Can you believe what he's accomplished?

Bush's Education Reform Record 

Some of the statistics Governor Bush is most proud of

See also how Bush misrepresents the truth on his web site.

We don’t have to look at test scores at all to figure out whether education in Texas has improved. Consider these other well-established facts from the two reports, a recently released video featuring Texas educators (or read the transcript), and from other news reports:

  • Texas ranks last among all 50 states in teacher salaries (check out how poorly Texas does in other categories)
  • 43% of Texas teachers plan to leave or are considering leaving teaching. [Fort Worth Star-Telegram/AP, 4/28/00] See TSTA - In The News
  • Money that could have gone into raising teacher salaries went into tax cuts for the rich. [video]
  • The high school dropout rates in Texas are 30% overall [Haney, video]
  • The high school dropout rate in Texas is 50% among minorities [Haney]
  • Missing students and other mirages in Texas enrollment statistics profoundly affected both reported dropout statistics and test scores. [Haney]
  • The gains on TAAS and the unbelievable decreases in dropouts during the 1990s are more illusory than real. [Haney]
  • At the start of every school year, school begins with literally hundreds of classrooms without teachers [video]
  • Governor Bush has appointed a teacher certification board that, instead of working on improving 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 [video]
  • One in five Texas high school teachers are not certified [Dallas Morning News, 1/25/00]
  • The New York Times reported that in February 1999, officials with the University of Texas system presented a report to a Texas House subcommittee complaining of "marked declines in the number of students who are prepared academically for higher education." 
  • Lesley Stahl of "60 Minutes" reported that one minority high school in Houston had no library but had spent $20,000 on test-preparation materials. An education professor at Rice told Ms. Stahl that even high school students who pass the Texas test couldn't necessarily read.
  • About 41,000 of 63,000 vacancies in Texas public schools were unfilled last year [Ft Worth Star-Telegram, May 10, 2000]
  • At the start of every school year, school begins with literally hundreds of classrooms without teachers [video]
  • Since about 1982, the rates at which Black and Hispanic students are required to repeat grade 9 have climbed steadily, such that by the late 1990s, nearly 30% of Black and Hispanic students were "failing" grade 9. [Haney]
  • Texas charter schools were even poorer than public schools. Even though the racial mix was skewed to non-white, and the number of schools (66) is small, the economically disadvantaged rate was very similar, the percent of special ed students was less in the charter schools, and the test scores were uniformly substantially lower. This is TX's own report on its charter schools.

Now ask yourself this: Are these the type of educational results you’d like to see in your community? Does this sound like an infrastructure where a miracle could occur? So we really didn’t need to look at the test data at all to figure out who was telling the truth!


  • There is no “Texas Miracle” (which referred to the supposed gain in TAAS scores and the narrowing of the achievement gap) because the two independent studies reached the exact same conclusion: that Texas state test scores (TAAS) can’t be trusted.
  • On national tests (NAEP), with one exception (4th grade math), Texas scores have remained flat over the period Bush was governor
  • The dramatic gains in the earlier RAND paper (in 4th grade math) are not truly indicative of any real gain in math proficiency, but in better “test-taking” proficiency for a certain class of questions. It is widely known that when you coach kids for how to answer particular kinds of questions (“teaching for the test”), test scores go up steadily. But as soon as you change the test to questions that haven’t been specifically drilled for, scores go right back to where they were. So you have better test takers, not better understanding of the material. The reason scores went up in national 4th grade math tests is that these tests in those years had similar kinds of questions as on the TAAS exams for those years (computational skills, arithmetic operations, etc). These gains were not evident on the national 8th grade tests (which are much more complicated and much harder to practice for).
  • In the opinion of educators in Texas, schools are devoting a huge amount of time and energy preparing students specifically for TAAS, and emphasis on TAAS is hurting more than helping teaching and learning in Texas schools, particularly with at-risk students, and TAAS contributes to retention in grade and dropping out.
  • The gap between races actually widened, rather than narrowed as Bush claimed.
  • After Bush took office, Texas’s own state test 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).
  • Performance on the SAT in Texas has not improved since the early 1990s, (compared with SAT takers nationally)
  • How SAT-Math scores have deteriorated relative to students nationally  
  • 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"
    • ncreasing the dropout rate (so only smarter kids took the exam)
    • The increasing dropout rate of Texas's minority children--about 50 percent (so only smarter kids took the exam)
    • A statistical quirk called "topping out"--state tests are so easy that the most able students score close to 100 percent, which artificially cuts their test-score edge over less able students.
  • The passing scores on TAAS tests were arbitrary and discriminatory.

Jay Greene, in a paper referenced by the Bush site does make an interesting and persuasive argument for the ability of a measurement system alone to increase test scores. But that very same article confirms other facts in comparing 1993 to 1998:

  • Per pupil spending rose only slightly (<5%) after adjusting for inflation
  • The percentage of teachers with a masters or doctorate degree declined. The percentage of teachers with less than 6 years of experience increased

If he wanted real educational improvement, he should have decided to invest in teacher salaries and in teacher training so that Texas could retain the best and brightest teachers. That’s just plain common sense. And the need for that is confirmed Texas Education Commissioner Jim Nelson who is quoted in an article in the Star-Telegram:

  • Only half the state's graduating seniors are prepared to enter the work force or attend college.
  • The Legislature should approve programs to better train math and science teachers.
  • The Legislature also must consider improving teacher pay and benefits,
  • “We've got to do a better job of retaining teachers -- too many leave after three years. There clearly is a shortage…”

You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure out what to believe here. In short, if Texas’ focus on testing using state tests (TAAS) really produced superior learning, it would have shown up on the national test scores. It didn’t. The only thing Bush gained in Texas was better test-takers on state tests, not students that are better educated.

Teacher TURNOVER stats

MORE Educational stats

Bush's real views on education (in his own words)

If you think vouchers are the way and that's why you support Bush, you should read this site first about vouchers

Generic Texas stats (from the "unofficial" Bush campaign website)

Steve Kirsch Political Home Page

Hit Counter