Take Action: SBOE Reform

by Jose Medina

Three days out of a once-a-decade process isn’t much. State Rep. Mark Strama, D-Austin, agrees. We at TFN also agree. And so did almost everyone else at last night’s hearing before the Texas House Committee on Public Education, which took testimony on Rep. Strama’s HB 3257.

The legislation would require that any amendments to public school curriculum standards be made available for public review at least three business days prior to the SBOE voting on them. It also mandates that the final version of the complete standards be posted for at least 24 hours before the board votes on final adoption.

This is how TFN President Kathy Miller explained the organization’s support for the bill:

It represents transparent and open government, and it will go a long way in alleviating concerns that parents have about the procedures at the State Board of Education.

In the last three rounds of major curriculum standards updates, SBOE members have made hundreds of amendments to the standards in the final few hours before voting on their adoption. Those last minute changes don’t allow time for experts and the general public to offer an opinion and advice on the accuracy of what the board is about to vote on and place in Texas public schools textbooks for the next 10 years.

Several testifiers made this point to the committee last night, including current board member Thomas Ratliff, R-Mount Pleasant:

We re-write curriculum every 10 years and if we don’t have an extra two or three days to lay things out for the public to see it, then we shouldn’t be doing it. If it makes us carry it over to another meeting a couple of months later to give it even more transparency, it’s just the right thing to do.

It’s the kind of legislation that almost everyone seems to agree is needed. The only exceptions are the far-right groups Texas Eagle Forum and Focus on the Family affiliate Liberty Institute, both of which registered their opposition to the bill.

Now we need you to register your support for this bill. Please take a few minutes to contact the members of the House Public Education Committee and voice your support for Rep. Strama’s bill.

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