Team Perry Member/TEA Commissioner hypocritically calls out Sec Duncan for being political

Posted on August 22, 2011


The Dallas Morning News ran an editorial supporting Robert Scott in criticizing Secretary Duncan for being political and untruthful in his criticism of Texas education.

This is like the pot calling the kettle black. Commissioner Scott routinely plays politics at TEA , especially in the area of press releases and statements. Having lived in Texas from 1970 through 2011, I can say that Commissioner Scott has been the MOST politically driven Commissioner that I can remember.

Let’s look at an example:

Last year TEA had a press release that Texas had closed the achievement gap on the 4th grade math NAEP scores. When the study was released about the White-Hispanic gap INCREASING, TEA had no press release. The failure to report this study during the special session and while the Governor was contemplating a run for President was not politically motivated? I don’t think so.

UPDATE: TEA claims this was merely an oversight on their part. But it is the very first time I have seen them miss an important NAEP press release.

TEA has also suppressed the release of a number of studies that would have contradicted the Governor’s stance on some issues. These decisions were not politically motivated? Doubtful.

We also get the positive spin from Commissioner Scott–even when the research is sloppy or non-existent. When I criticized TEA’s study of Katrina children for a very, very poor selection of the samples used in the study, Commissioner Scott was so enraged that he called the President of UT to complain. That rolled downhill to the point that the Dean of the College of Education essentially instructed me to call TEA and explain myself. Every researcher I spoke with and even researchers within TEA supported my critique. So, pressuring UT was not politics in action?

Finally, in the Dallas Morning News, Commissioner Scott includes some bright spots about Texas education.

“– In 2009, Texas ranked 7th in a 26 state comparison of the only states reporting four-year on-time graduation rates. That year Texas’ on-time graduation rate was 80.6%. The Texas on-time graduation rate for 2010 is now 84.3%, an amazing 3.7 percentage point increase in a single year on the dropout indicator that you are now requiring all states to report to the Department.

— Texas is ranked 13th in Ed Week’s Quality Counts report. Quality Counts gave Texas an “A” in “Standards, Assessment and Accountability,” and an “A” in “Transitions and Alignment” of the Texas system with college and career readiness. This year’s graduating class is the first to graduate under Texas’ required 4×4 graduation requirements (four years of math, science, English language arts and social studies) and we are already seeing great things from the class of 2011.

— The Texas class of 2011 posted a record-high math score on the ACT college entrance exam. The Texas average math score was 21.5 and was higher than the national average of 21.1. ACT scores from 2007 to 2011 showed increases in all four subjects.

— The 2009 NAEP Science results were impressive, as well. Texas’ African American eighth-grade students earned the highest score in the nation and our Hispanic eighth-grade students were eighth. Only eighth-grade students attending the Department of Defense schools scored higher than Texas’ white students who were tied with white students in Massachusetts. On the fourth-grade test, Texas’ African American students out-performed their peers in every state except Virginia and those students attending Department of Defense Schools. Texas’ fourth-grade white students were ranked third behind only Virginia and Massachusetts.

— We are also a leader in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education. Texas has established 59 STEM schools, 7 STEM professional development centers and is a leading state in creating a national STEM network of states that want to pursue STEM education reform. Texas’ STEM reform began in 2005, long before your administration decided to model this and other aspects of your reform agenda on the efforts that have been taking place in Texas for nearly a decade.”

Yet, Commissioner Scott failed to mention a number of other facts:

–Texas was only one of two states to have an INCREASE in the White-Hispanic achievement gap on 4th math grade NAEP.

–the recent ACT scores showed a massive widening of the achievement gap between Whites/Asians and Blacks/Hispanics.

— under Rick Perry and Robert Scott’s leadership, we went from having the largest gains on the NAEP math test in 4th and 8th grade math during the 1990s to no gains at all by the end of the 2000s.

–Texas has not seen an increase in reading scores on the 4th grade NAEP test since 2002 (only small gains during the 1990s and the only reason there was a gain from 1998 to 2002 is that the 1998 scores dipped from previous years).

–Texas has never seen an increase in 8th grade NAEP reading scores.

–the percent of college ready Texas students as measured by the ACT is lower than the national average.

–Texas’ SAT scores are below the national average.

–Texas ranks DEAD LAST in the percent residents with a high school diploma.

–if STEM academies are having a positive effect, then why have our 8th grade NAEP math scores ground to a halt where we had no increase from 2007 to 2009?

–and another question for our Governor: If his policies have been so good for Texas families, why have we seen a MASSIVE increase in the percentage of poor kids in Texas schools?

And this is just off the top of my head.

Commissioner Scott–don’t be a hypocrite–every decision you make about press releases, statements, and policy decisions are POLITICAL decisions.


This post originally contained the following:

Recently, TEA released a press release noting a Texas A&M study of charter schools. The report had some very sloppy methodology that resulted in the finding that charter schools do not worse academically than other schools. Yet, TEA had no release on a TEA-funded study of charter schools by the Texas Center for Education Research that found charter schools have much lower student achievement.Not only did TEA not post a press release about the study, this study was completed in August of 2010.  I know–I am a board member of TCER. TEA could have released this study that had some quite negative findings about charter school achievement last fall or this spring. But that would have jeopardized the push for charter school funding and allowing charter school growth. So, that was not politically motivated?

UPDATE: I mistakenly attributed the press release to TEA. Instead, Texas A&M put out the press release. That was my error in not double-checking. Debbie Ratcliffe from TEA pointed this out.

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