Who’s an ‘Expert’? Anyone!

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We have already documented the contempt many Texas State Board of Education members have for expertise in making decisions on curriculum standards. We noted one example Thursday, when far-right board members rejected any more formal input from teachers and academics on proposed new social studies curriculum standards. On Friday Thursday the board also weakened the role of experts in textbooks adoptions.

The textbook approval process includes convening review teams (teachers, academics and other community members) that check proposed textbooks to make sure they conform to curriculum standards and are free of factual errors. The board also appoints “experts” to advise its own members. A proposed rule this week defined “experts” as “university professors but also public school teachers with a strong background in a particular discipline.” That made sense to us.

But that definition didn’t appear inclusive enough for Don McLeroy, R-College Station. So on his recommendation, the board on Friday voted to expand the criteria for the “expert” panel to include business and industry folks, parents and other community members. Essentially, then, anybody can be an expert, regardless of their credentials.

Of course, McLeroy made his contempt for expertise very clear this past spring, declaring that “somebody’s got to stand up to experts!” And this summer he explained the board’s standard for choosing experts to curriculum panels: “If two (board) members think they’re qualified, they’re qualified.” That’s how we got absurdly unqualified people like David Barton and Peter Marshall on a social studies “expert” panel (alongside real experts with real credentials).

Now at McLeroy’s insistence, the board is effectively dropping any real standards for choosing experts who will advise them on what textbooks our children use in their public schools. That doesn’t just make it easier for board members to politicize public school classrooms. It’s also another big step in dumbing down our kids’ education.

13 Responses to “Who’s an ‘Expert’? Anyone!”

  1. Leigh Johnson Says:

    *Sigh*

    It’s awfully hard to feel optimistic about our efforts when the SBOE keeps doing %^&$$^ like this…

  2. Charles Says:

    I think this is the same line of thinking that Sarah Palin used. She could see Russia from some window, so that made her an expert on foreign policy.

  3. PHarvey Says:

    Texas Legislature, …are you listening?

  4. KateNonymous Says:

    Well, sure. Because I’ve known for quite some time that anyone who has, say, been alive is automatically a social studies expert.

  5. Cheryl Shepherd-Adams Says:

    Might the SBOE’s bastardization of expertise come back to bite them in the butt?

    For some reason, I’m reminded of Kitzmiller v. Dover, where the school board rode roughshod over the recommendations of (true) experts. IIRC, the judge in that case noted that blatant disregard for expertise.

  6. Doc Bill Says:

    Remember, McLeroy also said on video that the “argument from authority,” i.e. experts, was the “strongest” argument that could be made.

    Hypocrite? No, garden variety moron. McLeroy just opens his pie hole and Grade A FDA Choice Nonsense spews out. I believe that McLeroy has no more control over this than a moron has over drool.

    (Hey, I am being charitable!)

  7. Tony Whitson Says:

    Thanks, TFN

    This is a really important point. I’m going to need to find it in the archives.

    If possible, it would be a really big help to me if any time there’s something you see significant enough to write about, you could make a note of the agenda item number and the time of day when it came up in the session. Do you have that information for this?

    I finally have the files and links up for the Wed. and Thurs. sessions at
    https://tw-curricuwiki.wikispaces.com/TX_SBOE_Social_Studies_2009_November
    so now I can start working on the substantive commentaries.

    Again, Thanks.

  8. TFN Says:

    Tony,
    Oops. We should have said the board made these changes to the textbook adoption process on Thursday, not Friday. I think it was Item 8 on the Thursday agenda. Mark Grayson at SixRedMarbles has a good blow-by-blow look at specific actions the board took last week.

  9. Fastus Starbolt Says:

    The textbooks should have an entire chapter devoted to why socialism should be banned from.

  10. Charles Says:

    I see that Fastus Starbolt needs to do some studying up on socialism. He has bought into the radical right’s notion that we are becoming a socialist country.

    Don’t believe everything Rush says because he is a “big, fat …” We won’t be a socialist country until the government confiscates McDonalds and the tire and brake shop where you work. I and most other sane Americans see Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid as goodhearted American neighbors pitching in some tax dollars to help our less fortunate neighbors—like the Bible says for us Christians and just to be an altruistic neighbor for those who are not religious. And for all of you Southern Baptists out there who have sat through a sermon on Stewardship Sunday, you are not just supposed to give. The Lord requires you to give sacrificially of the first fruits—or as the pastor puts it—GIVE UNTIL IT HURTS. Most of us are not inclined to give like that, so the IRS helps us out a little bit in our holy or altruistic duties.

    Please tell me you are not stupid enough to think that if Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid did not exist, the federal government would give back to you all of those tax dollars that they collect. Republicans, Democrats, or Purple People Eaters, they would just find something else to spend them on, and it would probably all go down some rat hole like colonization of Uranus.

    You see. Congress is charged primarily with making laws and appropriating tax dollars for various federal purposes. That’s just their constitutional job description. Like everyone who works at a job, they don’t want to be accused of laying around on their sorry butts and doing nothing, like that lazy guy you fired down at the tire and brake shop last week. The problem is that to do something—anything—about all they are allowed to do is pass laws and spend money. The constitution restricts them. “Thou Shalt Not Laws” can be fairly inexpensive, but we already have most of those bases covered, and the bucket is a running a little shallow. That means Congress has to make new programmatic laws and spend money to support them. When was the last time you voted for a Congressman who promised to DO NOTHING in office and DELIVERED ON IT. They have to do something, so they do the only thing they are allowed to do—pass laws and spend your tax dollars.

    Wake up!!!! About the only thing we can do is to influence them in how they spend that money. I would much rather those dollars go to help a sick person that to put a colony on Uranus. It’s way too cold there.

  11. Tony Whitson Says:

    My take on this is now posted here:

    http://curricublog.wordpress.com/2009/11/25/experts-standards-textbooks/

    Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1V0H-Py

  12. Steve B Says:

    It will be disheartening for anyone who thinks the lege will solve the problems on the SBOE. The ignorance and lack of concern for proper, useful educational policies among elected Representatives and Senators is not much different than that among the SBOE members — after all it was the same folks who elected both.

  13. Cytocop Says:

    Fastus Starbolt is correct that the U.S. is becoming a socialist country. However, the only socialism practiced here is for the benefit of the WEALTHY. Only the wealthiest Americans benefit from the Socialism-For-The-Rich program we have in America. Don’t believe me? Ask yourself: Who got bailed out?

    Unlike the RR and conservatives and Repubniks, I actually provide evidence for the statements I make.

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