Governor Rick Perry's Education Report Card: F

Steven D. Schafersman
October 13th, 2009

Followers of and advocates for Texas public education who read this website are aware of Governor Rick Perry's contempt for public education and the students and teachers of this state. In frequent reports I have detailed Gov. Perry's efforts to weaken and damage public school education through his proxies he appoints, the chairmen of the State Board of Education, Don McLeroy and Gail Lowe, and the Texas Education Commissioner, Robert Scott. Through them Gov. Perry has severely damaged state education standards, textbooks, and exams, while along the way ignoring curriculum experts, insulting teachers, and angering scientists. Through them and their colleagues Gov. Perry has extorted textbook publishers (by threatening them with rejection of their instructional materials and loss of millions of dollars in revenues) to produce politically-correct censored textbooks, supported and encouraged charter schools at the expense of public schools, and supported and funded the expansion of private individual vouchers through the use of public funds for the education of autistic children and for computer and instructional materials purchased for the use of virtual education in home schools. Through them Gov. Perry has successfully established abstinence-only instruction as the dominant sexuality education in Texas, with tragic results for teenaged girls. Every single one of these actions damages public education and the academic success of Texas students.

Texas has among the lowest standardized national test scores, student retention and graduation rates, and achievement statistics of all the states in the country. Texas has the highest rates of teenage pregnancy and illegitimate births, among the highest rates of sexually-transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS infection among teenagers, and among the highest rate of teenage abortion in the country. Texas has earned among the lowest grades for its curriculum standards among all the states in the country. How much longer can this abysmal student academic and social performance persist in one of the richest states in the country? The ratio of student academic achievement and social success to individual and corporate wealth must be the lowest in the history of the planet. These extraordinarily low results are not a coincidence. They can be achieved only by active leadership at the highest levels to create and institute policies designed to make sure that students fail. There can be no other explanation.

I have avoided in my many essays, reports, reviews, and blogs--for the most part--dealing with school finances and student expenditures. Most readers already know that Texas ranks low in these statistics, too, despite the enormous corporate and individual wealth in the state. Fortunately, just in time for the election, the Texas Democratic Party has produced a list of Gov. Rick Perry's top ten failures. Failure number 4 deals with public education. I thought I would copy that material here for the benefit of my readers. All the text that follows is from that webpage.


There are over 4.65 million school children in 1,031 school districts in Texas, and during Rick Perry’s 25 years as a career politician, he’s neglected all of them. In 2006, facing the threat of Texas schools being closed under a Texas Supreme Court order, Perry and the Republican-controlled legislature were forced to address the school finance crisis. Predictably, they only made things worse for Texas taxpayers and school children.

Under the name of “school finance,” Rick Perry created a tax scheme that shortchanges local schools and benefits his biggest contributors instead of Texas school children. His school finance is little more than a busted band-aid intended to cover-up one of his worst failures:

School Finance and Taxes: F

* The “margins tax” Perry created was supposed to pay for education, but it turned out to be a windfall for oil and gas producers, who paid $78 million less in taxes under the new business tax in 2008 than they paid under the old tax in 2007. (Source: Houston Chronicle via Off the Kuff)

* Perry’s school finance scheme also froze state funding for education at 2006 levels. While oil companies profited, many Texans paid more as many local districts were forced to lay off teachers, cut class offerings, and raise local taxes. Since Perry’s tax scheme took effect in 2006, 230 Texas school districts have been forced to raise local property taxes. (Source: Houston Chronicle)

* In 2008, Perry’s tax scheme fell $1.4 billion short of projected revenue collections, leaving a gaping hole in the state budget that was only rescued by the federal stimulus funding Perry opposed, funds Democrats used to pass a Democrat-driven school finance bill during the last legislative session. (Source: Brownsville Herald)

Rick Perry’s tax scheme is not a long-term solution to the state’s school finance crisis. (Source: Dallas Morning News). The $1.4 billion shortfall that Texas Democrats temporarily fixed in 2009 is expected to double in size to $2.8 billion in 2011. The Republicans have no plan to fix that shortfall, and both Perry and Kay Bailey Hutchison are signing a bogus anti-tax pledge, guaranteeing they will continue to do nothing to solve the school finance crisis. (Source: Midland Reporter-Telegram)

Teachers, Classrooms and Standardized Tests: F

As Perry and Hutchison play partisan politics with our public schools, our students and educators are left without the resources they need for a quality education:

* Texas ranks 45th in the country in per student expenditures ($7,818 per student, about $2,000 below the national average), and Texas schools have a higher debt than any other state in the country, even California. (Source: Austin American-Statesman)

* Texas teachers are paid more than $6,000 below the national average and half of all new teachers quit in five years. (Source: Washington Post) Yet, Rick Perry and Republicans continue to waste hundreds of millions on a failed “merit pay” system that allowed the Houston ISD superintendent to get a $67,250 bonus, an amount 35 times the average teacher bonus. (Source: Houston Chronicle via Burnt Orange Report)

* Rick Perry continues to push failed voucher schemes and standardized testing – going so far as to give $100 million a year to private companies to administer the tests – despite the fact that Texas’ incredibly high drop-out rate is directly related to our failed standardized-test system. (Source: Rice University’s Center for Education)

Instead of having a public school system driven by “test and punish,” we need to invest in helping children learn. The Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University recently released a report stating that Texas loses as much as $9.6 billion a year in earned income because of our dropout crisis. (Source: Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University)

Rick Perry has failed our children, parents and teachers, and it’s costing Texas taxpayers billions of dollars every year. For Texas’ school children and taxpayers, “business as usual” from Rick Perry is unacceptable.

Thanks to the Texas Democratic Party for this information
Last updated: 2009 October 19
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