More than 22,620 Texas secondary students who stopped showing up for class in 2008 were excluded from the state's dropout statistics because administrators said they were being home-schooled, according to Texas Education Agency figures.
But that's where the scrutiny of this growing population seems to end, leaving some experts convinced that schools are disguising thousands of middle and high school dropouts in this hands-off category.
While home-schooling's popularity has increased, the rate of growth concentrated in Texas' high school population is off the chart: It's nearly tripled in the last decade, including a 24 percent jump in a single year.
"That's just ridiculous," said Brian D. Ray, founder of the National Home Education Research Institute. "It doesn't sound very believable."
No, it doesn't sound very believable.
No more so than Rod Paige's "Texas Miracle" back during the Bush days that claimed the achievement gap between white students and minority students had been narrowed by his business-style education reforms.
Those claims turned out to be bullshit too.
In point of fact, Paige and Texas just didn't count drop-outs in their stats.
That certainly helped with the graduation rate data and it helped to show the achievement gap had narrowed.
But it was fake, false, a load of horseshit.
Just like the "accountability movement" that Paige and Bush were promoting through No Child Left Behind.
Of course we have left all that behind with the current administration of President Accountability and his secretary of education, Arne Duncan, who claims his own "Chicago Turnaround" miracle for the reason why Chicago-style accountability reforms - including teacher pay tied to test scores, teacher evaluations tied to test scores, and the lowest performing schools turned over to for-profit charter operators like the non-profit started by the guy who runs diploma-mill Devry University - are being forced on states all over the country.
Oh, wait, we haven't left behind the accountability movement or No Child Left Behind-style reform at all.
Actually we're getting it in triplicate from the current regime in Washington.
And they're basing it on Duncan's Chicago Miracle data.
But of course the Chicago Miracle is bullshit too - just like the Houston Miracle was.
But it's going to be replicated all over the country by President Accountability and his little basketball buddy at the Education Department and by the time the evidence becomes clear just how horseshit all these reforms are, the total damage to public education will be complete.
And the guy from Devry University - or guys just like him in the for-profit education world - will be running entire urban school systems.