Why is Arne Duncan messing with Texas? I asked the Secretary of Education about this a few hours after he injected himself into the presidential-election scrum. Policy wonks like me had woken up to baffling reports that Duncan told Bloomberg Television’s Al Hunt that the Texas school system “has really struggled” under Rick Perry, the GOP governor who just announced he is running for President. “Far too few of their high school graduates are actually prepared to go on to college,” Duncan said in the TV interview, which is scheduled to air this weekend, telling Hunt that he feels “very, very badly for the children there.”
Granted, the reactionary posture Perry and his state’s education officials have toward ideas that don’t have a Texas twang is ridiculous in the interconnected 21st century. And it’s debatable how much credit Perry deserves for education reforms that largely predate his administration.
But the bottom line is that although schools in Texas are no great shakes, they’re hardly the nation’s worst.