Bill White Challenges Rick Perry: What's Happening to Texas Students?

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In the 3,413 days of Rick Perry's decade of failure as Texas' Governor, he has failed to adequately address Texas' high school dropout crisis.

Over the last several months, Bill White has campaigned across Texas introducing himself and talking about the need for Texas' elected officials to seriously fix the problem. During the course of campaigning, White takes dead aim at Rick Perry for ignoring the dropout crisis for nearly a decade. Since his remarks change from place to place, I wanted to point to the press release from April 6 which set the message clear and simple: “White challenges Perry: What's happening to Texas students?”

The economic effects are significant for all Texans. A person who does not complete high school can expect to earn hundreds of thousands of dollars less over the course of a lifetime than a person with a high school education. Each class of dropouts is estimated to cost the state and its economy billions of dollars.

“Our state's economic future depends on the workforce we're educating today, and we can't afford to let students slip through the cracks,” said Bill White.

Bill White is a problem-solver. As he raises the critical issue of dropouts across the state, he offers his own solutions — and can point to specific experiences where, as Mayor of Houston, he took direct action to take on the dropout crisis:

As mayor, White and his wife Andrea helped start Expectation Graduation, a program designed to cut high school dropout rates. Alongside hundreds of community volunteers, they went door to door to find young people who did not return to high school for the fall semester in an annual reach out to dropouts.

To date the efforts have brought back more than 8,800 high school students in the Houston area. Because of its success, the program has been repeated in communities across Texas including Dallas, Forth Worth, San Antonio, Corpus Christi and El Paso.

Combine his conversations about the State Board of Education — another education issue — with his ones about dropouts, and it's a major message push. Especially when you consider how the success of Texas' future is largely dependent on the future success of our children in school. It may not be as sexy to swoon over as, say, Rick Perry's $250,000 vanity plate or Rick Perry threatening to raise an army against America — but it's certainly more important and more relevant to the real issues facing Texans.

Fortunately, Bill White's message is being heard across Texas — even if the Austin echo chamber occassionally misses it. The following is an incomplete list of 19 press stories from every corner of the state talking about Bill White's campaign, his focus on education and dropouts, and how Rick Perry is struggling to come up with any real solutions to this major Texas issue:

  Headline / Link  Source
3-27 Candidates see state of education differently
3-27 In Austin, Bill White addresses SBOE curriculum standards  News 8 Austin
4-7 White, Perry dispute scope of dropout issue San Antonio Express-News
4-7 White criticizes governor for dropout rate during Valley stop
McAllen Monitor
4-7 Bill White brings attention to school dropout rate Beaumont Enterprise
4-7 TribBlog: Drop-Out Throw-Down! Texas Tribune
4-7 Texas Dropouts: Vroom-vroom vs. Gloom-and-doom Texas Observer
4-8 Perry: Texas should move to online textbooks
4-8 White hits Perry's record on education Dallas Morning News
4-10 White calls for Perry to clear up state's dropout rates News 8 Austin
4-12 Falkenberg: Whopper is too big to let pass Houston Chronicle
4-15 Democratic gubernatorial candidate brings election campaign to Lufkin Lufkin Daily News
4-15 Bill White on High School Drop-Out Rates KVII Amarillo
4-17 Bill White derides Texas education board's actions Dallas Morning News
4-19 White and Perry disagree on high school completion rates Midland Reporter-Telegram
4-25 Democratic gubernatorial candidate brings campaign to abilene Abilene Reporter News
4-25 White visits Odessa American Online
4-26 On campaign trail, former Houston mayor is in unfamiliar territory Houston Chronicle
4-26  White jabs at Perry over dropout rate Dallas Morning News

If you see more stories on this across Texas, please leave a note in the comments or e-mail them to BOR:

And the next time you encounter anyone trying to talk to you about Bill White's message, or how his campaign isn't doing enough to define himself, remind them about the list above — but more importantly, remind them about what each candidate is talking about. Bill White wants to focus on finding solutions to the challenges facing Texas so he can move our state forward. Rick Perry is meeting with Fox News personalities and campaigning for out-of-state Republicans in his quest to become a force in the 2012 Republican Presidential primary.

Only one of the candidates cares about Texas — Bill White. As he gets the message out, help him get the message out — learn how to get involved and stay involved.

Previously on BOR:


About Author

Phillip Martin

Currently the Research and Policy Director for Progress Texas and the Texas Research Institute, Phillip Martin writes occasional long-form pieces for BOR that promote focused analysis and insight into Texas politics. Born and raised in Austin, Phillip started working in politics in 2003 and started writing on BOR in the summer of 2005. Phillip has worked for the Texas Democratic Trust, the Texas Legislative Study Group, and now the Progress Texas family. He is a lifelong Houston Astros fan, a loyal Longhorn, and loves swimming at Barton Springs Pool.


  1. TexianPolitico on

    Decade of failure
    Amen to that! Things in Texas have been like Hell on Earth here for the last 10 years. That's why everyone is moving out of the state and our unemployment rate is one of the highest in the nation. Give me Michigan any day! Those people know how to really run a state.  

  2. Bill White talks a good game but
    below is a quote from a report from HISD. “Ever since the graduating class of 2004 drop out rates have been steadily increasing while completion rates are decreasing”.  BW's efforts don't seem to be working.  BW was mayor during this time.  But like a good D he has no shame

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