Texas Governor Rick Perry has been caught with some Texas-sized whoppers before – remember when he fudged figures on border crime to make it look like he had done something to improve security? – but his latest fuzzy math has even members of his own party shaking their heads. Rick Perry’s imaginary Texas, where high school drop out rates are 10 percent instead of 30 percent, would make them feel “a lot better.”
Politicians running for re-election are generally afforded some leeway on accuracy.
After all, similar to drinking while driving, speaking while stumping has been associated with any number of side-effects, from impaired judgment to short-term memory loss to feelings of grandiosity.
Campaign rhetoric is usually judged in this context. But, occasionally, the whopper spewed from the candidate’s lips, or those of a spokesman, is so big, it can’t be ignored. And it might be dangerous to do so.
Such was the case last week with Gov. Rick Perry and his spokesman, who claimed, despite voluminous evidence to the contrary, that Texas’ dropout problem isn’t that big of a deal.
In the face of years of research showing the rate upwards of 30 percent, and as high as 50 percent in some large urban districts, Perry’s camp insisted it was only about 10 percent.
“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,” Perry spokesman Mark Miner told the Chronicle’s Gary Scharrer.
The number prompted laughter from a few, including Republican state Rep. Rob Eissler, chair of the House public education committee.