Stop the School Yard Bullies on the SBOE

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I'm exactly the kind of person who should have known about what's been developing at the Texas State Board of Education regarding textbook curriculum.

I'm a product of the public schools of Texas, I have two children in public schools and another who recently graduated from a public high school, and I'm politically active. Yet, like many of my fellow Texans, I just haven't paid close enough attention to what many would consider to be a not-so-glamorous elected panel.

So thanks to Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and just about every other working comedian, I am now more than just aware of the ludicrous actions regarding textbook selections being undertaken by the SBOE; I'm fired up.

At first I thought I was seeing yet another round of the ongoing racism we still haven't completely evolved from in our great state, but I quickly came to realize the SBOE actions go way beyond racism. Their plans are much more pervasive and actually affect school children all over the country.

In short, members of the SBOE are systematically engaging in an extreme ideological agenda in an effort to skew history, science, literature, and any other area of study they can come across, to fit their own narrow views and beliefs. I would call it Orwellian, but that would be an insult to George Orwell. And the SBOE would probably try to ban his books from Texas public schools if they haven't already thought of it.

Members of the SBOE are free to believe anything they want, but when they start forcing their beliefs on the rest of us using the very textbooks my children and many of your children (or nephews, nieces, cousins, friends…) are being taught from, then they've crossed the line. So we have to stop these school yard bullies!

Thankfully, State Representative Richard Peña Raymond has started the Thomas Jefferson Movement to stop the SBOE from succeeding with their agenda. http://thomasjeffersonmovement…

The online organization, named for just one of the many great Americans who are being historically revised by the SBOE, has been formed to educate, inform and mobilize the vast majority of Texans who disagree with the current SBOE members' radical views.

Additionally, the Thomas Jefferson Movement, in the spirit of Jefferson himself, will be a forum for open, honest discourse on the subject. The site is built on a Ning platform and allows for anyone who doesn't cross the line into hate speech and extreme profanity to express their points of view for or against the SBOE. But make no mistake, the creators of the site do not agree with the current majority on the SBOE. Neither do the majority of Texans.


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  1. Brian in Lake Highlands on

    write your rep
    This whole episode has so embarrassed and frustrated me as a Texan, parent, and taxpayer.

    It also has me feeling pretty helpless.  I wrote to my state Rep (Alan Vaught) and Senator (John Carona), as they both seem like level-headed sorts interested more in good governance than in scoring political or ideological points.  I don't know what they can do about it at this point – but something needs to be done to stop this foolishness before these standards are officially adopted.  God knows our governor isn't going to do anything to stop it.

    Defeating the ideologues on the Board in November will be important, but we need to put in place a better system so that a young earth creationist (McLeroy) has no say over what is in our education standards or textbooks.  Joining the national standards being developed would be a fantastic step forward.

  2. Elect good people!
    Of course we should continue to resist the efforts of this year's SBOE, and the TJ Movement is a good thing, but there are limits to what we can do. The bad guys have a clear agenda and they have the votes to do a lot of damage this year.

    Fortunately, there are three elections this November that will vastly impact the next SBOE.

    Two are for the SBOE itself, where districts 5 (Rebecca Bell-Metereau vs. Ken Mercer) and 10 (Judy Jennings vs. Republican TBD) look to be very competitive. If Rebecca and Judy win those two races, and if the other districts go as expected, the new SBOE will have a solid sensible majority, including 7 solid Democrats plus three reasonable Republicans, versus only four hard-right social conservative Republicans. (The 15th member, newly elected Republican George Clayton, is hard to peg. I like what I've heard from him so far, but I'll treat him as a wild card until we see him in action.)

    The third essential race is for governor. The governor appoints the chair of the SBOE from among its members. The governor appoints the head of the TEA. Is there any doubt that Bill White's appointments would be far better than Rick Perry's?

    So please, Please, PLEASE help Judy Jennings, Rebecca Bell-Metereau and Bill White! Our kids' education depends on it.

    After the elections, we can look at the next legislative session. A lot of legislators, of both parties, are fed up with the SBOE's antics, and some reform is likely to pass. But it's way too early to tell what that will look like.  

  3. VOTE!
     Many people do not know what the SBOE is or what it does. The SBOE decides on curriculum standards  ( known as the TEKS) for Texas public schools, and approves textbooks that are aligned to the curriculum standards.  This determines what teachers must teach, and what students learn, and what will be tested on the TAKS test. Because Texas is such a large textbook market, and because publishers don't like putting out multiple versions, the books approved in Texas are often the only choices for other states as well.

    Unlike most states, Texas chooses it's state school board in partisan elections. Low voter turnout has allowed the extremists to come within one seat of dominating the SBOE. Luckily we have a chance to change that in the 2010 elections.

    As an educator, I'm overjoyed that Judy Jennings is running in District 10, and Rebecca Bell-Metereau is running in District 5. They need our support and our votes!

  4. Shameless plug
    On April 7, the Texas Chautauqua series will feature a debate between Prof. Dan Bonevac and me on the question:

    Are the K-12 social studies standards being recommended by the Texas State Board of Education reasonable?

    The debate will be from 4:15-5:30 in the AVAYA Auditorium on the UT campus (ACES 2.302).  

  5. Mike Chapman on

    Join the Thomas Jefferson Movement

    Unfortunately the members of the SBOE we need to influence the most are somewhat immune to points of view, so we're going to have to organize, raise money, and take them on directly.

    Please join The Thomas Jefferson Movement at Invite your friends, social networks, neighbors and family. Give a small donation if you can. Visit the Action Center for a list of everything you can do. http://thomasjeffersonmovement

    Together we can ensure that our kids get all the information and education they deserve and that our society needs them to have.  

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