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 candidate. 

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 reasons.

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. 


Title: Report 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 results

Selected excerpts:

  • The 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.
  • Mark 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,'' Fabiani said.
  • Researchers offered hypotheses for the ''stark differences'' in results on the Texas and national tests:
    • Coaching by teachers (who are awarded for student achievement)
    • The exam doesn’t change much from year to year
    • The exam is “not particularly tough”
  • ``I 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,'' 
  • Bush, 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 classrooms.


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 Policy

Date: August 19, 2000

Selected excerpts:

  • A convergence of evidence indicates that during the 1990s, slightly less than 70% of students in Texas actually graduated from high school.
  • Only 50% of minority students in Texas have been progressing from grade 9 to high school graduation since the initiation of the TAAS testing program.
  • Between 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).
  • As 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.
  • SAT-Math scores have deteriorated relative to students nationally.
  • The 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.
  • I discuss problems of missing students and other mirages in Texas enrollment statistics that profoundly affect both reported dropout statistics and test scores.
  • The gains on TAAS and the unbelievable decreases in dropouts during the 1990s are more illusory than real. The Texas "miracle" is more hat than cattle.”


Title: "I know what you did in Texas"(video) (transcript)
Date: October 23, 2000

Source: Democratic National Committee

Selected excerpts:

  • We 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.
  • What 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.
  • Governor 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.
  • At the start of every school year, school begins with literally hundreds of classrooms without teachers
  • Governor 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
  • One in five Texas high school teachers are not certified – Dallas Morning News, 1/25/00
  • Forty 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.
  • Governor 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


Title: Bush record hard to grade
Date: September 3, 2000

Source: Sacramento Bee

Selected excerpts:

  • …Bush, who has pronounced education his top priority
  • Governor 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).
  • "Would 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.
  • And 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 presidential timber.
  • …for 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.
  • Bush plainly deserves credit for boosting education spending and for using his gubernatorial bully pulpit to champion higher school standards.
  • But 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.
  • Bush also lacks a definitive track record in his home state on two of his most significant national policy proposals: charter schools and vouchers.
  • He 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.
  • But 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.]
  • In 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.]
  • Longtime 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."
  • A 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.
  • "There 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."
  • Texas 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."
  • Back at Wharton Elementary, Sandoval … says her school's success is mostly due to a talented, veteran faculty that she has worked hard to preserve…

 Star-Telegram: 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 Tarrant County.

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 said.

"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.

Texas Education Miracle No Mirage

By: Jay Greene

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 urban areas.
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 therefore limited.

WSJ.com --Schoolyard Brawl
Wall St Journal, Oct 27, 2000

  • The Klein/Fabiani criticism has to do with an alleged discrepancy in Texas between scores on the state's own assessment test and Texas's performance in a national assessment test. The report doesn't refute evidence that scores on the state test have risen markedly in Texas in recent years. Instead, Mr. Klein claims the achievement is questionable because scores on the national assessment test haven't risen at the same pace.

    "I think any interpretation of the numbers that these gains on the state test reflect real improvements in student performance are just not right," Mr. Klein said on "Today."

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 states."
  • 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
NY Times

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 Williamson
Date: July 25, 2000
Excerpts from the press release

  • 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 among states. 
  • 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 biased downward.
  • 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 measured. 


.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 perverse."

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.





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