As we feared, the Texas State Board of Education today voted 10-5 to adopt vague, very general guidelines for Bible classes that public schools may teach as electives throughout the state. Read here for background about the issue. The Texas Freedom Network has also released two statements to the press.
Statement from TFN Deputy Director Ryan Valentine Read More
Some have asked why the Texas Freedom Network supported legislation last year on elective courses about the Bible in the state's public high schools. We agree with many scholars, teachers and clergy from our Texas Faith Network that the Bible has been so influential in history and literature that these classes can be, if taught appropriately, a valuable addition to a high school elective curriculum. In addition, federal courts have made it clear that local schools may choose to teach such courses. To pass court muster, they must be neutral and academic in nature and neither promote nor disparage religion. But we are not naive. Read More
Religious-right members of Congress are touting the Tom DeLay-conceived Values Action Team‘s House Values Agenda, a collection of bills they intend to file later in the year (right in time for the elections, no doubt). Far-right representatives like Joe Pitts, R-Penn., and Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, describe these bills as confronting important, groundbreaking new issues that will show the American people the differences between themselves, Democrats and moderate Republicans (which, in their estimation, likely includes Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain).
Michael Steel, a spokesman for Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), said [the Values Action Team’s] agenda would help Republicans draw a bright line between their principles and those of their Democratic colleagues.
“Rep. Joe Pitts’s [head of the Values Action Team] values agenda is a terrific addition to the toolbox of policies that Republican members and candidates will use this year to draw sharp contrasts with the Democrats on issues that are important to the American people,” Steel said.
In fact, their agenda is nothing more than the usual wedge issues — abortion, gay marriage, etc. — the far right trots out each election year to demonize certain Americans in hopes of garnering votes… Read More
It was, in a twisted way, a remarkable performance. In long, rambling testimony before the House Public Education Committee today, the chairman of the State Board of Education displayed a stunning disregard for facts, teachers and the will of the Legislature. Proclaiming that "Texans should be very proud of its education board," board chairman Don McLeroy, R-Bryan, effectively thumbed his nose at a legion of angry teachers sitting in audience. Those teachers had come to tell committee members how very little they agree with that sentiment (although McLeroy left the hearing before they testified). Then McLeroy tap danced around pointed questions regarding the board's refusal so far to obey a legislative requirement to develop new, specific curriculum standards for public school classes about the Bible's influence in history and literature. Read More
The board has been taking fire from committee members and teachers over its mishandling of the revision of language arts curriculum standards this spring. TFN Deputy Director Ryan Valentine will be testifying about the state board’s abuse of legislative limits on its authority.