Texas is Last in High School Graduation, First in Hazardous Waste, and Other Depressing Tidbits from a New Legislative Report

Thumbnail image for perry cover.jpg
Image by Jesse Lenz
He sure is proud of ... something.
The Texas Legislative Study Group is a caucus of around 50 Democratic representatives from the Texas House, and they're real buzzkills. The LSG keeps a full-time staff of policy analysts around, who almost every year since 2003 have released a report called "Texas on the Brink," detailing all the most depressing statistics our state has to offer, mainly in the arenas of environment, public health, and overall quality of life. In 2011, for example, the LSG reported that Texas had the highest birth rate, "the worst rate of women with health insurance, and the worst rate of pregnant women receiving prenatal care in the first trimester," per the Texas Tribune. Two years ago, we also did real, real bad on high school graduation rates, as well as mental health and Medicaid spending.

It's a great read. Not terrifying at all. That's why we were so excited to hear that the LSG is presenting their 2013 report to the Legislature this morning. So, how'd we stack up this year? Spoiler alert: not well.

Let's start with education, where the study found that Texas has the second highest rate in the nation of enrollment in public elementary and secondary schools. Yet we rank 43rd in spending per student at the K-12 level for those public schools (in other words, more students, but less money being spent on their education). Texas also ranks dead last in the percentage of the state population who have graduated from high school.

Outside of school, our children are also doing poorly. We now have the second highest birthrate in the nation, as well as the second highest percentage of uninsured kids. We lead the nation in both uninsured adults and uninsured elders, and rank dead last, once again, in per capita mental health spending. In average monthly WIC benefits (which go of course, to low-income women and their young children) we've somehow we've managed to rank 51st. (That's because WIC benefits are offered in Puerto Rico, which outranks us.)

Turning to the ladies, we also ranked 51st in the number of non-elderly women with health insurance, as well as in voter turnout among women. We're also last in the percentage of pregnant women who get prenatal care in the first trimester and near the bottom in the number of women who've seen a dentist in the past year, or women older than 44 who have received a mammogram. Yet we managed a relatively respectable 36th place in the number of women who were able to seek out and receive contraceptives.

In environmental issues, we rank number one in the "amount of hazardous waste generated" and first in carbon dioxide emissions. We're also in the top five for states who release a bunch of cancer-causing carcinogens into the water.

The easiest way to quibble with these statistics, because someone is bound to, would probably be to argue that they're presented by a group of Democrats, complaining about a Republican-run state. But the stats themselves come from reliable, non-partisan sources: the Kaiser Foundation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the EPA and the FBI, among others. But don't fear. There are still areas in which Texas continues to lead the nation: We're still first in executions and fourth in overall incarcerations. Our birth rate and teen birth rate are also still impressively high. Also, our bridges are very safe. Second best in the nation. So there's that.

The full report is below. Feel free to print it out, read it over and then clutch it to your chest, weeping. Or simply keep it in mind the next time Governor Rick Perry goes around touting his "economic miracles."

Texas on the Brink 2013 by DallasObserver

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60 comments
Mark Jansen
Mark Jansen

The Koch Qaeda Brothers wanted him to be president for good reason... no regulation, no education, no birth control, no minimum wage. That's pretty sick seeing that both of them took home $5 Billion in 2009, the depths of the recession, and contribute to Liberterrorist Log Cabin Think-Tanks and Wolf P.A.C.s/Political Action Committees. Only truly mentally ill peeps think they can take so much as a smirk to a shiny granite mausoleum. The rest of us just want to pass a better or at least a stable world on to our children.

Mark Jansen
Mark Jansen

And here comes more Toxic Waste 85 -90 % by volume from the Koch Qaeda Brothers Keystone XL Pipeline to a cancer outbreak near a Gulf Coast Refinery Network. And the refined products are all headed to China & India. That waste will stay in Texas though so Gov. ____head's friends get rich.

esabrina16
esabrina16

As for the pollution, well that's an unfortunate side effect of having a large petrochemical industry and if you like to know more please visit.....http://ow.ly/k6feq

Kevin Bittick
Kevin Bittick

The benefits of bordering the GULF of Mexico, Will.

Will Graham
Will Graham

r u really trying to tell me that Texas is behind MS in high school graduation?

GriffManstrong
GriffManstrong

I imagine that those figures would be less tragic if you broke the numbers down by demographics. It's not like whites and Asians are suffering from lack of graduations or teen births, and I imagine the groups I mentioned are much more likely to have insurance too. As for the pollution, well that's an unfortunate side effect of having a large petrochemical industry in the state.

I think the problem lies not with the state, but it's (shiftless, lazy, illegal) people.

time
time

Lets mandate that every student must take 2 years of the same Foreign Language in order to graduate from High School. We also end the entrance requirement of every 4 year Public University/College of a Foreign Language requirements. Just think everyone can truly attend any college. That would make Texas residents attending over the 50 percent mark.

John Haughey
John Haughey

Brandon, you can take ANY study and publish your own opinion on it. The fact the actual report comes from an obvious biased source makes everything in it useless. I bet you could get 50 Republican senators to use the same sources and make it say exactly what they want it to say.

Brandon Von Black-Fist
Brandon Von Black-Fist

You're forgetting about our American made culture to party, be dumb, dress slutty and our white parents who don't want sex ed taught in school or even have condoms passed out in high schools. The conservatism isn't just with Mexican Catholics.

Brandon Von Black-Fist
Brandon Von Black-Fist

The actual stats are from unbiased sources, they're linked at the bottom of the story.

Kevin Bittick
Kevin Bittick

Yes, maintaining a cultural identity is wonderful, but one must remember why he left his native country to begin with and not duplicate those same problems in his new country. Otherwise the two places will eventually become indistinguishable.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

OH SHIT, 2 Bomb go off at the Boston marathon.  Damn

Marcus Aurelius
Marcus Aurelius

Yes unfortunately, Mexicans are the reason for some of these numbers. I also agree with Kevin, these high dropout and pregnancy rates are the results of a poor upbringing from these traditional Mexican families who do not see the importance of an education. They just want their kids to work, have more kids, and support their family. As for the high teen pregnancy I blame the quincenera. Telling a girl that she is a woman at 15 years old is bullshit. This way of thinking is frustrating needs to fucking stop.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

Fuck this report fucking done by fucking Democrats who hate fucking republicans, wait, you already squashed that.  Damn

Texas, on the brink since 2003, when does it go over the ledge?  


If you ain't first, you're last,  Texas took Ricky Bobby too literal.

tb00
tb00

This is what happens with Rick Perry as governor for the last 900 years. Texas voters, wake up!

Efriam A. Garza
Efriam A. Garza

The problem isn't political at all. For ex. White Protestant parents are way more likely to put their daughter on the pill and buy condoms for their teenage sons. Something Hispanic-Catholic parents won't do.

Amanda Theriot
Amanda Theriot

Really wic benefits are available to Puerto Ricans??? So our US tax dollars are going to Puerto Rico... interesting..

Randall Manning
Randall Manning

Free to fire, no state income tax, no specific rules on over time ... it's so friendly to business here. Health and education can suck it.

GuitarPlayer
GuitarPlayer

Yeah, blame the immigrants, not the small minded bigots in this state who elect other small minded bigots.

Clarissa Nicole
Clarissa Nicole

Yet people KEEP voting Rick Perry. News flash: republican or bust isn't the best way to vote.

Victor Warpath Gunter
Victor Warpath Gunter

Damn!..Texas last in graduation. Beat Mississippi, and Alabama for that title.

Kevin Bittick
Kevin Bittick

Since when did "policies" take the place of "personal responsibility"? I don't care what political party is in power, I think that graduating high school and not getting knocked up (or doing the knocking up) in the process is incumbent on the person and, more crucially, their families. If the families don't value these goals, the nanny state won't do much good rectifying the situation, no matter how much money is thrown at the problem.

Efriam A. Garza
Efriam A. Garza

Vic, I'm sure most of the Mexicans you are referring to were Americans. I'm talking about the Mexicans that get frustrated trying to learn algebra, grammar and US History in English.

Liesl Beneke McQuillan
Liesl Beneke McQuillan

Wow. Instead of taking responsibility for failed policies, the nuts come out and blame the poor. Nice.

Victor Warpath Gunter
Victor Warpath Gunter

Well you can't blame the Mexicans in the States because most of the ones I knew in El Paso were more than intelligent. One of Romney big money PAC Guys was a Billionaire from Texas who wanted the rights to dump his waste on the Western part of the State. So I know that's true.

PersistentID2345
PersistentID2345

Texas, on the brink of granting amnesty so that more illegals can arrive to undercut the wages of the ones granted amnesty; to the further detriment of most of the statistics cited in this article.

observist
observist topcommenter

@GriffManstrong   For example, infant mortality is only tragic if it's white babies dying.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@tb00 Put a candidate that isn't twice as kooky the other way and you have a shot at ousting Perry

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@Amanda Theriot Got news for you genius, Puerto Rico is part of the United States.  They're US citizens from birth, got rights and everything!  Sounds like you might be a product of the education system in the article.

PersistentID2345
PersistentID2345

@GuitarPlayer Who are the bigots? The ones that gather the reliable, non-biased statistics on hispanic drop out rates and teen pregnancies? Explain please. The State leadership is a bunch of bigots because if the increased hispanic rates? How are the two related? Explain yourself in some sort of cohesive manner. Thanks in advance.

GriffManstrong
GriffManstrong

Uh, no, infant mortality sounds like the perfect fix for teen and unwed pregnancy right?

Check your privilege.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@Anna_Merlan for real, Perry's piece is as big a Ann Richards' was

GuitarPlayer
GuitarPlayer

@PersistentID2345

The facts are that most people getting Government assistance in this state are WHITE. The mostly White State legislature won't fund programs because they don't want to help minorities. Your fucking  "increased hispanic rates" is a red herring and a straw man. Get truthful or get off the train you asshole.

fistofsouth
fistofsouth

@RTGolden1 @GuitarPlayer @PersistentID2345 I've got one; the largest racial group in this state is still..wait for it..WHITE  White folks should top most stat by pure numbers as we have the numbers.

Now GuitarPlayer, explain how it is that you propose speak from on high regarding race when you don't know what you;re fucking talking about?   HISPANIC is an ethnicity NOT A RACE.  90% of the Valley is white, but they are also Hispanic.

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