Arne Duncan: ‘I Feel Very, Very Badly’ for Kids in Rick Perry’s Texas Schools

Aug 18, 2011 3:08pm

ABC News’ Devin Dwyer (@devindwyer) reports:  

Obama Education Secretary Arne Duncan has taken aim at Texas Gov. Rick Perry for what he describes as the abysmal quality of education in the state’s public schools.

“Far too few of their high school graduates are actually prepared to go on to college," Duncan tells Bloomberg TV’s Al Hunt of Texas in an interview set to air tomorrow. "I feel very, very badly for the children there."  

Texas ranks 43rd among states for high school graduation rate, according to the Legislative Budget Board’s 2010 Texas Fact Book.  Slightly more than 61 percent of students graduate each year.    

“You have seen massive increases in class size. You’ve seen cutbacks in funding. It doesn’t serve the children well. It doesn’t serve the state well. It doesn’t serve the state’s economy well. And ultimately it hurts the country,” he says.   

Duncan attributes the conditions to Perry’s policies during his decade-long tenure as governor, including a more-than-$4-billion cut to public school funding in the state’s most recent budget.

Perry, long been an outspoken critic of federal education standards, has rejected participation in Obama’s Race to the Top initiative, which he has said “could very well lead to the ‘dumbing down’ of the rigorous standards we’ve worked so hard to enact.”

Perry spokesman Mark Miner criticized Duncan’s comments, telling Bloomberg, “The president’s secretary of education may want to do a little more homework before commenting on education in Texas.”

“Under Governor Perry, Texas has been a national leader in adopting college and career-ready curriculum standards that will ensure Texas students graduate prepared to succeed in college and the workplace,” he said.

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