Close to half of Texas' ninth graders could not pass the state's end of course exam for basic writing.
It's a fact worthy of alarm and a figure certain to draw legislative action in the months to come.
Dan Patrick of Houston now chairs the Texas Senate's Education Committee and believes allowing the formation of a new wave of quasi-independent charter schools is part of a formula for improvement.
"We don't have time for evolution in our public schools. We need a revolution," said Patrick.
Patrick has the backing of Lt. Governor David Dewhurst who views lifting the state's cap on the number of charters as opening a vital escape route for kids trapped in schools where they are failing.
"Having a choice means giving children a chance," said Dewhurst.
The push in Austin was welcome news at Houston's Harmony Public Schools, a charter generating high test scores with a mostly low-income student body.
"We feel with the cap being raised it will give an opportunity for other charters and other innovative ways of educating students to surface," said Julie Norton, Harmony's spokeswoman.
But critics claim a wave of new charters will suck millions of scarce tax dollars away from traditional public schools.
Former University of Houston Dean of Education Bob Wimpelberg calls it a gamble, suggesting charter success stories like KIPP, YES Academy and Harmony have been among the Texas exceptions and hardly the rule.
"We are talking about 80 percent that may or may not be as good as their public school counterparts," estimated Wimpelberg.