As you know, lawmakers have filed a slew of bills that would rein in the authority of the Texas State Board of Education. Next week one of the most important bills will get a hearing in the Senate Education Committee.
Senate Bill 2275 by Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, would strip the state board of authority over approving curriculum standards and textbooks (among other things). The bill would shift that authority to the state’s education commissioner. It also requires the commissioner to establish teams of educators and content experts to develop standards and review textbooks for approval.
TFN strongly supports this bipartisan legislation, which the Senate Education Committee will consider at a hearing on Tuesday (April 14). Two other Republicans — Sen. Kip Averitt of Waco and Sen. Jeff Wentworth of San Antonio — and Democratic Sen. Rodney Ellis of Houston have signed on to the bill as co-authors.
It’s clear that lawmakers from both major political parties are tired of seeing the state board thumb its nose at the Legislature. For example, the board regularly stretches (or ignores) limits lawmakers have put on its ability to edit and reject textbooks. In addition, last year the board adopted vague guidelines for public school Bible classes, ignoring instructions from lawmakers to adopt specific standards that protect the religious freedom of students in the classroom. Last year the board threw out years of work by language arts educators and curriculum specialists, instead passing curriculum standards a handful of board members patched together the night before the final vote. And last month the board ignored overwhelming opposition from the science community — including Nobel laureates — by adopting science curriculum standards creationists will use to force publishers to dumb down instruction on evolution in new science textbooks.
TFN Insider will keep you updated about lawmakers’ progress on SB 2275. Click here for a list of all legislation TFN is following at the Capitol. You can also stay informed by clicking here to join a TFN Rapid Response Team and subscribe to TFN Daily News Clips.