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Why Rick Perry’s Grades Don’t Matter

August 20, 2011

I don’t support Rick Perry. While he has a relatively strong economic stance, and I agree with his view of abortion and even immigration, his actions with regard to the death penalty (vetoing executing mentally retarded inmates and executing Cameron Todd Willingham who very likely was innocent), mandating the hpv vaccine and attempting to create the Trans Texas Corridor (which would have resulted in a HUGE land grab of private property) are too objectionable to be ignored.

However, one issue I DON’T have with him is his grades. Yes, I know he got a lot of C’s and D’s. Yes I know that Texas A&M is not Harvard and yes, I know that his degree is in animal husbandry. None of that matters and here is why.

His C’s and D’s Are Equivalent to Your B’s

The people who look at his grades and scoff fail to realize this. Rick Perry went to college in 1968 and graduated in 1972. This was back when only the brightest went to college and even then, more people got C’s than A’s or B’s. Of course, that’s not true now. Gradeinflation.com can give us an idea what happened between then and now:
variability in grading, US Colleges, 1920-2006
Basically, a 2.6 G.P.A. in 1970 is easily equivalent to a 3.2 today. And he got those grades competing against the best and brightest of his peers – back then, half of all high school students didn’t go to college, while now, that figure is below thirty percent:
College Enrollment rates of recent high school graduates age 16 to 24, october 1959-2009

Texas A&M is a Good School

Texas A&M is not Harvard. However, it IS a well-respected, rigorous school that turns out well-educated students. It is consistently ranked as one of the Nation’s top ranked public universities and is physically one of the largest universities in the country (5200 acres – can your school claim that?). It is also traditionally more selective than average for its student acceptance.

Also, the fact that this school is not Harvard is a good thing. Bush and Obama were both Harvard alumni and, given their general approval ratings, many in the country would view a different college in a friendlier light than may have previously been the case.

No One is Going to Compare His Transcripts to Obama’s Invisible Ones

When saying his grades are poor, one question becomes inevitable – compared to what? We can’t say compared to Obama’s grades because we don’t have them. You can’t just compare overall scores – you have to compare classes. Yes, he got a D in organic chemistry – is that compared to Obama’s chemistry scores or his class on women’s studies? We don’t know because we have never actually seen his transcripts. We know where he went to college, what degrees he had and pretty much nothing else.

And every time someone brings up Perry’s Grades, someone else will be sure to bring up Obama’s refusal to provide his. This BEGS the question, what is he hiding?

Job Performance Trumps School Grades Every Time

Q: What do you call the guy who graduates last in his class in medical school? A: Doctor.
When was the last time you got hired based on your grades? If ever, it was the first time you got hired for a position in your field. Once you establish a work history, your grades become essentially meaningless. This is true for EVERY field of employment from history to medicine. And it includes politics as well. What politician has lost an election solely because of poor grades? Did it stop Gore? Bush? Kerry? Kennedy? Reagan? You want a recent president with good grades, you have to go to Clinton and Nixon. Good grades are the EXCEPTION not the norm for our politicians. This is actually the reason Obama has to hide his transcripts and Perry doesn’t. Perry has a boatload of experience governing, while Obama is STILL learning on the job. Anyone who is going to judge Perry is going to look at his job performance NOT his grades.

Of course, his tenure in government DOES leave areas to criticize. This is where the focus will be. This is where the focus SHOULD be. This is what makes sense. Quibbling about his grades is a non issue.

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