A couple of weeks ago, I saw this Houston Chronicle article about the state of education in Texas. (The article is in their archives by now; you'll have to register.) It's rather frightening:
...between one-fourth and one-third of Texas students leave school before graduating. Texans must be grateful the rate is not higher.
In urban areas such as Houston, the dropout rate climbs to 50 percent. For black, Hispanic and low-income students of any race or ethnicity, according to Eileen Coppola, a researcher with Rice University's Center for Education, the rate climbs to 60 percent.
I had no idea the problem was that bad. That means that a majority of the poor don't even get a high-school education. It's hard enough getting by with just a HS degree, and these kids won't even have that.
Now, I don't actually know this for a fact, but it wouldn't surprise me one bit that a big factor of whether a kid finishes his education is whether his parents did. That means that this low dropout rate will echo into future generations, possibly creating a semi-permanent underclass.
One of the big things that President Bush did while in office is get the No Child Left Behind Act passed. I believe that is at least partly based on the changes he made in the Texas educational system while he was governor. Just something to think about.