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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

October Surprise?
The Texas Testing Controversy

By Nicholas Stix
October 31, 2000

(Just before the 2000 presidential election, the socialist MSM, which was willing to do anything to help get Democrat candidate and then-Vice President Al Gore elected pressident, sprung two traps -- "October Surprises" -- on Gov. George W. Bush, the Republican candidate. The SMSM first published and broadcast reports that Bush had been arrested for driving while intoxicated over twenty years earlier, and then, on October 24, promoted a new "report" that insinuated that the "Texas Miracle" (Bush's phrase) in education was due to massive, institutionalized test fraud.)


Was George W. Bush caught cheating in school?

That's what four researchers at the prestigious Rand Corporation, a non-profit, education research organization based in Santa Monica, California, are claiming. In a report released on October 24, "What Do Test Scores in Texas Tell Us?," Stephen P. Klein, Laura S. Hamilton, Daniel F. McCaffrey and Brian M. Stecher suggest that there's something rotten in the state of Texas, and that the "Texas miracle" of educational progress, is really so much Texas bull.

Based on 1990-98 testing figures, Texas education officials had reported gains in reading, writing, and math among Texas public school children that tripled those made in the same subjects by children across the nation. And unlike the rest of the U.S., in which the racial educational gap between whites on the one hand, and blacks and Hispanics on the other, has in recent years been growing, in Texas it was shrinking.

Texas Gov. George Bush dubbed the reported gains "the Texas miracle," and made them a pillar of his Presidential candidacy.

(The national figures I referred to above were those of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the closest thing we have to a uniform, national educational exam, which is given in 44 states. The Texas figures were from the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS), which is unique to Texas.)

Immediately, one thinks: My, what a coincidence, just two weeks before Election Day. And only three months after a different team at the same Rand Corporation had published a major study, which wholeheartedly praised and endorsed Texas' educational progress.

Suspicious coincidences aside, the question is, Did Texas educators cheat, and fudge the results of the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS)? My initial judgement was that beyond partisan politics, we might never know the truth. But it didn't look good.

But accompanying the report, before it could even be criticized, Rand President James Thomson issued a combative press release insisting, "We don't produce findings for political reasons, we don't distribute them for political reasons, and we don't sit on them for political reasons. This is a scrupulously nonpartisan institution. He did protest too much.

As I read the report, I searched for evidence of cheating, of fraud, of misconduct ... and found none. Not one shred. What I found instead were loads of speculation, innuendo, and language weasely enough to fertilize all the onion fields in southern California.

And then I examined the orchestration of the media attacks on George W. Bush's education record going back months before the report's release, led by, among others, the "lead researcher" of the October 24 report, Stephen Klein, and I realized that there was no "aside" beyond the "coincidences." George W. Bush was the recipient of a political hit, pure and simple.

The guilty parties are, first and foremost, Rand Corporation "researchers" Stephen P. Klein, Laura S. Hamilton, Daniel F. McCaffrey and Brian M. Stecher, and Rand President James Thomson.

But they had help. Help came from, among others, Walt Haney, a Boston College professor of education, researchers Linda McNeil of Rice University and Angela Valenzuela of the University of Texas, and Washington Post reporter John Mintz, who provided the aforementioned players with the platform from which they initially attacked the TAAS. (Mintz, however, is the most morally ambiguous figure here, because he is a hero, too. Information he provided was crucial to this story.)

Walt Haney is a leader of the cabal of anti-testing ideologues among the radical professors who control virtually all of the nation's major teacher education programs, and which is now making inroads in independent testing and research organizations. Linda McNeil and Angela Valenzuela are likewise members of the "test bashing" cabal, in the phrase coined by education critic Richard Phelps. Politically, these professors are what is euphemistically referred to as "liberal" in some circles, "multicultural" in others, and what I call "racial socialist," since they combine socialism and racialism.

As we shall see, A) the "research" claiming to disprove the Texas Miracle is laughably incompetent and biased; B) the new report is contradicted by a much more thoroughly researched Rand report that was published just three months earlier, and whose lead author, David W. Grissmer has sharply criticized Klein & Co.; C) Rand Corporation President James Thomson's statement in defense of Klein, et al., has all of the credibility of New York Yankees manager Joe Torre's defenses of his pitcher, Roger Clemens,' attempts to maim the New York Mets' Mike Piazza; D) the leaders of academia's anti-testing subculture, e.g., Walt Haney, in Richard Phelps' words, "never met a test they liked"; E) and finally, we shall see the context of this "research"; a campaign — itself characterized by contradictory and outrageous statements — by anti-testing zealots to discredit George W. Bush's Presidential candidacy, and win the election for Vice-President Al Gore.

And yet with all that said, Gov. George W. Bush is not going to come out of this debacle smelling like the yellow rose of Texas, either. As we shall see, the TAAS is not without thorns. So pay attention, because there will be a test — on November 7th!

Originally published in Toogood Reports.

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