Live-Blogging the Social Studies Hearing II

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Testimony and our live-blogging will resume after the board returns from a lunch break at 2 p.m. A live, streaming Web cast of the hearing is available here. Click on the January 13 link. SBOE Chair Gail Lowe says the board will end the hearing at 6 p.m., even if there are people still waiting to testify. Mary Helen Berlanga says she and any other board members who join her will stay until everyone has a chance to speak.

TFN Insider will continue blogging from the hearing at 2 p.m. In the meantime, please consider supporting the Texas Freedom Network and our work for sound curriculum standards for Texas public school students. We can continue our work only with your generous support. Please click here to donate.

2:10 – The hearing has resumed, with state Rep. Norma Chavez asking that students be required to learn about important Latino historical leaders, such as Cesar Chavez Irma Rangel and former congressman Henry B. Gonzalez.

2:25 – A testifier suggests that students are taught that socialism is better than capitalism, and she says that the standards promote discussions of social injustice and multiculturalism over discussions America’s accomplishments. Board member Mavis Knight asks for examples, but the testifier says she has none to give.

2:29 – Board member Mary Helen Berlanga pounces on the statement that “we shouldn’t focus on past injustices.” She asks whether that means social studies should simply ignore segregation and racial discrimination. The testifier: “I’m just saying, don’t emphasize them (past injustices).”

2:34 – Board member Rene Nunez: Would you say world history courses should ignore the Holocaust? Testifer: Well, that’s too specific of an example. “We should just stick to the facts.”

2:53 – Signs from the Tea Party “rally” (such as it was) at the Texas Education Agency today:

2:57 – A new testifier wants the standards to emphasize the 10th Amendment as limiting the power of Congress and protecting the rights of the states. He argues that U.S. government today threatens freedom. He pushes the concept of state nullification of federal laws that the state sees as unconstitutional.

3:02 – Board member David Bradley is sympathetic to the argument, of course, and notes that the federal government has no role in public education. Of course, the federal role in public education isn’t at issue today.

3:15 – Groups like the American GI Forum are out in force today, calling on the board not to downplay the contributions of Latinos in Texas and American history.

3:17 – A testifier claims that America has never conquered another land except to free a people. Really? We hear wry chuckles from the many Mexican-American members of the audience.

3:25 – Another testifier, George Scaggs, calls on the board to promote “American exceptionalism” in the standards. He suggests that it has been suggested that the word “exceptionalism” be replaced by “imperialism.” That’s entirely untrue. Does the right ever get tired of making such absurd “straw men” arguments? Of course not.

3:28 – Scaggs: People don’t flock to the shores of Somalia, Egypt and France; they come to America.

3:33 – Another testifier is critical of the proposed standards, charging that they are more appropriate for a college course in “political correctness” than a public school classroom. She goes on to say that discussions of racial oppression don’t compare to the the reality of oppression under “godless communism.”

3:36 – Dotty Griffith of the ACLU of Texas is up. She warns against using public school classrooms to preach and promote “one faith over others.”

3:40 – Another testifier: We’re teaching our children to admire socialists like Dolores Huerta. She wants to get rid of “political correctness” in the standards. Board member Mary Helen Berlanga pounces. You object to Huerta in the standards, Berlanga says, then you say public schools should be teaching about how people overcame discrimination and other suffering. Yet people like Huerta and Cesar Chavez worked to help Latinos win their rights and freedoms. She then delivers a passionate recounting of the discrimination Latinos have faced in Texas and American history. The testifier (Janie Brittain) replies: “The point is, she (Huerta) is currently a member of the socialist party. . . . Socialism isn’t about freedom. She hasn’t learned the lesson that socialism brings tyranny and not freedom.” Clearly, Berlanga’s point passed right by her.

3:50 – Nancy Hester, president of the Texas Council for the Social Studies, is up. Far-right board members in recent months have absurdly attacked the TCSS as a left-wing group. Hester speaks in support of the standards drafted by the curriculum writing teams.

3:53 – Board member McLeroy: What could be done to make history more exciting for students? Hester suggests: make history relevant to students. Of course, wouldn’t ensuring that Latino students also learn about the contributions of Latinos in history help with this? But the Tea Partiers apparently wouldn’t agree.

3:56 – It’s interesting that far-right board members didn’t choose Hester’s testimony as an opportunity to criticize TCSS again. Do they prefer just to attack when their victim can’t respond?

4:31 – Jon Roland of the Constitution Society is up. The group’s Web site argues that the federal and state governments aren’t obeying their respective constitutions. Roland appears to support the use of militias as a solution to problems like the drug trade and terrorism.

4:33 – Board member Mary Helen Berlanga has spent considerable time today trying to explain the perspective of Latinos and other minorities who have often been under-represented in teaching about social studies. We wonder whether her statements are falling on deaf ears.

4:50 – Most television reporters left hours ago, but the press table is still full of print reporters.

5:04 – State Rep. Wayne Christian sent a statement to be read to the board. The right-wing Texas lawmaker writes that he is concerned that students aren’t getting an adequate social studies education. He suggests that public schools are ignoring instruction on important parts of American history to avoid offending people elsewhere, but he offers no examples of anything like that actually happening. Are you surprised?

5:12 – Brian Thevenot at the Texas Tribune looks at the debate over diversity during the SBOE social studies hearing today. Check it out.

5:16 – Rosa Rosales, national president of the League of United Latin American Citizens, is finishing her testimony. Ms. Rosales called on the state board to ensure that the contributions of Latinos in Texas and American history are included in the curriculum standards.

5:31 – Karen Gross of the Anti-Defamation League-Southwest Region is up. The ADL message is clear: protect the religious freedom of all children in public schools by not promoting religious views and one faith over all others in social studies classrooms.

5:53 – SBOE District 5 candidate Rebecca Bell-Metereau is testifying now. She notes her concerns about under-representations of women and minorities in the standards and efforts to promote religion in social studies classrooms.

5:57 – Board member Barbara Cargill asks where the standards drafts promote religion. Bell-Metereau notes that the drafts don’t do that — right now. In fact, the point of many testifiers today is that they don’t want the board to politicize the standards as they did in language arts and science.

6:10 – The board is closing today’s testimony. SBOE Chair Gail Lowe notes that Gov. Rick Perry today made an announcement on federal Race to the Top funding. In fact, Gov. Perry said Texas will not seek the $700 million that would be available through that funding stream.

6:13 – The board is getting angry comments from people who waited all day to testify. They’re demanding that the board continue hearing testimony. (We sympathize. After all, the board isn’t often asked to listen to their constituents on these issues.) A motion to extend the hearing fails on a tie vote. In the chaos, it’s hard to tell how all of the board members voted. But most of the “no” votes appear to have come from the board’s far-right faction. Surprised?

6:18 – Now would-be testifiers are shouting in anger. More chaos. The chair, Gail Lowe, has to break a tie on a motion to adjourn the meeting. Could there be a clearer representation of the indifference some board members have for the concerns of their constituents?

TFN Insider will resume live-blogging during tomorrow’s board debate on the standards.

UPDATE: After adjournment, the state board’s five Democrats remained to continue listening to testimony from those who were unable to speak before the hearing ended. Many of the remaining testifiers were Latinos, some of whom had traveled from across the state to the hearing.

60 Responses to “Live-Blogging the Social Studies Hearing II”

  1. abb3w Says:

    Note for those of us looking on from elsewhere in the country, Texas 2PM Central = 3 PM Eastern = 1 PM Mountain = Noon Pacific

  2. Lorenzo Sadun Says:

    It’s sad to see so many speakers reduced to defending the draft standards against right-wing attacks, when the draft standards are themselves terrible. When “Hume” is replaced by “Moses” as an author whose writings influenced the founders, and when the right-wingers consider even that statement to be insufficiently Christian, you know we’ve got problems.

    Read the standards yourself. It’s 120 pages of detailed nonsense, from demanding that 4th graders recite and understand the meaning of the Texas pledge (which is little more than a call for separatism) to trumpeting the biblical roots of our system of government.

    The biggest problem isn’t that the standards are too right-wing (although they certainly are). It’s that the standards are micromanaged and incoherent. Instead of inviting teachers to explain the broad sweeps of history and to allow students to examine and learn from them, there is a list of names and dates and extraneous facts that must be covered in each class from kindergarten through 12th grade. Critical thinking is right out. Students aren’t expected to understand American history — they’re just expected to worship it.

    Sadly, the Left has contributed to this problem almost as much as the Right. When the Right tried to ignore such genuine American heroes as Cesar Chavez and Thurgood Marshall, the Left fought back and insisted on inclusion of even more names, regardless of context. That doesn’t help.

    American society is a tapestry, and has to be understood as such. That means paying attention to all of the different strands, but even more importantly, it means paying attention to how the strands are woven together. Sadly, we’re busy fighting over which strands to recognize, while the integration of knowledge seems to be missing from almost *everybody’s* approach.

  3. abb3w Says:

    Oh, repeating, a reminder for those trying to keep score:

    The “mainstream academic” appointments were:
    de la Teja, appointed by Nunez (D) and Berlanga (D)
    Kracht, appointed by Hardy (R) and Craig (R)
    Hodges, appointed by Knight (D) and Allen (D).

    The “not-so-mainstream” were
    Barton, appointed by Lowe(R) and Mercer(R)
    Marshall, appointed by Cargill(R) and Dunbar(R)
    Dreisbach, appointed by Leo(R) and Bradley(R)

    No experts were appointed by McLeroy (R), Miller (R), and Agosto(D) as a result of lack of agreement. McLeroy reportedly wanted Quist, who would probably qualify as “not-so-mainstream”, but couldn’t find a second. Those seeking to classify Agosto might look to here, and note he was part of the block that went along with the English Standards circus; no rumors on who he wanted as an expert.

    By my read, that breaks the factions as Democrats Nuñez-Berlanga-Allen-Knight (solidly sane) and Agosto (perhaps less solid than the best of the GOP) and Republicans Craig (solidly sane), Miller-Hardy (usually within shouting distance of sane), Lowe-Mercer-Leo-Bradley-Cargill (functionally whacko), and Dunbar-McLeroy (clearly ULTRAwhacko). Note that others may disagree as to this taxonomy, and certainly many will reject this nomenclature.

    Note ESPECIALLY that the above is NOT the official position of TFN.

  4. Charles Says:

    I object. If Gail Lowe can end the meeting at 6:00 p.m. such that many of the signed up speakers cannot speak, how do we know that she has not pushed speakers in opposition to the radical righters to the bottom of the list. Everyone who has signed up to speak and has been given a time to speak should be heard by the entire SBOE—no matter what their position on the issue might be. If Gail suffers from hypoglycemia, the answer is to bring a snack—not end the meeting. Will someone please raise hell about this?

  5. Tony Whitson Says:

    Is anybody getting the video stream. I have not been able to get anything since lunch.

  6. Tony Whitson Says:

    Solved it. I needed to refresh the TEA web page that links to the stream.

  7. Charles Says:

    I think it was right white of Donna to show up.

  8. Rebecca Bell-Metereau Says:

    Very well put, Dr. Sadun.

  9. Tony Whitson Says:

    Is Dunbar there today? I haven’t heard a peep from her.

  10. Charles Says:

    Rebecca.

    I think you need to answer Ben’s question that he asked under another thread below—or at least explain why you are not willing to answer it. This issue of “stealth candidates” and personal religion is going to come up for you again and again and again throughout the campaign—as it will with all the other candidates. I asked you this same question several months ago too, and you did not provide an answer.

    I suspect that you believe that a person’s religion should have nothing to do with providing a good and objective education for our children. That is true enough. However, other people (like Ben) will never let it rest, and it may work against you simply by default. It would be good to give it some thought because you will be cornered into dealing with it by the news media at some point.

  11. TFN Says:

    We haven’t seen Ms. Dunbar today.

  12. Charles Says:

    She’s probably teaching at Jerry’s place today.

  13. abb3w Says:

    According to the web version of the Liberty U calender, it appears faculty nominally returned for Jan 11, but classes don’t start until the 18th. Ms. Dunbar is a visiting prof with the law school who possibly is teaching a Constitutional Litigation Clinic (LAW 851) and co-teaching Foundations of Law II (Law 502).

    So, not teaching today, but perhaps getting ready to teach.

  14. Charles Says:

    It disturbs me that the only SBOE members that are really interacting with the speakers are the radical righters—except Ms. Knight. Have all of the other SBOE members on the progressive side go to sleep—or is it just resignation to the ineviable disaster that is looming.

  15. TFN Says:

    Ms. Berlanga and, on occasion, Mr. Lawrence and Mr. Agosto have been participating.

  16. Tony Whitson Says:

    TFN:

    3:56 – It’s interesting that far-right board members didn’t choose Hester’s testimony as an opportunity to criticize TCSS again. Do they prefer just to attack when their victim can’t respond?

    How can you ask that?

    Have you forgotten the session last year when one after another trashed TFN over the survey of science profs, with Kathy in the room, & Berlanga (I think) asking if the Board couldn’t invite Kathy to respond to what was being said, & being told that would be out of order.

    To recall: the main charge was that the TFN cheated by hand-picking the survey respondents. 2 problems with that: (1) there was no sampling, it was a survey of the complete population of science faculty; and (2) TFN did not conduct the survey, they commissioned it; it was conducted by a professional in that methodology.

  17. Tony Whitson Says:

    Alan Keyes !!! ???

  18. George Says:

    Agree with Charles on that last one. All the non-right wingers are dismissed without question. It’s frustrating that the board listens to so many people that don’t know what they are talking about. Socialism is not the opposite of freedom. Its an economic, not a political, concept. Loved Ms Knight’s question about indoctrination…

  19. Tony Whitson Says:

    Me:

    Alan Keyes !!! ???

    Oh, I forgot: by running as the alternative to Obama for Senator from Illinois, Keyes contributed mightily to his ascension to the White House.

  20. TFN Says:

    Tony,
    Oh, we didn’t forget. Believe me. We were thinking exactly about that. (And it was Mavis Knight who asked that Kathy be permitted to defend our research.)

  21. Cytocop Says:

    Rebecca Bell-Mereau: In a thread from a couple of days ago, you had posted this entry:

    When I am elected to serve on the State Board of Education for District 5, I will make sure the curriculum represents all people who have contributed to the history of Texas and the United States. Our young people deserve a complete and thorough history, not one limited to a handful of elite figures hand-picked by some of the current State Board of Education members. We need to keep personal politics out of education and bring the focus of the board back to the educating the children of Texas in a fair and balanced way. This is why I am running for State Board of Education, District 5.
    -Rebecca Bell-Metereau

    May I ask what exactly does the above mean? You wrote a lot without really saying anything. For example, what do you mean by “not one limited to a handful of elite figures hand-picked by some of the current State Board of Education members.”
    Please supply some examples of “a handful of elite figures.”
    Please identify “some of the current SBOE members” whom you find objectionable?

    And I request that you answer Ben’s questions. You may find me a “ranter and raver,” but regardless of your opinion of me, my questions and those of Ben are legitimate.

  22. George Says:

    Not to put words in the candidate’s mouth, but could I suggest that questions of historical and pedagogical significance could be well answered by well qualified history and education professionals, as we thought they would be at the beginning of the revision process?

  23. Charles Says:

    He meant to also say nascent sexual urges in middle school.

  24. Charles Says:

    Yeah, but if you raise a child telling him only the good things that he does, you will get a compulsive narcissicist—more widely known as A-hole.

  25. abb3w Says:

    I’d agree that Ms. Bell-Metereau probably ought to answer the questions eventually.

    However, collecting a few dog-whistles from around the web, she…
    – is a democrat
    – is discontent with how Mercer bragged about giving a “spanking” to teachers and scholars testifying before the language curriculum review committee
    – has a PhD, which (GSS database, DEGREE(4), SCITEST4) correlates well with evolution support.
    – has been posting comments for a while to the TFN blog (or someone posing as her has, anyway)
    – and her Act Blue (=begging for money) page criticizes Mercer over “culture-war battles such as undermining the teaching of evolution”

    As I am a cynic, and she is a professor in film and a Democrat, I expect in short order she will be targeted by a whispering campaign painting her as a godless Hollywood liberal radical feminist….

    Other Democratic contenders include Ingalls, who appears a “teach the controversy” type; and Boone, who doesn’t sound like one. Mercer also faces a GOP primary challenger in Tuggey, whose emphasis on listening to home-schoolers does not sound hopeful.

  26. Tony Whitson Says:

    Charles,
    Are you suggesting there’s a danger of American A-holism?

  27. Ben Says:

    I’ll repeat my post from the earlier thread…..

    Hi Rebecca.

    I’m in District 5.

    Because creationists have been known to conceal their true beliefs and opinions when campaigning, could you answer a couple of questions for me? I feel certain I know how you’ll answer these, but please humor me.

    Do you accept the theory of evolution and support its teaching in public schools?

    Do you accept the fact that the earth is billions of years old?

    Do you support the separation of church and state?

    I ask these questions because I couldn’t find the answers on your web site. If your answer is “yes” to all of the above, you might consider posting something to that effect on your site.

    Thanks.

  28. TFN Says:

    FYI: Bell-Metereau is currently at the SBOE hearing and doesn’t appear to be checking the Internet.

  29. Charles Says:

    Sorry. I’ll cool it.

    One more basic point though on this notion of “expansionism” vs “imperialism.” The radical rightists seem to think that there is some leftist political notion at work here. In reality, I think it is something historical in the field of history itself. “Expansionism” seems to have been used historically in reference to expanding one’s national boundaries by acquiring contiguous land (Russia), whereas “imperilaism” was taking control of something that is separated from your one’s own national boundary by a body of water (Great Britain and India).

    I know it’s a fine point, but I think this is what the rightist radicals are missing. This is not about ideology. It’s about historical terminology that most likely developed a very long time ago in the field of history—with no real ideological context.

  30. Tony Whitson Says:

    Re: http://tfninsider.org/2010/01/13/live-blogging-the-social-studies-hearing-ii/#comment-7376

    I think it was Bradley, not Mercer, who said teachers got spanked:
    http://curricublog.wordpress.com/2008/06/03/tx-teachers-spanked/
    shortlink: http://wp.me/p1V0H-44

  31. Duane Says:

    Skaggs said

    People are flocking to…France…”

    Obviously he hasn’t been there lately. People are flocking to France in waves, much to the chagrin of the French.

  32. Duane Says:

    Sorry, meant to say people aren’t flocking…

    (but they are)

  33. Charles Says:

    Liggett. Ms. Texas Tea Party herself.

  34. Tony Whitson Says:

    Duane,

    It’s like when Dan Quayle said in his debate that everybody everywhere else in the world wanted to be in America instead of where they are.

    I saw an interview the next day of an American who watched the debate in Paris with Parisian friends. He said he was mortified.

  35. Duane Says:

    i’ve noticed some postings on evolution. What is the status right now on that? Also does anyone know about this thing with Chavez? Is he seriously being considered to be removed?

    As far as the lady saying we teach only bad things but not good things I have to say as a history sub we teach a lot about desegregation and the freeing of African Americans, the granting of votes for women, stopping child labor, and many other good things as well.

  36. Charles Says:

    Yeah, Duane. I think the concern is that many of the radical rightests believe that the things you listed were bad things. They’d never say it to your face though.

  37. Tony Whitson Says:

    TFN: Why don’t you use tags (like “evolution”) or a search field? With either of those, Duane could easily get his answer on evolution right here on this blog.

    Anyway, the answer is that the TEKS are settled, the creationists got all the language that they need, so the crunch time will come when it’s time to review textbooks. That’s why we need new SBOE members.

  38. Tony Whitson Says:

    as examples of how “tags” work in WordPress blogs, here’s the archive on my “evolution” tag:
    http://curricublog.wordpress.com/category/evolution/

    and here’s my tag on Texas:
    http://curricublog.wordpress.com/category/education/texas-education/

  39. Ron Wetherington Says:

    I suggest everyone read Lorenzo Sadun’s point once more. He is,unfortunately, right on track: standards should be conceptual with examples, not detailed without concepts. It’s not that good teachers don’t teach well in spite of a TEKS handicap, it’s that publishers cobble together an incoherent stream-of-continuity when forced to paint by the numbers! Poor, poor Texas!

  40. Tony Whitson Says:

    What happened to Ryan Valentine? Shouldn’t he be coming up about now?

  41. TFN Says:

    Because Kathy spoke for TFN earlier today and the board plans to end the hearing at 6 p.m., Ryan gave up his spot on the list to someone who was farther down the list.

  42. Charles Says:

    Well, if it were me, I would stay there and let people speak until midnight. So much for a Democratic spirit on the SBOE. I mean. Don’t you think some things in life are more important than picking up your clothes before the dry cleaner closes at 6:00 p.m.?

  43. Lorenzo Sadun Says:

    About where things stand on evolution: The big fight last fall was, in many ways, a draw. We avoided the worst anti-evolution proposals and killed “strengths and weaknesses”, but the creationists got a lot of nasty amendments passed at the end. Most of the language in those amendments is ambiguous. Read it at face value and it’s not so bad, but read it through a right-winger’s eyes and you see permission to add all kinds of nonsense to the textbooks. That’s one reason why the 2010 election is so important. Science texts will come up for approval in 2011, and we want an SBOE that reads the standards reasonably when deciding whether books meet the standards.

    I can also vouch for Rebecca Bell-Metereau’s bone fides, and Dan Boone’s, too. (I don’t know much about Ingalls or Tuggy.) I’ll let Rebecca answer Ben’s questions in her own words, but rest assured that she and Dan are Highly Reasonable People, and not stealth wingnuts. I’ve endorsed Rebecca in the SBOE5 Democratic primary, but if Dan beats her, he’ll have my full support in the fall.

  44. Tony Whitson Says:

    Ron Wetherington Says:

    I suggest everyone read Lorenzo Sadun’s point once more. He is,unfortunately, right on track: standards should be conceptual with examples, not detailed without concepts.

    Pat Hardy should understand this. She should also understand that so long as people think that history is just “one damn thing (name, date) after another,” it’s not surprising if they don’t see Social Studies as a subject that deserves the attention that she keeps calling for.

  45. Ben Says:

    Thanks, Lorenzo.

  46. Charles Says:

    Lorenzo. I think Rebecca is a good egg too.

  47. Charles Says:

    Well, I think Ms. Lowe just succeeded in POing every Hispanic person in Texas with her closing of the meeting. Considering the demographics, every Republican leader in Texas needs to be giving her a phone call tonight and pleading for mercy because an election is coming up.

  48. abb3w Says:

    Having to strain to pass a motion to adjourn is an impressive trick. Of course, the [bleep] brigade are apparently missing Dunbar.

  49. Steven Schafersman Says:

    Tony, both Mercer and Bradley said the teachers were spanked in different articles. One was an op-ed, the other was a quote in a news article.

    Miller wanted to appoint a very good expert from SMU and was livid that neither McLeroy or Agosto would go along with her. The three are not the best of friends.

    Lorenzo, I certainly agree with your point to some extent. But I would say 120 pages of detailed information, not nonsense. Now let me disagree more. Thousands of social studies teachers and millions of students will study social studies with these standards. The “sweep of history” isn’t going to cut it. For you or me or a university student doing personal research, that would work. But in addition to teaching the millions of students about history, geography, and economics, they will have to be assessed. Are you going to write 4.7 million individual exams? These students need to be guided for the most part, not left to study history in any way they want.

    There will always be tension between a specific, guided curriculum and an open-ended, flexible one. Good students will thrive with the latter, but not most Texas students. Also, teachers need to be accountable and having specific standards makes this task easier. If you leave teacher accountability to solely principal evaluation or student performance, you are asking for trouble from other directions.

    I agree the standards are slightly conservative but they are much improved over the past. Hispanics are not slighted and ignored, this time. These standards contain much more information than I learned in high school. I think they are okay. Of course, tomorrow they will be made worse and then we’ll both have something to complain about.

  50. Rebecca Bell-Metereau Says:

    The theory of evolution should be taught without any of the “strengths and weaknesses” language, and we should not impose personal religious views on the curriculum. There may be different estimates of the age of the earth and the universe, but it is in the billions of years, certainly not in the thousands, as some have suggested. As I stated at the SBOE hearing today, public schools and the State Board of Education should respect the fundamental principle of the separation of church and state, and the curriculum, texts, and schools should not distort subjects such as biology or history by inserting private religious views into academic subjects.

  51. Charles Says:

    Right on—sorry to say—Steve.

  52. adamcolligan Says:

    As the person next in order to speak when the hearing ended, I have a few observations about what affected how things ended up:

    (1) Poor chairing throughout. A lot has obviously been made about the politics of the Board’s chairmanship, but sometimes what counts is the ability to actually run a meeting. There was little respect for time limits, even when it became clear how difficult it would be to avoid disappointing a large number of would-be testifiers, and even after an audience member pointed out early on what the average actual time being taken per speaker was. And at the end, Mx. Lowe started working through the parliamentary procedure in a truly confused and disorderly way, contributing to the chaos.

    (2) Useless grand-standing by Board members of all stripes. While members complained about the lack of specific recommendations in much of the testimony, most seemed happy to take turns picking pointless fights with speakers of all ideologies, ask embarrassingly patronizing questions to speakers who were particularly young or old, or use the microphone for just about anything other than gleaning real information relevant to the testimony.

    (3) Some truly indefensible reactions by disappointed members of the public. A speaker in mid-afternoon started this off by claiming that her position in the order paper was a reflection of how “nothing is ever easy” [paraphr.] for the Latino people, a pretty egregious and baseless allegation to make against the staff who created the list. When the meeting was being adjourned, several people started crowding around the podium and shouting “Racist!” and “We’ve been oppressed for hundreds of years!” One guy even started doing a stand-up in front of a camcorder, stating how the 6pm finish was “a disenfranchisement, not of Hispanics, but of Native Americans!”

    For some strange reason, I didn’t feel any basis for believing that they stopped right before me because of my Irish name. I was happy to put in my written testimony, and it would have been nice to have a quick, organized dialogue with anyone who would listen about the current proposal to remove of Thomas Hobbes from the curriculum in favor of Moses (US Govt.: c (1) C. ). But I wasn’t about to try to push to the microphone through an angry throng of people shouting irrational accusations. Parking is just too expensive.

    If we want to demand that a culture of respect be brought back to the Board, we have to demand it from all sides. This is why I’m happier than ever to be supporting the candidacy of Rebecca Bell-Metereau, who was not only one of the most cogent speakers in the room but has also put respect at the heart of her campaign agenda.

  53. Ben Says:

    Thanks, Rebecca. I appreciate your response. Even though you don’t say specifically that you personally accept the theory of evolution, I’m assuming you do. If I’m wrong about that, please let me know. Otherwise, thanks again.

  54. Charles Says:

    Yeah. She’s okay Ben. I think you can trust her to do the right thing. It has been obvious to me that she puts quality education (including science) on a higher level—above the fray that you and I cope with from time to time. If I lived in Texas, I would vote for her. However, you need to make your own decision about whether you would. It may be that you would prefer the other Democratic candidate or some independent that might throw their hat in the ring. I just hope all you “Texicans” can sort it out wisely.

  55. Tony Whitson Says:

    Ben says

    Even though you don’t say specifically that you personally accept the theory of evolution, I’m assuming you do.

    I’m not sure how that’s relevant. She has said

    The theory of evolution should be taught without any of the “strengths and weaknesses” language, and we should not impose personal religious views on the curriculum.

    That’s what’s important, it seems to me.

    Suppose I don’t believe in atoms and molecules. What I believe is that the world is made out of fairies, micro-fairies, and nano-fairies. Still, I understand that the natural science known as “chemistry” deals with atoms, molecules, etc., so a HS course in chemistry should initiate students into how chemists and chemical researcher think and work with atoms, molecules, etc., and without the fairies and the nano-fairies.

    Isn’t that enough?

    In fact, I could even suggest that if I can do a good job teaching real chemistry, then my belief in fairies would not necessarily disqualify me from teaching chemistry, so long as I stick to the molecules, etc., and keep the fairies out of it.

    When Chairman Mc said that he’s read Ken Miller’s book and was not convinced by it, my response is not that he should be convinced, but that it should be irrelevant whether he’s convinced or not. The problem is not that he doesn’t believe in what he would call “macro-evolution”; the problem is that he is willing to interpose his personal beliefs in place of teaching real biology (which deals with evolved forms, whether he believes in them or not, and not with fairies or extra-natural designers).

    Biology is as biology does, which is what needs to be taught in a biology course, regardless of whether SBOE politicians personally believe in what biology deals with or not.

  56. Ben Says:

    Tony,

    If, after all we’ve been through with the board, you don’t think it’s important for board members to accept the theory that is often defined as the underlying foundation of all of biology, then you and I see it differently. If a board member believes in micro-fairies rather than atoms, I’d want to know that.

    Besides, her statement–‘The theory of evolution should be taught without any of the “strengths and weaknesses” language’–could mean that she’s comfortable with the current “all sides” language, which would not satisfy me.

    I’ve seen creationists claim to “believe” the theory of evolution, but when you do some digging, what they’re calling the theory of evolution is a twisted misrepresentation of the actual theory.

    I’ll say again that I don’t think Rebecca is a creationist, nor do I think she rejects the theory of evolution, but I do think she needs to make her stance on the issue (and other issues) abundantly clear.

  57. JC Dufresne Says:

    Ben,

    I’ve met Dr. Bell-Metereau and regardless of how she chooses to phrase her answer I as one who accepts the scientific evidence for evolution believe that she’ll do the right thing. I wouldn’t ever want to claim to speak for her but she may be writing her answers carefully so as not to antagonize those on the right who might vote for her if they believe that she won’t offend their religious beliefs. Just because this is a small forum doesn’t mean that someone from Mercer’s camp isn’t trawling it for quotes that can be used against her in the campaign.

  58. Ben Says:

    JC, I suspect you’re right.

  59. Marisa Bell-Metereau Says:

    JC, I suspect you are correct as well, though I won’t speak for Rebecca.

  60. Charles Says:

    There you have it.

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