texas,
according to the Texas State Teachers Association.
"We've got to do a better job of retaining teachers -- too many leave
after three years," Nelson said. "There clearly is a shortage. ...
If we don't watch out, that is going to be a handicap."
Teacher retention should be Nelson's top priority, said Larry Shaw, executive
director of the United Educators Association, which has 9,000 members in
About 41,000 of 63,000 vacancies in Texas public schools were unfilled last
year, he said.
"Until they face that, they don't have any right to talk about quality or
quantity or anything else," Shaw said. "There are just no teachers.
There are no teachers anywhere."
Working conditions in the classroom also must improve, he said.
"They're going to have to look at discipline levels in the
classroom," Shaw said. "They're going to have to look at salary and
benefits in a tremendous way."
Having the nation's attention on Texas classrooms should be helpful, Shaw
"I can't see where that can do anything but help, because it's not a
pretty picture for teachers in our schools," he said
George W. Bush for President Official Site News Release:
“Texas Review Society, Analysis of Texas Education Record Published,”
News Release, 10/25/00
Cites article by Jay Greene to refute RAND study:
Today, the Texas Review Society, a nonprofit, nonpartisan
educational organization, released the second issue of the Texas Education
Review, an academic journal edited by the nation’s leading education
experts. The issue features a scholarly analysis demonstrating that test
scores have risen the past six years in Texas. The analysis, written by
Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow Jay Greene, refutes critics who have
maintained that recent improvements in Texas are a mirage. The article
can be viewed at www.texaseducationreview.com.
Education Miracle No Mirage
The bottom line is that one doesn't have to believe TAAS or officially
reported dropout rates to be convinced that students in Texas are learning
more and staying in school longer. The NAEP results provide us with
independent confirmation that student achievement in Texas has increased
significantly during the 1990s. And independent calculations of dropout
rates show that more students are graduating high school. Given the lack of
significant gains nationally during the 1990s, or even since the 1970s, the
Texas education record is truly remarkable.
What accounts for the Texas education miracle? Most of the reforms touted by
teacher unions and their fellow travelers are unlikely explanations for
increased student achievement in Texas during the 1990s. Reducing class size
does not appear to explain the gains either. The average number of students
per teacher in Texas only declined slightly between 1993 and 1998 from 15.9
to 15.2. Increasing per pupil spending does not appear to explain the gains.
Per pupil spending adjusting for inflation only increased from $5,420 in
1993 to $5,655 in 1998. Increasing teacher qualifications does not appear to
explain the gains. The percentage of teachers with a masters or doctorate
degree actually declined between 1993 and 1998 from 29% to 25%. Increasing
the number of experienced teachers does not appear to explain the gain. The
percentage of teachers with less than 6 years of experience actually
increased in Texas from 32% to 34% between 1993 and 1998. Nor is a change in
student demographics in Texas, the teacher unions' favorite excuse for
student performance, a likely explanation given that average student
characteristics have changed little in Texas during the 1990s.
The most obvious explanation for the significant increase in student
achievement in Texas is TAAS, a comprehensive system of measuring student
achievement and holding students and schools accountable for the results.
While I have no hard evidence to prove the mechanism by which this
accountability system has increased student achievement, interviews with
teachers, students, and parents give me an idea of what has been happening.
In many public school classrooms, especially in central cities, little
teaching actually occurs. Teachers and students make an implicit and often
unconscious bargain. Teachers agree not to make students work, and students
agree not to harass the teacher. Teachers develop or embrace various silly
"progressive" teaching philosophies and practices that help them
justify to themselves and others their lack of actual teaching. For example,
some teachers believe that students learn better if they form groups and
teach each other rather than the having the teacher teach. Some teachers
shun competition or testing for fear of damaging student self-confidence.
Some teachers reject teaching students to memorize their math tables or
basic sums, dismissing those techniques as deadening "drill and
kill." Some teachers reject teaching their students to read words
phonetically, reject teaching their students grammar, and reject teaching
their students to develop linear arguments. In short, silly ideas about what
constitutes progressive education help incompetent teachers justify and mask
the absence of serious teaching common in too many schools, especially in
I suspect that the main benefit of an accountability test, like TAAS, is
that it simply forces teachers to teach. The test may not be very hard. It
may not be well designed. It may crowd-out other legitimate school
activities. It may impose a one-size-fits-none approach on all students,
stifling the variety of approaches that may better serve students who learn
in different ways. There are many good reasons not to like accountability
tests, like TAAS. But the one good thing that these tests certainly seem to
do is force teachers to teach their students how to read, write, and do
arithmetic. In light of our shocking inability to convey these basic skills
in schools, it may be worth stomaching the negative side effects of a
comprehensive accountability system just to accomplish these fundamental
purposes of education. Accountability tests, like TAAS, are crude but
amazingly effective at compelling schools to teach students basic skills.
Of course, an accountability test only works if it actually forces the
schools to teach. TAAS was able to do this successfully in Texas only
because teacher unions were weak and senior government officials were
determined to keep up the pressure. If the unions were stronger, they could
have thwarted, co-opted, or manipulated the testing system so that they were
never actually held accountable for teaching their students basic skills.
And if senior government officials had been weaker in their determination to
hold schools and teachers accountable, they would have yielded to the
disorganized resistance that educators in Texas did offer.
The ability to reproduce the Texas education miracle in other states is
Wall St Journal, Oct 27, 2000
Mr. Klein claims that the Texas schools teach directly to the state test to
ensure high outcomes.
- In any event, Texas is still a leader based on its NAEP scores alone.
Indeed, David Grissmer, lead author of the earlier Rand study, has taken
issue with Mr. Klein's results. "I continue to support our conclusions
that Texas NAEP score increases were among the highest across the
- Time for recess. Let's talk politics again. As everyone knows, among
Governor Bush's strong suits is his call for giving parents a
"choice" of schools if their public school fails. In standard
parlance, this is "school choice" or just "choice," an
idea that is anathema to the teachers unions supporting Mr. Gore.
- But here's Al Gore in Tennessee Wednesday, as noted under the headline
"In His Own Words," in the New York Times: "To me, education
is all about raising standards and expanding choices." And:
"Providing choices so parents can help their children." Hmm.
Sounds to us like the Vice President lifted this from somewhere. We're
giving this education speech a D and instructing Mr. Gore to throw three
more Hail Marys.
The Real Improvement in Texas Schools
The new RAND report
Scores on achievement tests are increasingly being used to make decisions
that have important consequences for examinees and others. Some of these
"high-stakes" decisions are for individual students--such as for
tracking, promotion, and graduation (Heubert & Hauser, 1999). Some states
and school districts also are using test scores to make performance appraisal
decisions for teachers and principals (e.g., merit pay and bonuses) and to
hold schools and educational programs accountable for the success of their
students (Linn, 2000). Although the policymakers who design and implement
such systems often believe they lead to improved instruction, there is a
growing body of evidence which indicates that high-stakes testing programs can
also result in narrowing the curriculum and distorting scores (Koretz
& Barron, 1998; Koretz et al., 1991; Linn, 2000; Linn, Graue, &
Sanders, 1990; Stecher, Barron, Kaganoff, & Goodwin, 1998). Consequently,
questions are being raised about the appropriateness of using test scores
alone for making high-stakes decisions (Heubert & Hauser, 1999).
The unprecedented score gains on the TAAS have been referred to as the
"Texas miracle." However, some educators and analysts (e.g., Haney,
2000) have raised questions about the validity of these gains and the possible
negative consequences of high-stakes accountability systems, particularly for
low-income and minority students. For example, the media have reported
concerns about excessive teaching to the test, and there is some empirical
support for these criticisms (Carnoy, Loeb, & Smith, 2000; McNeil &
Valenzuela, 2000; Hoffman et al., in press). For instance, teachers in Texas
say they are spending especially large amounts of class time on test
preparation activities. Because the length of the school day is fixed, the
more time that is spent on preparing students to do well on the TAAS often
means there is less time to devote to other subjects.
Evidence regarding the validity of score gains on the TAAS can be obtained
by investigating the degree to which these gains are also present on other
measures of these same general skills. Specifically, do the score trends on
the TAAS correspond to those on the highly regarded NAEP? The NAEP tests are
generally recognized as the "gold standard" for such comparisons
because of the technical quality of the procedures that are used to develop,
administer, and score these exams. Of course, NAEP is not a perfect measure.
For example, there are no stakes attached to NAEP scores, and therefore
student motivation may differ on NAEP and state tests, such as TAAS. However,
it is currently the best indicator available.
The July RAND Report: Improving Student Achievement
Author: David W. Grissmer, Ann Flanagan, Jennifer Kawata, Stephanie
Date: July 25, 2000
Excerpts from the press
- The study is based on an analysis of National Assessment of Educational
Progress (NAEP) tests given between 1990 and 1996.
- Even more dramatic contrasts emerge in the study's pathbreaking,
cross-state comparison of achievement by students from similar families.
Texas heads the class in this ranking with California dead last. Wisconsin,
Montana, Iowa, Maine, North Dakota, Indiana and New Jersey cluster closely
behind Texas. Louisiana, Mississippi, West Virginia, Alabama and Rhode
Island perform almost as dismally as California.
- Although the two states are close demographic cousins, Texas students, on
average, scored 11 percentile points higher on NAEP math and reading tests
than their California counterparts. In fact, the Texans performed well with
respect to most states. On the 4th-grade NAEP math tests in 1996, Texas
non-Hispanic white students and black students ranked first compared to
their counterparts in other states, while Hispanic students ranked fifth. On
the same test, California non-Hispanic white students ranked third from the
bottom, black students last, and Hispanic students fourth from the bottom
- Differences in state scores for students with similar families can be
explained, in part, by per pupil expenditures and how these funds are
allocated. States at the top of the heap generally have lower
pupil-teacher ratios in lower grades, higher participation in public
prekindergarten programs and a higher percentage of teachers who are
satisfied with the resources they are provided for teaching. These three
factors account for about two-thirds of the Texas-California differential. Teacher
turnover also has a statistically significant effect on achievement.
(California is now implementing class-size reduction and other reforms but
these steps began after the 1996 NAEP tests.)
- Having a higher percentage of teachers with master's degrees and extensive
teaching experience appears to have comparatively little effect on student
achievement across states. Higher salaries also showed little effect,
possibly reflecting the inefficiency of the current compensation system in
which pay raises reward both high- and low-quality teachers. However,
the report points out that salary differences may have more important
achievement effects within states than between states. Also, they may have
greater impact during periods when teachers are in shorter supply than
during the 1990-1996 measurement period.
Excerpts from the Conclusion:
- The major contributions to the
higher Texas scores are lower pupil-teacher ratio, a much larger percentage
of children in public pre-kindergarten, and teachers who report having more
of the resources necessary to teach.
- This explanation implies that providing more resources for public
education is not the answer to school improvement without fundamental
reforms that can change the organizational climate and incentives in
education. An underlying thesis is that the public school system is too
bureaucratic to reform itself and that it is necessary to create
alternatives outside the current system or increased choice within the
system to produce an environment of greater competition. Policies advocated
with this approach include vouchers, school choice, charter schools, and
contracting out of schools. Recent research has suggested three major
problems with this explanation.
- We suggest a competing explanation for the pattern of results in the
previous literature that is consistent with the results from the Ten-nessee
experiment, the pattern of national score gains and expendi-tures from 1970
through 1996, and the new results in this report. This explanation suggests
that measurements at the state level may provide the most-accurate results
among previous measurements and that less-aggregate measurements may be
- Our results also show that significant gains are occurring in math scores
across most states, with sizable gains in some states. The source of these
gains cannot be traced to resource changes, and the most likely explanation
would suggest that ongoing structural reform within public education might
be responsible. This reform suggests that well-designed standards linked to
assessments and some forms of accountability may change the incentives and
productivity within public schools and even introduce competition among
public schools. Thus, these results certainly challenge the traditional view
of public education as “unreformable.” Public education may be a unique
type of public institution in which competition and accountability work
because of the large number of separate units whose output can be
.Al Gore A lifetime of leadership for children and education
- The NEA has named Vice President Al Gore as its recommended candidate for
the 2000 presidential primary, lauding his lifetime of unwavering leadership
on behalf of children and public education. Following an extensive
interview process, the NEA-PAC Council at its Oct. 7 meeting voted
nearly unanimously to to give the nod to Gore. On Oct. 8, the NEA Board of
Directors unanimously concurred (with 16 abstentions).
- In announcing the NEA's recommendation, NEA President Bob Chase cited key
congressional victories Gore has clinched on the E-rate, full funding for
Head Start, expanded preschool and afterschool programs, and increased
access to higher education. He added that currently Gore is leading the
charge to reduce class size and modernize public schools.
Major Teachers Group Endorses Gore
The 2.5 million-member National Education Association on Tuesday endorsed Al
Gore for president, calling the Democratic hopeful a proven friend of children
and public education.
The NEA refers to itself as the largest U.S. professional employee
organization, representing 2.5 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher
education faculty, educational support personnel, school administrators, retired
educators, and students preparing to become teachers.
"Al Gore is a proven friend of children and public education, and he has
earned the support of our members," said NEA President Bob Chase.
"These delegates have spoken with a clear voice on behalf of NEA's ...
members, who elected them to attend this assembly."
Chase cited Gore's position on such issues as class-size reduction,
early-childhood education, increased college student aid, higher standards and
salaries for teachers, and school modernization.
He said Republican George W. Bush supports school vouchers while Gore does
not and said the Texas governor has opposed a federal government role in
determining class size and school modernization.
Bush campaign spokeswoman Mindy Tucker said the NEA's endorsement raised
"serious questions" about Gore's commitment to accountability in
schools because the group had dismissed such efforts as "absurd and
Scientists Now Acknowledge Role of Humans in Climate Change
Andrew Revkin, NY Times, Oct 26, 2000
Greenhouse gases produced mainly by the burning of fossil fuels are altering
the atmosphere in ways that affect earth's climate, and it is likely that they
have "contributed substantially to the observed warming over the last 50
years," an international panel of climate scientists has concluded. The
panel said temperatures could go higher than previously predicted if emissions
are not curtailed.
This represents a significant shift in tone — from couched to relatively
confident — for the panel of hundreds of scientists, the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change, which issued two previous assessments of the research
into global warming theory, in 1995 and 1990.
The key issues
Steve Kirsch Political Home Page