As we reported Monday, a new report prepared for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board slams the State Board of Education (SBOE) for their politicized, factually challenged re-write of social studies curriculum standards last year. The report is worth a read to see just how extensive the damage was to those standards — and to Texas students’ college readiness. But if you don’t have a time to read the whole thing, here are a few of the
Archive for the ‘curriculum standards’ Category
Gov. Perry, we’d like to bring an exciting money-making opportunity to your attention.
Last month when the SBOE debated adoption of instructional materials in science, Mercer made a very generous offer:
You show me one (science curriculum standard) where there’s God or Jesus, intelligent design, creationism. Show me that, and I’ll give you $500.
The National Center for Science Education has video of Mercer’s offer:
Now fast forward a few weeks, where you stated unequivocally:
In Texas, we teach both creationism and evolution in our public schools — because I figure you’re smart enough to figure out which one is right.
You and Mr. Mercer should talk about that $500 check. He doesn’t strike us as a welcher, so we’re sure he’ll hand that $500 right over.
A word of caution, though. A bunch of us fact-checked your creationism comment, and despite your assertion, we couldn’t find anything in the standards calling for creationism to be taught in public schools, probably in large part because it’s a constitutional no-no. Our guess is that Mercer doesn’t technically owe you anything. But since you’ve appointed most of Texas’ Supreme Court justices, you might be able force him to pay up, if you want to explore litigation.
Oh, and do you have the Texas Education Agency’s phone number? They need to hear about this offer, too.
When fanatics don’t have facts to back up their arguments, they invent them. We saw that during the Texas Senate Higher Education Committee’s hearing Wednesday on SB 1348. That bill and companion HB 3263 call for the appointment of teams of highly qualified scholars from Texas colleges and universities to review proposed public school curriculum standards for accuracy and to ensure that they prepare students for college.
This common-sense legislation appealed to both Democrats and Republicans on the committee. “It’s hard for me to vote against a bill that makes sense,” Sen. Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock said at one point.
Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller testified in support of the bill, explaining how the State Board of Education has politicized curriculum standards and appointed unqualified “expert” advisers simply because of their ideological views. The board has even refused to ask scholars at the state’s world-class universities to review the heavily revised standards before final adoption. Even a conservative think tank like the Fordham Institute has expressed its disgust with the state board’s blatantly politicized and inaccurate curriculum standards.
The facts-inventing began when Jonathan Saenz, the lobbyist for Liberty Institute (Texas affiliate of Focus on the Family) testified in opposition to the bill. We’ll point out just three of the whoppers he told committee members. (You can watch the video — Saenz’s testimony begins at about the 1:20:00 mark here.)
It’s astonishing how much mischief can be done in just 48 hours. Today Texas legislators have a chance to help put a stop to some of it, at least when it comes to the State Board of Education. More about that below.
Teachers and scholars spent nearly a year — more than two years in one case — working together to draft curriculum standards for three major subject areas taught in Texas public schools. Then in the course of a few short meetings, politicians on the State Board of Education vandalized those carefully drafted standards for language arts (2008), science (2009) and social studies (2010). State board members made wholesale revisions to those drafts — about three hundred changes in the case of the social studies standards alone.
Many of those changes came in just the last 48 hours before final board votes on adopting standards that will be in place for nearly a decade. Even worse, board members made those (essentially) last-minute changes without the formal review or advice of teachers and scholars.
Breaking news from today’s State Board of Education meeting. The long and short of it — the war on science is officially back on in Texas.
See TFN’s press statement for the basics. And watch TFN Insider for more in the days to come.
CREATIONIST GROUP PUSHES ANTI-EVOLUTION MATERIALS IN TEXAS SCIENCE CLASSES
Texas SBOE Asked To Consider Materials from Fringe Anti-Science Group
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 20, 2011
In a move that should not surprise anyone, a well-known creationist/“intelligent design” group appeared on a list of publishers that have indicated an intent to submit science curriculum materials for approval by the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) later this spring. The formal inclusion of this creationist group means Texas will once again be ground zero for creationist attacks on 21st-century science, TFN President Kathy Miller said.
“In 2009 the State Board of Education approved new science curriculum standards that opened the door to creationist materials in Texas classrooms. Today we saw that one prominent creationist group intends to walk through that door,” Miller said. “Getting their materials in public schools has long been a top priority for creationists, and it’s clear that they intend to make Texas their flagship. Teaching inaccurate information rejected by the scientific community would be a huge disservice to Texas kids and a major setback for science education everywhere.”
Today the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund released results from a statewide survey of what Texans think about the intersection of politics and religion with public schools. We released results from two questions back in May. One showed overwhelming support for putting teachers and scholars, instead of politicians on the State Board of Education, in charge of writing curriculum and textbook requirements. Another revealed that nearly 7 in 10 Texans agree that separation of church and state is a key principle of the Constitution.
Today we released the full results of the public survey. You can read highlights of the report in the press release below and read the full report here. But this is the key point: Texans are fed up with politicians dragging our children public schools into unnecessary and divisive culture war battles that promote personal and political agendas of state board members. They want the state board and our public schools to just educate Texas students and prepare them to succeed in college and their future careers. You can help reform the state board and protect the education of Texas schoolchildren by joining our Just Educate campaign today.
Below is the press release we sent out today.
A new statewide survey shows Texans overwhelmingly support reforming the way the state sets requirements for curriculum and textbooks in public schools and reject key “culture war” positions the right has taken regarding public education.
Gov. Rick Perry has been doing all he can to solidify his support among far-right pressure groups. This weekend (July 2-3), for example, Gov. Perry will be speaking at the Americans for Prosperity Foundation’s Texas Defending the American Dream Summit in Austin. The governor will join speakers such as Tim Phillips, president of the AFP Foundation; a number of nationally known writers, actors and entertainers on the right; and Joe the Plumber, the guy who became something of a political celebrity during last year’s presidential campaign.
On the agenda is the usual heavy dose of right-wing paranoia, including workshops such as “Recognizing Media Bias: Analyzing the news,” “How to Fight Biased Media: What to do when you spot bias or errors in the media.” Another panel is called “From Tea Parties to Taking Back America,” as if someone (guess who) has somehow stolen America from its rightful owners.
Here was a panel that especially caught our eye: “Texas Textbook Wars & Curriculum Controversies.” Seeing that panel topic at an AFP confab is hardly a surprise to us. During the long debate at the Texas State Board of Education over proposed social studies curriculum standards, one of the voices in support of the changes coming from the board’s far-right faction was Peggy Venable, executive director of the Texas office of Americans for Prosperity (AFP).