With a public school enrollment of more than 5 million, Texas has an increasingly diverse public education system. Unfortunately, that public education system is also the target of politicians seeking to privatize our neighborhood public schools and push a culture-war agenda in the classroom.

To that end, the Texas Freedom Network – while continuing to fight private school voucher legislation at the Capitol – has conducted groundbreaking research into what is being taught in classrooms on subjects like sex education and religion.

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The Latest on Education

On Wednesday anti-public education politicians rallied behind a proposed new voucher scheme to transfer hundreds of millions of dollars each year from neighborhood public schools to private and religious schools in Texas. Those funding transfers would come on top of billions in funding cuts to public schools passed by the Legislature in 2011 — cuts lawmakers still haven’t fully restored.

State Sen. Donna Campbell, R-San Antonio, has filed Senate Bill 276, which would create so-called “taxpayer savings grants” that subsidize tuition at private and religious schools. The funds behind those subsidies would be taken from public schools — the so-called “savings” to taxpayers. Her legislation is backed by Dan Patrick, the incoming Republican lieutenant governor.

The Coalition for Public Schools, of which the Texas Freedom Network is a member, sent out the following press release on Wednesday:

A proposed new private school voucher scheme, a so-called “taxpayer savings grant,” represents a massive tax-giveaway that would drain hundreds of millions of dollars each year from neighborhood public schools to subsidize tuition at private and religious schools, mostly benefiting wealthy families.

Charles Luke, coordinator for the Coalition for Public Schools, notes several major flaws to Sen. Donna Campbell’s voucher scheme, Senate Bill 276.

“Senator Campbell’s proposal would pose yet… Read More

It’s time for the Texas Freedom Network’s review of the nonsense we heard from the far right this year. We’ll take up a different subject each day. Today: The right’s war on science — especially on climate science and the teaching of evolution — roared onward in 2014.  Click here to read quotes from the right in previous years. Let’s get started:

“When it comes to creationism, not only should it be taught, it should be triumphed. It should be heralded.”

— State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, expressing his support for teaching creationism in the state’s public schools during a debate with his Republican opponents in the race for Texas lieutenant governor. His GOP opponents also said they supported teaching creationism in public schools. Patrick won the election and will take office as lieutenant governor in January.

“I was not following this issue previously until a mom down in Corpus Christi showed me a a lesson plan that said ‘Fossil fuels are bad because …’ and then you filled in the blank. And the child filled in ‘because they pollute and are not renewable’ and that was the right answer! And as I delved… Read More

Members of the Texas State Board of Education aren’t the only politicians pushing the national campaign to turn public schools into tools for indoctrinating students with right-wing ideology. A columnist for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel looks at how that campaign is unfolding in other states.

In Florida, for example, lawmakers are pushing a bill that would require high school students to watch a film about America written by and starring conservative pundit Dinesh D’Souza. D’Souza is the author of numerous diatribes — in columns, books and film — that essentially describe President Obama as a Marxist out to destroy America.

Even fellow conservatives have labeled these claims by D’Souza as ridiculous. But now some Florida lawmakers want to force students in their state to watch a film from the same incendiary propagandist. (D’Souza, by the way, is also a law-breaker. He was fined and sentenced to eight months in a community confinement center last September after admitting that he deliberately violated U.S. campaign finance law.)

The Sun-Sentinel columnist, Rhonda Swan, explains how those Florida lawmakers are tied to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). That right-wing group has in other states been pushing similar legislation that would require students to learn a sanitized and distorted version of American history. Here’s how… Read More

Following months of controversy, an Oklahoma school district has announced that it will not implement a new Bible curriculum that was the subject of a scathing report from the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund this past June.

Museum of the Bible, a nonprofit created by Steve Green, president of the Oklahoma City-based retailer Hobby Lobby, is publishing the curriculum — The Book: The Bible’s History, Narrative and Impact. Public schools in Mustang, near Oklahoma City, had planned to teach a pilot version of the curriculum this fall. But the school district delayed implementation of the course after the release of the TFN Education Fund report by Mark Chancey. Chancey is a professor of religious studies at Southern Methodist University in Dallas and a leading authority on how public schools teach about the Bible. The report revealed serious problems with the new curriculum, including factual inaccuracies as well as material that raised questions about whether its use in public schools would be constitutional.

According to Religion News Service, last week the Mustang schools superintendent, Sean McDaniel, sent an email informing the Freedom from Religion Foundation and Americans United for Separation of Church and State that the district has decided not to move forward with the course: “In… Read More

Of all the ways that the Texas State Board of Education twisted and distorted American history when adopting new social studies curriculum standards in 2010, one of the worst was — as the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute has pointed out — the way “biblical influences on America’s founding are exaggerated, if not invented.” The clear purpose of such exaggerations, of course, was the desire by the SBOE’s bloc of religious-righters to promote the idea that the founders intended to create a distinctly Christian nation with its laws based on a conservative Christian reading of the Bible.

Sadly, publishers caved almost completely to the political pressure to include that historical revisionism in the new textbooks they submitted for consideration in Texas last April. As we have already reported, the textbooks teach that Moses was a major influence on the writing of our nation’s founding documents. They also suggest that the roots of democratic systems of government “include elements related to Judeo-Christian philosophy, dating back thousands of years to Old Testament texts and Biblical figures such as Moses and Solomon.” Of course, no one should deny the profound influence religion has played in American history. But textbooks shouldn’t exaggerate this influence to the point of simply… Read More

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