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Arne Duncan, Obama’s Secretary of Education, was CEO of Chicago Public Schools from 2001-2009.  He recently expressed concern for education in Texas by lamenting,  “I feel very, very badly for the children there (Texas)”.

Perhaps Secretary Duncan would rather not discuss his failure running Chicago schools.


 “Thanks Arne” 

His comments remind me of a long past little league baseball game hearing criticism for my single’s failure to drive in a run from a player who had struck out earlier.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) data from 2003-2009 show  Chicago lagging many major cities in both math test scores and progress. Comparisons of Houston, Texas’s largest city, with Chicago show Chicago trailing Houston both in math test scores and progress at the fourth and eighth grades levels.  During a seven-year period Chicago’s  eight-grade reading scores were flat  and math scores increased 9 percent, while at the same time in Houston reading scores increased 4% and math scores increased 13%

Students in Texas have reading and math scores close to the national average according to the NAEP, albeit that the national averages are too low. Its minority students outperform minority students in Chicago, and minority students in  Texas drop out at lower rates than they do in Illinois . Although Texas has a slightly lower than average  high school graduation rate of 73% , such success would be welcome in Chicago given its graduation rate of 56%.

Houston’s public high school students, whom Duncan feels “very, very badly for”, have an average ACT score of 19.7.  Chicago has an average of 17.3.

Perhaps Houston’s children have an advantage. Houston’s school day is more than an  hour longer than Chicago’s and the school year is ten days longer.  This translates into 250 more school hours per year. Cumulatively, 250 more school hours per year mean three more years of school.  On equal hours per year basis Chicago students get nine years of school to Houston’s twelve.

Secretary Duncan, we understand your concern for education, but why Texas kids?

What about Chicago kids?

Have a fulfilling and profitable day,

WC (Bill) Augustine

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