Why I didn't vote for President Bush 

The reason I got involved in supporting Democrats in the 2000 Presidential election was because of what I learned just before the election about Bush's track record on education and the environment as Governor of Texas.

It was the  RAND report that came out weeks before the election that piqued my curiosity. The report basically said Bush was a complete zero on education in Texas. Republicans attacked the timing of the report and claimed it was missing data. They never produced the mysterious "missing data." And as any scientist knows, you can't attack a peer reviewed technical paper based on timing. You have to attack the data or the methodology. To this day (now two years later), no one has presented a credible challenge to the data (although Chester Finn and Bill Bennett made a weak attempt; see The Finn Editorial- lots of questions). I replicated the calculations in the RAND report myself. You can do it too. The NAEP data was consistent with the SAT data: Texas had "flatlined." No improvement.

I subsequently learned things were far worse than the RAND report indicated. Walt Haney (a professor at Boston College) found out that the pass rates on Texas' TASP exam went from 80% passing (before Bush took office) to only 30% passing just 4 years after Bush took office as Texas governor. That's appalling. A 70% failure rate! After Haney's research was published, he received e-mails like this one:

Your article on "The Texas Myth" is completely accurate. I have been a Texas high school principal for the past ten years and can tell you that the political myth is really a political lie, and this from the principal of an exemplary school. The TAAS test has no relation to any national testing....our SATs have flat-lined as we have capped learning in favor of teaching this test. Those who cannot pass are ARDed into special ed, and non-English speakers are clustered in "newcomers' schools" on alternative campuses where accountability doesn't hurt the district's scores. The emperor has no clothes and everyone is afraid to say so. Anything you can do to keep this political agenda from spreading nationally would help education.

Haney recently published an update to his original article.

Bush said the #1 most important thing in America is education. And he had a dismal record on education as Governor of Texas. Yet this was the accomplishment mentioned in his Presidential campaign as the most significant.

So I went to his Presidential campaign website and read the claims. I found that they were all false and misleading. See the truth behind Bush's campaign hype for details.

I donated to Gore's campaign because I didn't want to see Bush do to education in America what he did to education in Texas. That's important if we want a better future for our children--yours and mine.

Bush has lived up to my worst fears. He said one thing during the campaign and did another after being selected President.

For example, he said over and over during the campaign that education was the #1 most important thing in America. But, if education is #1, then how can he answer the following questions:

  • Why did Bush cut the budget for his own education bill from the dollar amount suggested by the House? 
  • Why is there virtually zero increase in education spending if education is the most important thing?
  • Why didn't Bush use the trillion dollars in "excess funds" that he's refunding as a tax cut to us and instead apply that money first to fixing our schools, and then, only after our schools are fixed and working great, return anything leftover as a tax cut. Heck, I live in one of the wealthiest communities in the entire country, and our school buildings are falling apart. If Bush put that money just into bringing our existing schools up to building codes that would be a big step. 
  • How can you have no money in the budget for the #1 most important thing in America, yet have over a trillion dollars available for a tax cut?  
  • Why, if "no child left behind" is the motto, did Bush not fund special ed students as mandated by federal law? Do these kids not count as a "child?"
  • How can you possibly hold schools "accountable" if we have not provided the resources and authority for them to succeed? I live in one of the richest communities in America and we have to cut 50 teachers from our small school district next year because of lack of funds. Class sizes will rise to 30+ kids. It's worse in less wealthy communities. The US government is providing zero aid to us. Before the budget cuts, our school district was one of the top performing in the state. So Bush won't help out with the funds we need, so we'll cut 50 teachers and raise class sizes. Test scores will suffer. And Bush will hold our schools accountable? That's a setup for failure. Why isn't he providing the funds we need just to maintain the status quo?
  • If you really believe education was #1 most important thing, then why did you appoint Rod Paige as Secretary of Education? Paige is a proponent of CEP which is one of the worst examples of leaving children behind (in this case, locked in for years) and Houston, where Paige was in charge, has one of the worst drop out rates in America (see the table at the end in Haney's update) Lastly, when I questioned Paige about CEP, he gave a completely evasive answer. He's a disaster. You can learn more about Paige here.

I'm hardly the only one to figure this out. See The Bush Watch which talks about his non-record in education.

In August 2000, ACT has released state and national test results for the ACT college admissions test for 2001.


Texas remains one of the lowest scoring states (20.1 average composite score, as compared with 20.8 national average) even though only 32% of HS graduates in the state took the SAT. There are a few others states with averages as low or lower than Texas (AL, CO, IL, KY, NM, and TN), but in these states between 63 and 99% of graduates took the ACT. Pretty dismal results especially given the low proportion of TX kids who even make it to the upper years of high school. Just one most bit of evidence on the Texas miracle in education . . .

Bush's environmental track record was poor in Texas. As President he has the worst rating of any US President. Check out this report on how he's systematically rolled back decades of environmental progress. 30 pages of rollbacks.

I give to politicians because I care about the future of America. 

Under Bush, that future is looking very bleak I'm afraid.

I want a President with a vision and a plan for a better future for all Americans. 

Right now education, energy policy, and the environment are critical. Yet there are no national goals for education, none for energy; and none for the environment. Zero. That Cheney Energy Task force report didn't have a single measurable goal you could hold them accountable for. Just a set of recommendations...invest more in this, study that. No goals and no strategy to achieve the goals.

I want a President who will say "the goal for education is to reduce the high school dropout rate to less than 10% within 10 years and here's the proven method we have tested that will guarantee we will accomplish this goal." Or who will say "a key goal for energy is to reduce our dependence on foreign oil by 50% within 15 years and here's the credible plan on how we are going to do it." Or will tell us how the US will lead the way to reverse global warming. 

I want a leader I can follow and believe in.

Bush's vision for America is  tax cuts and going to war against terrorism. I think our focus should be instead on improving our economy, not on tax cuts. What good is a tax cut if you just lost your job, or if you lost half your savings in a stock market that has gone downhill ever since Bush got elected? And if we want to fight terrorism, we shouldn't go to war against terrorists. We should focus on making friends throughout the world and helping other countries. We should reach out. But instead, Bush has pulled out of foreign treaties and ignored the Middle East (until recently). The result is that foreigners don't like us because we are unilaterists. That's bad policy. And it will lead to more terrorism, not less. By declaring war on terrorism, we are creating an enemy that will spiral out of control. We should be out helping people, not attacking them.

Were you better off under Clinton or Bush? You decide.

In 2004, you'll get a chance to hold Bush accountable. 

I hope you'll get involved. Here's the DNC website.

Steve Kirsch

Here's some background reading:

Texas Miracle? Bush's real record on education is appalling
Before Bush took office, pass rates on the TASP exam (required to get into Texas higher ed) were 80%. Only 4 years after he took office, the pass rate had plummetted to 30%. By focusing on TASS and accountability for Texas kids, all the focus was on teaching to the TASS test, rather than true learning. Since Texas never published the TASP pass rates (we got ours via a phone call), the press never asked any questions and Bush never had to explain it. 

The mystery of the "conflicting RAND reports" explained
This report explains how the American press completely missed the fact that the both RAND reports really were saying the same thing: that there was no Texas Miracle. Why didn't anyone from the press ask the authors about the data or the methodology? Explains that the one-time blip in NAEP scores was not due to any improvement in real learning but instead due to a focus on test-taking skills. The authors of both RAND reports agreed that Texas' NAEP scores have remained flat since Bush took office.

The truth behind Bush's campaign hype
When I examined the facts behind the claims made on Bush's campaign website regarding education, I found that he basically took credit for things he did not do.


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