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TheTexasObserver is proud to host a book signing and panel discussion featuring And his new’book The Raw Deal: How the Bush Republicans Plan to Destroy Social Security Joe Conason is the bestselling author of Big Lies: The Right Wing Propaganda Machine and How it Distorts the Truth. The Raw Deal examines the most well financed, and determined effort to undo the Social Security Act since its inception in 1935. Joining Conason on the panel will be economist and columnist James K. Galbraith and Kenneth S. Apfel, of the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Aus tin. Apfel served as Commissioner of Social Security during the Clinton administration. Wednesday October 19, 2005 7:00 9:00 P.M. The AFL-CIO Hall 1106 Lavaca Austin TX 78701 Admission is free. whistle on an utterly impossible zeropercent dropout rate at an urban high school with a large Mexican immigrant scholastic population. \(He was reasscores were improving because teachers were teaching the test and administrators were quietly accommodating the early departure of students who might threaten campus-wide test scores. The Texas Miracle was The Texas Fraud. Other essays in the collection are an expansion and elaboration on the themes that are explained and documented by McNeil. The high dropout rate among Latino students, Valenzuela convincingly explains, is encouraged by the use of standardized tests in lower grades, where students who don’t pass are retained. It was initiated in Texas as part of former Texas Governor George Bush’s campaign to end social promotion. In TEA’s own reports, Valenzuela found that in 2002″ Hispanic students, who represented 54 percent of the state’s high school population, also represented 37 percent of high school dropouts. African-American students, who represented 14.3 percent of the state’s high school population, represented 18.7 of its dropouts. And white students, representing 45.3 percent of the state’s high school students, represented only 25.5 percent of dropouts. She also documents the common-sense supposition that kids retained in elementary school are far more likely to drop out of high school. \(Valenzuela herself has dropped out, leaving the University of Texas to accept a position The arguments advanced by the authors Valenzuela brings together in this volume are disturbing but not surprising. Minority students have historically been cheated by legislators unwilling to adequately fund our state’s public schools. We are on yet another round of Texas Supreme deliberation on the lack of equity in school funding. And the Legislature just spent most of the summer refusing to come up with the money that would provide equity and adequacy for the state’s public schools. So it’s hardly shocking that a system of standardized testing designed to drive reform serves interests of students in suburban schools at the expense of minority students. \(Another argument advanced in the book is that because they arrive lacking readiness skills and then attend underfunded schools, minority kids lose more genuine instruction time to teachers who sacrifice teaching to drillApologists for the Bush administration’s corporate “accountability” approach to public education will dismiss these writers as identity politics whiners. Yet the authors advance their arguments with almost as many charts and graphs as Ross Perot used in his failed campaign to win the 1992 presidential nomination. They also stand on a ruling handed down by Federal District Judge Ed Prado, whom President Bush recently advanced from federal district court in San Antonio to the Fifth Circuit. In 2000, the year that George W. Bush became president, Judge Prado agreed with plaintiffs’ claims that the state’s standardized testing program had an adverse effect on minority students. Then he ruled that federal law offered the minority plaintiffs no remedy. Reading the final chapter I’m left with the impression that Valenzuela took the pulse of the Texas Legislature and headed for a friendlier climate in California. Hidden in the hard-ass agenda advanced by Republican House Public Education Committee Chair Kent Grusendorf, and underwritten by San Antonio right-wing moneyman James Leininger, is a scheme to privatize as much of public education as possible. “Let consumer choice concepts rule,” Grusendorf says \(in Valenzuela’s regulation. It’s called the market.” It’s worked for soybean futures and energy derivatives. Maybe it will work for one of the largest commodities on the market in the state of Texas: our children. Lou Dubose is a former editor of the Observer and author with Jan Reid of Hammer: Tom DeLay, God, Money and the Rise of the Republican Congress. 28 THE TEXAS OBSERVER OCTOBER 7, 2005