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reforms that would be necessary to get exports and jobs up. Such reforms would, after all, curtail the power and influence of Wall Street. So, for this group to favor Free Trade and oppose Budget Deficits at the same time smacks of wanting cake and eating it too. And the only other choice? It is to live with budget deficits, at least for now. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t repeal most of Bush’s tax cuts and put the money toward health care, education, and energy policy. By all means we should do that, and more. But don’t expect to do all these things and “fix the budget deficit” too. An attempt to “cure” the budget deficit before private companies and households are ready to spur their spending and investment ahead of their savings will only slow the economy and kill more jobs. That in turn would recreate the budget deficit through falling tax revenue. In other words, unless and until the private sector is ready once again to Take Off, cutting public deficits won’t happen. No matter what you try. \(Why don’t official budget projections agree? Because they assume, completely mechanically, that the economic growth rate will not be affected by policy action. This assumption is certainly wrong, in The dirty secret of credit capitalism, as I’ve heard Bill Greider say, is that someone has to do the borrowing. If the private sector won’t do it, the public sector must. Economic policy is about choices. They are not always between attractive options. This, I fear, is the reality we face now and will continue to face after Mr. Bush is gone. Got it? Now can you remember it? No? OK, here’s the short version. The private and public sectors are linked. If the private sector changes, the public sector also must. The private sector has changed. And so, what worked in the 1990s won’t work now. We will have to come up with something else, a solution for the problems we actually have. Including our trade problem. What exactly? That’s a subject for future columns. Neeley, continued from page 5 doubled for students in all ethnic and economic groups. Last spring, 95 percent of Galena Park’s high school seniors passed the exit-level TAAS exam, and the achievement gaps between ethnic groups were negligible. Today, Galena Park is the largest district in the state to receive a TEA rating of “exemplary.” “I am asking Dr. Neeley to do on the state level what she has done in Galena Park, which is to create a culture of educational excellence, and a focus on educational efficiency, so more students graduate from high school prepared for college and success in life,” Perry said in a press release announcing Neeley’s appointment to the commissionership. The gains Neeley’s students made on the TAAS are real. It’s doubtful, however, that higher TAAS scores alone prepare kids as well as our governor seems to believe. Throughout Neeley’s term as superintendent, the district’s scores and ACTthe tests by which college admission boards decide whether a student is “prepared for college and success in life”slumped downward. While the TAAS and TAKS measure how much of the tested material each student knows, the SAT compares every student’s performance against his or her peers. Compared to their peers across the nation and within the state, Galena Park’s high school students have lost ground. In 1996, the year after Neeley became superintendent and the last time the SAT was recalibrated, the average SAT score in the district was 1016beating out the regional average of 1006, and the state average of 993. Scores dropped across the whole state in the intervening years, but Galena Park’s scores fell more than most. By 2002, the district’s average SAT score had dropped to 885, while the regional average was at 1000 and the state average at 986. Neeley attributes the low scores on the SAT and ACT to the larger number of Galena Park students who take the test these days. However, the same percentage of students took the test in 1996 as in 2002. While the percentage of students taking the test did rise and fall during the nineties, scores on the and TAKS scores. In 1996, Hispanic students had an average SAT score of 960; their average score has fallen almost continuously since. In 2002, the average score’ was 841. The average score of Galena Park’s black students drifted down from 950 in 1996 to 854 in 2002. The district’s white students lost the least ground, going from an average score of 1094 in 1996 to 1008 in 2002. And while scores have been in a slide for the whole state, Galena Park student scores are dropping faster than most. In 1996, all the district’s student groups outscored their peers statewide by 50 points or more. In 2002, only Galena Park’s black students scored higherby 15 pointsthan their peers state-wide. \(In 1996, they outscored their state peers Racial disparities also persist within the very TAAS and TAKS scores, if you look at the state’s numbers closely. The equivalency” score on the TAAS exit continued on page 23 James K Galbraith teaches at the LBJ School. exams dropped almost continuously. One reason Galena Park’s scores remain below state and regional averages may be because the district has more minority studentswho typically score lower on the two examsand fewer white students, who typically score higher. While this could help explain Galena Park’s low scores, it begs the question of whyif TAAS and TAKS scores today show so little disparity between ethnic groupsthe district’s minority students are still less prepared for these critical college entrance exams than their white peers. Galena Park’s SAT scores reveal a troubling achievement gap between racial groups that doesn’t show up immediately in the district’s TAAS Scores dropped across the whole state, but Galena Park’s scores fell more than most. 4/9/04 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 17