Barbara Cargill: In Her Own Words

UPDATE: Apparently, someone was embarrassed that we were highlighting Barbara Cargill’s comments at a Texas Eagle Forum event last week. YouTube videos of those comments have now been made private. No matter. We already have those comments and the videos. We’ll have more from Cargill’s talk — this time her troubling comments about the coming of adoption of science instructional materials — shortly.

NEWER UPDATE: The videos are again available below.


Newly appointed Texas State Board of Education Chairwoman Barbara Cargill’s talk before Texas Eagle Forum activists on Thursday in Conroe (near Houston) offered more evidence that she and her board allies are more interested in promoting political agendas than ensuring that kids get a sound education in their public school classrooms.

Consider, for example, this comment about people she has appointed to help revise math curriculum standards this summer:

“I have many nominees from District 8 who are there to represent us and our conservative voices.”


Represent “conservative voices”? In writing math curriculum standards? We were unaware that the Pythagorean theorem or equations like “2+2=4” have conservative and liberal perspectives.

Then again, Cargill is the same board member who screened applicants to serve on social studies curriculum teams by asking whether they consider themselves “conservative.”

And what about criticism that some board members have repeatedly tried to politicize curriculum standards and textbook adoptions? The new chairwoman — who replaces two immediate predecessors who failed to win Senate confirmation at least in part because their tenures were so politically divisive — had this to say to the Texas Eagle Forum folks:

“We must be doing the right thing if so many people are becoming angry.”


Gosh, that’s an interesting standard for justifying poor conduct. Would you let students get away with that one, Madam Chairwoman?

At another point in her talk she criticized media coverage of how the board’s far-right faction vandalized the revision of new social studies curriculum standards last year:

“If you watched Fox, thank you, because they were actually more accurate than most of the other media outlets.”


Really? Then why did the Texas Education Agency — headed by a political appointee of Republican Gov. Rick Perry — send out a scathing press release that ripped the Fox News network for its blatant distortions of fact during the social studies debate? From the TEA press release at the time:

“The Fox Network in recent days has repeatedly broadcast highly inaccurate information about the State Board of Education’s efforts to adopt the new social studies curriculum standards.”

The full TEA press release lists a number of whoppers from Fox News. We don’t recall TEA sending out a similar press release regarding the reporting of other media outlets. But Ms. Cargill thinks Fox did a great job. And she had this to say regarding other news media reports about the state board:

“The media has very much enjoyed making the board a mockery.”


No, Ms. Cargill. The board has done a pretty good job of doing that to itself.

Ms. Cargill also had plenty to say about the state board’s scheduled adoption of science instructional materials later this month. Stay tuned.

6 thoughts on “Barbara Cargill: In Her Own Words

  1. “Onward Christian Soldiers …” is a hymn that ranked historicallt along with the National Anthems of both the UK and the US when sang by the officers and men of HMS Prince of Wales on August 9, 1941 on the occasion of the signing of the Atlantic Charter by FDR and Winston Churchill.

    On September 9, 1941 at 1320 hours, Japanese aircraft sank the Prince of Wales in operations off the coast of Malaya at 3° 33′ 36″ N, 104° 28′ 42″ E

    The fact that a Christian hymn was sung at ceremonies such as this was taken for granted, the major concern at the time was by isolationists that FDR was trying to finable a way to get the US into the European wars. There is more than just a sliver of a remnant of a shadow of those days when Christianity was in effect of higher authority than any legal instrument. So long as no one tried to apply it, that was for Sunday punditry, Ms Cargill is in accordance wih the mores and standards that were dominant until JFK took a bullet in Dallas.

    The problem then and now is that no two can agree on what Christian Law is. It most certainly has little to do with the Anglo American constitutional system which didn’t even start until a thousand years after the death of Christ. Now that Christianity has been demoted from on high, the good old fashioned feeling of righteousness has to take a more secular tone, lest it cease to be relevant.

    Ms Cargill’s dedication to her principles should not be sniffed, sneezed, or snorted at. She comes from a very long line of deeply committed and sincere citizenry who feel deeply offended by government interference with Christian duties, such a burning witches, and stoning adulteresses. They sincerely believe that a return of morality would restore the balance of trade, reduce the national debt, even at the cost of reopening the Chicken Ranch and Storyville.

  2. “I have many nominees from District 8 who are there to represent us and our conservative voices.”

    Represent “conservative voices”? In writing math curriculum standards? We were unaware that the Pythagorean theorem or equations like “2+2=4″ have conservative and liberal perspectives.

    I think she is referring to the concept known in the 1960s as “New Math.” Conservatives view that as a radical liberal departure from the way math had been taught in schools for a century or more before that time—an attempt to fix something that is not broken—because liberals are always out trying to find some new and radical way to do things—and fix old tried and true things that are not broken.

    As part of this movement, my 6th grade teacher spent several weeks trying to teach us some weird concept called the “Russian Peasant Method” of multiplication. I never understood it then, did badly on the test, and do not understand it now—nor do I ever want to understand it. As a kid, I recall saying to myself, “Why do I have to understand how Russian peasants multiply numbers??? Can we just do regular multiplication and get on with it!!!!!”

    As many of you folks know, I live in what the Soviets used to call a “Science City.” “Eez science city Boris. We go there to find moose and squirrel.” Well-known members of our local science establishment hereabouts (i.e.,
    Ph.D. in physics types) are dead set against the “Everyday Math” curriculum that Babs Cargill was disparaging. Credible research has shown that it actually gets kids behind in math concepts that they need to know to do higher math in later grades. Defense: Yes, but most kids catch up by 9th grade. That is not much of a defense in my book. My daughter studied Everyday Math, and I believe it hurt her.

    The thing I would disagree with is the labeling of a math teaching concept as liberal or conservative. That is like saying that the Number “2” is liberal, but “3” is conservative. I think it would be more accurate to go with “bad idea” and “good idea.” It works, or it does not work. There may be some gray area in the middle too—some things that work and other parts that do not work.

  3. Liberal is where you left it. I don’t recall that sight learning and new math were politically motivated, these concepts were dreamed up I don’t know where but, back in the day, one “couldn’t stop progress”. Progress in and by itself was unstoppable, and anyone who opposed progress needed to progress into the Twentieth Century. Progress was invented in California, some say north, but some say south. It depended on whether one was a bear or a bruin,

    In a few short years high school and college graduates cudint spel, or tell the diffrents twen kill or ded. The Noo matx didt werk on chkbks.

    It amazed me that anyone could think of teaching reading words written in an alphabet (a phonetic system of writing) as if words were Chinese characters (picture words, pictographs). The Chinese system of writing is based on a combination of 214 radicals each having a meaning. Combining radicals combined several meanings into somehing more complex. Once one learned what the radicals mean, one has a fair chance of a good guess, goven context on what a word means haing never seen the word before.

    It takes recognition of about four thousand characters to read a newspaper. But once one learns how to read characteers, one can read Chinese much faster than reading any language written in alphabets. The sight reading of collections of phonic symbols (alphabets) that by themselves have no vidual meaning is a bit difficult to rationalize.

    Once people found out their children could barely read, write, add, subtract, multiply or divide, those who had learned the older unprogressive system of reading, writing and arithmatics, took up the cause. This unfortunatley killed the propaganda value of “progress”.

    Progress also took a hit from the Left, from property owners on the northern slopes of San Francisco, when progressive autobahn builders started the Embarcadero Freeway which blocked their view of the bay, It became hip, cool, and very progressive to oppose further building of autobahns in Northern California.

    So began a long process of distrust of progressive educators, and the beginning of a counter counter culture.

  4. English pronounciation does not reliably follow spelling (I blame it on the Normans. Btw, Icelandic might be even worse) unlike e.g. German. G.B.Shaw famously stated that following English ‘rules’ fish could be spelled ghoti (gh as in laugh, o as in women, ti as in nation). As a result orthography has to be teached in different ways.
    My own experience on the net is that ‘orthography by ear’ is far more common for people from the Right (fringe), i.e. when I encounter a comment or post that is (horribly mis)spelled as spoken then it is almost always a rant by a RWer attacking everyone present as leftist scum (even if the topic at hand had nothing to do with politics/policy).

    Math is the source of all heresy as an observer of the Galilei trial wrote ot a colleague. His solution was obvious: preemptively burn all mathematicians at the stake.

    Pythagoras did indeed believe that numbers have spiritual meaning, so a ‘conservative’ or ‘liberal’ number would fit quite nicely

  5. I am glad that I am a born English speaker, born means that i learned it before puberty and kept it alive through puberty. There is a mental faculty that gives humans the ability to pick up grammer and pronounciation without having to stuggle through complex rules of grammar like case, gender, tenses, etc in a formal way. If a person does not continue to use the language learned before puberty, through puberty, the language is lost, and one has to learn it badly the hard way.

    When I lived in the Netherlands at age sixteen, my youngest sister at age six was the family translator. Once we returned to San Francisco East Bay suburbia, she lost all trace of Dutch, nor much of Japanese after she had lived in Japan for three years post grad.

    English is a bastard language, being a basic North German core (Friesland) with a heavy dose of Norman French. The Saxon peasant under French speaking Norman lords, learned to pick up the fancy French to up grade coarse Anglo-Saxonese. Thus, pig meat is Porc at the stable, and swine in the stable. The habit of using Frenchified words is still today a sign of elegance, education. and class.

    The rules of pronounciation mixes two systems. The North Germanic uses sound shifts to coonjugate both nouns and verbs (sing, sang, sung) – (goose, geese) – while the French adds helping words and ending changes (would have had done – Germanic) – (happy, happier, hapiest) while French does the most happy, least happy. No other language has to blend grammatical rules of two systems of grammar at a very basic level.

    As the Anglo-Sason laws and Norman French laws closed ranks, we have a few mixes of the two: Will (Anglo) and Testament (Norman), Metes (Norma and Bounds (Saxon). Norman law was based on Roman Law, a code, while Saxon Law was dependant on accepted practices later integrated as case law.

    Since the English language has two internal structures, it is easy to mix and match, be totally ungrammatically correct and be perfectly understandable to English speakers. One diplomat from Singapore put it well. English isn’t the language of trade and politics. broken English is.

    English and Chinese have one item in common, the first one hundred most commonly used words have one syllable.

  6. It seems like “conservative education” is an oxymoron. Being conservative entails sticking with what we used to know and what we used to think was good pedagogy, “educating” children for yesterday’s world.