Dallas Morning News: Duncan flat-out lied about Texas education

posted at 2:00 pm on August 21, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Time Magazine’s Andrew Rotherham professed to being “confused” over Arne Duncan’s attack on the performance of Texas schools — and his ignorance over the performance of the Chicago school district Duncan actually ran.  The Dallas Morning News’ editorial writer Rodger Jones isn’t confused at all.  He’s irate.  In a column that appeared in yesterday’s newspaper, Jones prints the response to Duncan from Robert Scott, Texas’ education chief, but not before getting in a few shots himself at Duncan’s “lies”:

Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s insult to Texas public education was a politically motivated distortion that doesn’t become a federal official in his position.

What a load this guy is.

We shouldn’t hear lies come out of the mouth of the nation’s top education official (photo at right) when he discusses the record of millions of students and dedicated educators.

What lies?  Well, Duncan told a whopper about Texas class sizes, for one, a rather shabby and easily checkable lie at that:

The tipoff that Duncan doesn’t care about facts was his statement about “massive increases in class size in Texas” during Rick Perry’s time in the governor’s office. …

I checked TEA records on statewide class size averages. Primary grades held steady, of course, while most secondary class averages went down during the Perry years.

Examples: Secondary math classes averaged 20.3 students in 2000-01 and dropped to 18.5 by last year. Average size of secondary English/language arts classes fell from 20.2 students in 2000-01 to 17.8 by last year.

Anybody could look this stuff up. It’s right there on the TEA website. Duncan surely has a few thousand employees who could help him find it.

Here’s another clue: Texas caps student-to-teacher ratios in primary and secondary education by statute at 22:1.  That limitation has been in place during the entire time that Perry has been governor in Texas.  The nation’s Secretary of Education apparently doesn’t know how to do research before positing claims, or — as Jones accuses — deliberately lied for political purposes.

The obvious political purpose is to attack a Republican challenger to his boss, which would put Duncan out of work.  Jones offers another motive: Perry’s refusal to join Duncan’s Race to the Top.  Perry balked at the program as part of his general opposition to federal interference in state jurisdiction, which Jones calls “political,” but offers it as a reason that Duncan would want to make Texas’ education efforts look deficient.

But are they deficient?  TEA chief Scott argues in his open letter to Duncan that Texas is actually doing better than average on several important metrics:

– 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 accept Virginia and those students attending Department of Defense Schools. Texas’ fourth-grade white students were ranked third behind only Virginia and Massachusetts.

It seems that the Secretary of Education needs to repeat a course or two on research, honesty, and integrity.

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Comment pages: 1 2

Everyone knows that Duncan and his Chicago Public schools stink. He ought to check his numbers before spouting off about Texas or any other schools for that matter after his success in Chicago.

And an o/t point, but I’m seeing this more and more and I find it quite annoying. When referring to certain groups of people, certain groups are capitalized as if it’s a “title” while another specific group is always referred to in lower case as if they don’t rate the racial “title”. I know it’s petty but it’s just another in a never ending list of little things that start to add up after a while. See below:

– 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 accept Virginia and those students attending Department of Defense Schools. Texas’ fourth-grade white students were ranked third behind only Virginia and Massachusetts.

I’ve even seen it written as Black and white in the same sentence as opposed to just plain black and white. Why is so much emphasis put on these naming conventions when we’re supposed to be post-racially colorblind Americans?

Big John on August 21, 2011 at 5:24 PM

Duncan: YOU LIE!!

Khun Joe on August 21, 2011 at 5:29 PM

Duncan better not go to Texas.

David in ATL on August 21, 2011 at 5:32 PM

Big John on August 21, 2011 at 5:24 PM

Excellent observation. That is where we are today in public education. Students are not tested on their individual knowledge, they are tested on their “subgroup” (racial, special needs, free and reduced lunch) status. Why is this important in the eyes of local schools when MAP testing time comes around?

From http://www.missourieducationwatchdog.com/2011/03/map-testing-its-most-terrible-time-of.html:

If one subgroup in a school fails, the whole school fails. And what does failure mean? If a school does not show improvement over a specified period of time, the school can become unaccredited and lose funding.

The Department of Education is a joke and headed up by a joker. Schools are becoming nothing more than social service agencies with HHS operating medical clinics in some schools and the Dept. of Agriculture providing free breakfast and lunches in high poverty schools to ALL children (even if ALL children don’t qualify for poverty level).

This administration is creating more and more dependence and more and more data information to be shared with other federal agencies. And Duncan has the audacity to call out Rick Perry?

manateespirit on August 21, 2011 at 6:09 PM

Duncan better not go to Texas.

David in ATL on August 21, 2011 at 5:32 PM

We’d probably treat him pretty ugly here.

kg598301 on August 21, 2011 at 6:16 PM

Political games from an Obama cabinet secretary? NOOOOO! Can’t be! And the media wonders why Perry would say what he did about the Fed.

Morons. All of them.

Wingo on August 21, 2011 at 6:32 PM

They lie because it works on plenty of people. Period.

lynncgb on August 21, 2011 at 7:01 PM

Understand something! It was Paul Vallis who turned the Chicago Public Schools around years ago and transformed them into a literal success story unlike anything Chicago had ever seen. That was until then Mayor Richard Daley didn’t like what Vallis was doing and essentially drove him out of Chicago. Then, here comes Arne Duncan, who undoes everything Paul Vallis had worked hard to create and literally sent the Chicago Schools back into the dark ages that they came from.

Arne Duncan is NOT an educator. He is a POLITICAL HACK and that is all he is. The fact that Obama was stupid enough to put Duncan in the position he has since made a national laughingstock out of is further proof as to how much of a hack Duncan really is.

It would not surprise me if Obama ends up throwing this stooge under the bus for this latest mess.

pilamaye on August 21, 2011 at 7:44 PM

We are all Texans now.

either orr on August 21, 2011 at 3:15 PM

Texas is just as much a state of mind as it is a place.

google it, it will make you homesick for Texas even if you have never been here.

cozmo on August 21, 2011 at 7:48 PM

I called out that worthless Chicago liar Duncan right off. He’s another Obama/Daley/Axelrod/Emanuel scumbag. There is no bottom for that crew.

Jaibones on August 21, 2011 at 7:49 PM

Some of the best schools in the country are in Fairfax, Virginia. It’s so odd that D.C. schools are so poor but geographically located near a very good public school system. It’s not like they don’t have a school system they could model themselves after.

I do wonder if the reason the Fairfax school system especially Alexandria are high quality, is because they are inside the beltway, and property values, and taxes are probably very healthy.

Exit question, Gov McDonnell is a Republican, will Arne Duncan disparage Virginia schools or wait and see if McDonnell is added to a Republican Presidential ticket/

Dr Evil on August 21, 2011 at 8:08 PM

Big John,

I absolutely agree with the capitalization issue. However, I’ll take it two steps further–when did Hispanic become a demographic — can someone show a map of Hispanic to me? If one is Hispanic–does that mean Spanish speaking? Don’t people from Spain speak Spanish, but wouldn’t they be referred to as European and not Hispanic? BTW, auto-spell automatically capitalizes Hispanic!

I’ll also say, divided we fall–our media is so incredibly intent on profiling all of us by using hyphens, sexual preference identification (unless one is hetero), income level, gender, ethnicity/heritage, etc. African-American drives me insane, especially when someone uses Egyptian-American in the same sentence. The last time I looked, Egypt was still located in Africa. I have a friend from Haiti, she despises being called A-A, she is not of African descent, and she is now a citizen, she wants to be called American. When pollsters say “women and minorities” vote a certain way, are the two mutually exclusive? How about “poor” and “working class”–aren’t we all working class, if we have a job? Do you see how easily we have come to accept these (limiting) definitions?

Going back to A-A, I have never understood why/how the description of A-A even entered our lexicon. Does anyone know?

I just want to be American–undefined!!

Off my German-Irish-English-French-American soapbox!!!

herm2416 on August 21, 2011 at 8:10 PM

Duncan lied for political purposes. As surprising and unexpected as the sun rising this morning.

IrishEyes on August 21, 2011 at 8:30 PM

I went to the local library to get a card and they had a form with lots of snoopy questions on race etc.
Under race I put INDIGENOUS AMERICAN,born in the U.S.A.
There was a question on color, I put light tan in the summer.
The biggie was nationality,naturally I put TEXAN.
Poor lady of color that gave me the paper to fill out was laughin’ so hard I thought she would bust.Said ain’t nobody ever put answers like that down before,I did get my library card.

Col.John Wm. Reed on August 21, 2011 at 9:03 PM

Can’t really blame Duncan, he just takes lessons from his boss the Liar-In-Chief.

Christian Conservative on August 21, 2011 at 11:38 PM

Arnie — or whoever wrote this for Arnie — were probably going by the claims made by the Texas Federation of Teachers during this past spring’s battle over where to cut funding to balance the state”s budget. The teachers groups were saying that if school funding was cut back the way Perry and Republicans in the Legislature wanted, there would be a million, billion, zillion students in each class for the 2011-12 school year.

Since most Texas schools start class on Monday, look for more stories in the upcoming days about the horrific toll the budget cuts are exacting on the state’s students and educators in the new school year.

jon1979 on August 22, 2011 at 12:40 AM

I think it is worth noting that the Dallas Morning News is a shamelessly liberal publication.

jeffn21 on August 22, 2011 at 8:57 AM

Of course Duncan lied. He works for Obama. Therefor, he is immoral. Zero doubt.

proconstitution on August 22, 2011 at 8:36 PM

Comment pages: 1 2