White, Perry dispute scope of dropout issue
By GARY SCHARRER
SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS
April 7, 2010, 7:57PM
AUSTIN — The school dropout problem is so serious, Bill White said, he plans to discuss it everywhere as he campaigns for Texas governor.
The Houston Democrat faults incumbent Gov. Rick Perry for minimizing the problem. Nearly 1 million Texas students have failed to graduate or get a GED on time during the past nine years, White said this week.
“The governor should account for these students or say why it's not important,” White said. “If you do not understand the size and nature of the challenge, you can't solve it. You can't set goals; you can't measure annual progress. Governor Perry himself set a goal of not letting any of our students slip through the cracks. He's failed.”
The scope of the dropout problem comes down to “different calculations,” Perry said Wednesday.
“The one that Mr. White uses is taking the number of kids starting their freshmen year and then the ones that graduate in four years the following May or June. If a child dies, they count that as a dropout. I think that's a little harsh,” the governor said.
Earlier, Perry spokesman Mark Miner said, “The percent of students who enter high school and eventually earn a diploma or equivalent, or who remain in pursuit of a diploma or equivalent, is 90 percent.”
What the experts find
Many groups, including the Manhattan Institute and the Intercultural Development Association, generally agree the student attrition rate for Texas hovers around 31 percent to 33 percent statewide and approaches 50 percent in large urban school districts with big concentrations of minority students.
The San Antonio-based Intercultural Development Association reported a statewide attrition of 132,815 students from the 2007-08 graduating class. That included the loss of 22,870 students from Harris County, including a 42 percent attrition rate for Hispanics, 35 percent for blacks and 13 percent for Anglos...link to complete article