Archive for the ‘Bill Ames’ Category

Race and the Texas Social Studies Standards

March 29, 2011

A screed published Friday on a San Antonio Express-News blog provides a good example of why it’s a bad idea to turn over to political activists decisions about what our kids learn in their public schools. In his post, Bill Ames lashes out at critics of the heavily politicized new social studies curriculum standards the State Board of Education approved for Texas public schools last year. Then-board member Don McLeroy insisted that the Texas Education Agency appoint Ames to the curriculum team drafting the high school U.S. history standards in 2009. Ames’ angry words Friday reflect standard — and absurdly misguided — right-wing hysteria about “leftists” supposedly distorting what kids learn in their public schools. But they also reveal a disturbing resentment about race issues in American history.



Bill Ames on Abortion and the SBOE

March 1, 2010

Bill Ames, appointed by Texas State Board of Education member Don McLeroy to a social studies curriculum writing team, has commented on our post about the relevance of abortion politics to the state board. We are reposting Mr. Ames’ comment here in its entirety:

I will explain exactly what abortion politics have to do with the SBOE.

In 2004, the SBOE adopted an abstinence-based sex education curriculum, in accordinance with the state education code.

Planned Parenthood was a substantial lobbyist for the anti-abstinence sex education curriculum demanded by TFN and other members of the education political lobby.

Planned Parenthood requires thousands of sexually active teens in Texas in order to keep its abortion mills profitably humming along.

Thus it supported the curriculum proposal that encourages teen sexual activity.

Abortion politics has lots to do with the SBOE………

So there you have it. According to Mr. Ames, people who oppose abstinence-only programs that keep students ignorant about how to protect themselves from unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases are simply trying to drum up profits for Planned Parenthood’s “abortion mills.”

The importance of rescuing the education of Texas schoolchildren from that kind of political hysteria and extremism could hardly be clearer.

The Battle over History and Education

January 12, 2010

We have seen a series of stories in the last few days about the coming debate at the State Board of Education this week on proposed new social studies curriculum standards in Texas public schools. The Austin American-Statesman yesterday looked at efforts by conservative evangelicals to require that students learn that the United States was founded as a Christian nation based on biblical principles. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram also previewed this week’s meeting here.

But one of the best overviews of the looming fight comes in the Texas Tribune today. The piece offers an excellent examination of the right-wing political extremism that has infected the curriculum revision process and who is behind it. (Go ahead. Guess.)


Far-right Activists Descend on Texas SBOE

November 18, 2009

The Texas State Board of Education has made clear that it will hold a public hearing on proposed social studies curriculum standards in January. But far-right pressure groups apparently decided to preempt that hearing today.

Despite no prior public indication from the board that there would be extensive testimony on the standards today, nearly two dozen people have signed up to testify about the proposed social studies standards this afternoon. And the list of testifiers is a “who’s who” of far-right pressure groups. Speakers include MerryLynn Gerstenschlager from Texas Eagle Forum, Peggy Venable from Americans for Prosperity, Jonathan Saenz from the Free Market Foundation Focus on the Family-Texas and Brooke Terry from Texas Public Policy Foundation.

And get this: Nancy Jones from Texas Tea Party also signed up to speak. That should be enlightening. Will she bring along signs accusing teachers of being Nazis and communists? Will she shout down any other speakers? From what we’ve seen around the country, you never know with the Tea Party folks. Oh, the drama…

Bill Ames, a far-right activist on one of the social studies curriculum teams who has attacked teachers and fellow curriculum writers as leftists, is listed as the first speaker. Ames also complained earlier this year about an “over-representation of minorities” in the standards. Any guesses where his testimony will go?

As always, TFN is monitoring the meeting. Keep an eye on TFN Insider for news and updates. You can find a link to a live Web cast of the state board meeting here.

The ‘Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy’

November 9, 2009

We told you last week that Texas State Board of Education members and their appointees helping revise social studies curriculum standards have embarked on a campaign of blanket smears and unhinged rants against just about everyone else involved in the process. One of those appointees, Bill Ames, has yet another column up on the conservative Web site Texas Insider in which he attacks as “leftists” teachers who are associated with one of the largest and most respected social studies educator groups in the country. He then manufactures a vast, left-wing conspiracy, with the Texas Freedom Network at the center of a web of “leftists” at the Texas Council for the Social Studies (TCSS), various teacher organizations and even professional staff at the Texas Education Agency:

“(T)he ideological, political, and even some financial links among TFN-TCSS-teachers’ unions-TEA staff-review panels-and SBOE liberals seem unmistakable.”

Oh please. He must have forgotten to throw in “communists” and “fellow travelers” to the conspiracy mix.



November 3, 2009

It appears that the Texas State Board of Education‘s social conservatives and their supporters have embarked on a new campaign of blanket smears against almost everyone involved in the revision of social studies curriculum standards. And the attacks increasingly sound almost like unhinged rants.

This week state board member Ken Mercer, R-San Antonio, and Bill Ames, appointed to a curriculum panel by board member Don McLeroy, R-College, are both attacking “leftists” involved in the social studies revision. Their targets include teachers, Texas Education Agency professional staff, the news media and (of course) the Texas Freedom Network.


Political Extremism and Curriculum Standards

June 20, 2009

In March the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) ambushed teachers and others who have been working to revise social studies curriculum standards for the state’s public schools. TPPF charged that the curriculum writing teams — made up of teachers, academics and others — were drafting standards that left out important historical figures such as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, holidays like Independence Day and various patriotic symbols like the Liberty Bell.

That was nonsense. As we noted later, Don McLeroy (who was State Board of Education chairman at the time) had leaked early work from the writing teams to TPPF — work that was nowhere near complete. It seems clear that TPPF’s purpose (and McLeroy’s) was to discredit the work of the writing team members. Most of those team members are hardworking educators and academics who know history and understand quite well how to craft curriculum standards for students.

But not all of them. We have already reported about the ideologues the McLeroy faction on the state board has appointed to a panel of so-called “experts” who will help guide the revision of the social studies standards. It turns out that faction members have also embedded fringe right-wingers on the very curriculum writing teams that they were criticizing last March. Here are three:


‘Overrepresentation of Minorities’

May 22, 2009

Another early hint of trouble brewing in the Texas State Board of Education‘s revision of social studies curriculum standards: attacks on minority contributions to American history and society. And once again Chairman Don McLeroy, R-College Station, is right in the middle of the brouhaha.