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Fort Worth Mayor Candidate Gets Heat For Grad Remark

By Jason Allen, CBS 11 News
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Arlington Heights High School in Fort Worth. (credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Arlington Heights High School in Fort Worth. (credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Fort Worth mayoral candidate Cathy Hirt is drawing fire for claiming only about half of high school students in the city actually graduate.

Hirt made the statement first during a forum broadcast on TXA 21 Tuesday.

“47 percent of the students who enter public high school in Fort Worth, will not graduate,” she said.

The statistic showed up again in a campaign flier that started appearing in thousands of Fort Worth mailboxes this week.

That mailer got the attention of the school district and board members.

“It stood out to me right away,” said board member Judy Needham. “I knew it wasn’t 47 percent, it’s a lie.”

State records show the four-year graduation rate at Fort Worth ISD is 76 percent.

The number climbs above 80 percent when you include students who go through continuing education after high school or get their GED.

Needham said the district deserves a retraction, and an apology.

“I feel personally the city’s got enough problems that she should tune to those and not put out the misinformation.”

Hirt’s campaign manager said the 47-percent statistic came from simply dividing the number of graduating students in 2009, by the number of freshmen who started in 2005.

It did not account for students who moved or left the district.

However, Hirt and her campaign stood by the statistic, adding that students who are leaving should be part of the conversation about improving education.

“From a mayor’s point of view, we need an educated workforce,” she said Wednesday.

“So when you look at a number like that, it begins to start to spark concern.”

The school district told CBS 11 it didn’t want to become involved in a political campaign, but called Hirt’s add ‘erroneous’ and contacted the campaign about changing the information.

Fort Worth has improved its graduation rates the last two years after falling to 72-percent in 2007.

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