Monday, July 18, 2005

Gubernatorial absenteeism

The National Governors Association agree to set a common standard for high school dropouts. Missing from the Washington Post coverage was a mention of the so-called "Texas Miracle" in which the dropout rate in the Lone Star State miraculously dropped to 1% several years ago. Uh, not really, we found out later. There were still 30-40% dropout rates around the state --and much higher rates in heavily African- and Mexican-American areas.

But state and district education officials employed what some have come to call "Enron-style accounting" to education statistics.

Yesterday's agreement by the NGA was a way to avoid that in the future and provide reliable and valid statistics:

Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R), the incoming NGA chairman, said the current system of measuring graduation rates allows states to disguise poor performance -- as if, he said, some basketball teams were shooting at eight-foot hoops when others are shooting at the standard 10-foot hoops. Calling existing data "meaningless," he said, "We're going to be able to honestly know how we're doing in comparison to other states."

But guess who was absent from the NGA conference? The Governors of California, Florida, and yes, Texas, were all no-shows. That would be Governator, Jeb, and Goodhair. What a trio. Those three need to get with the program. The NGA's work won't mean much if three of the biggest five states in the union don't sign on.

Texas, in particular, could use a little reputation restoration following the Texas Miracle fiasco.


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