In a piece that appeared in today’s San Antonio Express-News, columnist Veronica Flores-Paniagua brings up some points about State Board of Education (SBOE) Chairwoman Gail Lowe’s leadership — or, rather, lack thereof — that may not have gotten as much attention as the larger fight over the controversial social studies adoption process of last year. But those points certainly deserve revisiting given that Gov. Perry wants to give Lowe another term as board chair
Flores-Paniagua writes about an SBOE hearing in January 2010 where more than 130 people signed up for the chance to speak to the board about the social studies standards. Some who signed up didn’t get a chance to do so, as Flores-Paniagua points out:
Dozens of people, some representing veterans, had waited all day to express their concerns that the SBOE’s work on the social studies curriculum was distorting history by leaving out important contributions of minorities. Some had traveled hundreds of miles to be there. At 6 p.m., Lowe got up to leave. Her Republican colleagues left with her.
We’ll point out that legislative committees often hold marathon hearings, staying until all hours of the morning to make sure everyone who took the time to be there to testify is heard. But Gail Lowe’s SBOE shut down early rather than stay to listen to constituents who had traveled from across the state — and waited all day — to be heard.
Then there was last April’s hearing by the Texas House’s Mexican American Legislative Caucus (MALC) at which Lowe was requested to testify, and at which legislators had hoped to learn about the process that gave us the new social studies standards. It could have been Lowe’s moment to shine, to exhibit the kind of leadership that’s expected of the chairperson. But it wasn’t. Lowe was a no-show, saying she couldn’t attend due to prior commitments.
Lowe’s confirmation for a second term as chairwoman is still pending before the Senate Nominations Committee. Her first term, however, gave us little evidence that she is no longer the kind of person she described herself as in July 2009 when, in comments to the Houston Chronicle, she cast doubt on her own ability to lead :
I am more comfortable as a member. I am not an aggressive, upfront, outspoken person. I don’t think my personality will change any with my new responsibilities. I hope I will still be measured and fair and open and will work with everyone to promote the best academic interest of the Texas public school children.