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August 13, 2003

Yellowcake in Education Results

The lies told by Bush to sell the Iraq war are little different from the lies told to sell other policies, such as his education policy. Bush sold his testing policy in Texas as a model for the country, yet it's built on promoting systematic falsifications of student success in Texas. For example, take Houston claiming zero dropouts in many schools:

Nor was zero an unusual dropout rate in this school district that both President Bush and Secretary of Education Rod Paige have held up as the national showcase for accountability and the model for the federal No Child Left Behind law. Westside High here had 2,308 students and no reported dropouts; Wheatley High 731 students, no dropouts. A dozen of the city's poorest schools reported dropout rates under 1 percent.

A miracle? "A fantasy land," said Dr. Kimball. "They want the data to look wonderful and exciting. They don't tell you how to do it; they just say, 'Do it.' " In February, with the help of Dr. Kimball, the local television station KHOU broke the news that Sharpstown High had falsified its dropout data. That led to a state audit of 16 Houston schools, which found that of 5,500 teenagers surveyed who had left school, 3,000 should have been counted as dropouts but were not. Last week, the state appointed a monitor to oversee the district's data collection and downgraded 14 audited schools to the state's lowest rating.

Why the lies? Because the system encourages it, just as Bush officials encouraged intelligence agencies to lie about Iraq.
You need to understand the atmosphere in Houston," Dr. Kimball said. "People are afraid. The superintendent has frequent meetings with principals. Before they go in, the principals are really, really scared. Panicky. They have to make their numbers."
From education to the environment to the budget to Iraq, you have an administration that systematically encourages lower level parts of government to lie about the facts to sell bad policy.

Posted by Nathan at August 13, 2003 07:26 AM