Strayhorn and Perry arguing over funding.

Jane Elliott/Clay Robison in the Chron:

Gov. Rick Perry said Tuesday that Texans can be proud of student educational gains, but his chief rival, Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, countered that residents should be ashamed of the state's record on school funding and achievement.

"No other state in America can measure up to the progress Texas has made in improving education," Perry said in a speech to business and education leaders.

"Fancy education proposals packaged in lofty titles won't fool the people of Texas. It is a sham to preach excellence and deliver mediocrity," Strayhorn said at a news conference shortly after Perry's speech.

She cited statistics indicating Texas trails most states in several key education indicators, including per pupil spending, teacher pay, high school graduation rate and college entrance scores.

But Perry said scores on national assessments have gone up in every age group, ethnicity and subject area. More students are taking advanced math courses here and the state spends the most on pre-K education, he said.

Texas is the first state to make a college prep curriculum the standard in high school, to provide study guides for struggling students and to tailor individualized graduation plans for students at risk of dropping out, Perry added.

Both state officials were speaking truthfully, with each using statistics to support their perspective. Perry is running for re-election in the March 7 GOP primary, while Strayhorn, a Republican, is running for governor as an independent.

Perry focused on documented gains in student scores on state and national tests over the past seven years and targeted programs passed by the Legislature. Strayhorn honed in on funding issues, where Texas falls below the national average for per-student spending and teacher salaries.

She was specific in saying that Texas ranks low in Scholastic Aptitude Test scores and high school graduation rates. Perry merely alluded to these issues when he said that the state is "by no means near the summit" of education excellence.

Although the article alludes otherwise, I'm pretty sure Strayhorn and Perry disagreed over whether per student increased or dropped in 2005.

Posted by Evan @ 02/22/06 08:08 AM


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