NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Bush Scores High In Texas Education Reforms

September 12, 2000

Analysts have given Texas Gov. George W. Bush high marks for school reforms in Texas, where his bipartisan approach has led public schools to show some of the greatest improvement in the country in recent years. The Rand Corporation recently credited education reforms for the fact that the state's fourth-graders led the nation in math score improvement from 1992 to 1996.

Bush has made education a focal point of his administration:

  • Texas has established a statewide accountability system which has become a model for the nation.
  • It has adopted one of the most liberal charter school laws in the country.
  • The reading initiative requires that all students be reading at grade level by the third grade, and social promotion was ended.

Innovating is easier for Bush because he has no commitment to teachers unions, which oppose choice, teacher accountability, and almost any other change in the status quo other than higher teachers' salaries.

A key to Bush's success has been his ability to cross party lines and get the cooperation of Democrats in the legislature, although one Bush plan that failed for lack of Democrat support was a pilot program of tax-funded vouchers.

Bush has learned as governor the hoops states must jump through to get federal education funds, and has called for giving local schools more flexibility in how they use federal dollars in exchange for greater accountability. As it stands now, Ohio, for example, calculated that federal funds provide only five percent of its education revenue, but required more than 50 percent of its paperwork.

Source: Dorman Cordell (NCPA), "Bush's Bipartisan Approach Is Good For Schools," Dallas Morning News, September 10, 2000.


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