Education

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.

Resources

Broken Promises: Charter Schools in Texas (2000 report)

Broken Promises II (2001 report)

 

The State Board of Education: Dragging Texas Schools into the Culture Wars (2008 report)

 

Just Say Don’t Know: Sex Education in Texas Public Schools (2009 report)

Sex Education in Public Schools: Progress in the Lone Star State (2011 report)

Reading Writing & Religion: Teaching the Bible in Texas Public Schools (2006 report)

Reading, Writing & Religion II (2013 report)

Can This Class Be Saved? The ‘Hobby Lobby’ Public School Bible Curriculum (2014 report)

 

Four American presidents are coming to Austin this week for the Civil Rights Summit at the LBJ Presidential Library on the University of Texas campus. The event, which lasts from Tuesday to Thursday, celebrates the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

This anniversary year is, as educators say, a teachable moment. Students will have an opportunity to learn more about how African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, women and others have worked long and hard to win the same rights and privileges as white men in this country. This might also be a teachable moment for the Texas State Board of Education, which this year will consider the adoption of proposed new social studies textbooks for public schools.

The struggles for civil and equal rights in America were a big part of the debate over new curriculum standards for social studies classes in 2009-10. That debate exposed the incredible ignorance among some board members about how those movements succeeded. So let’s look back at what one board member at the time, Don McLeroy, wanted students to learn about civil rights:

Here’s what we had to say at the time:

So the… Read More

This week TFN launched #SupportMAS, a campaign to encourage the Texas State Board to add an elective course in Mexican-American studies to the state curriculum. In announcing the campaign, we asked a friend of TFN to explain why the state needs a MAS course. His message is below.

You can add your name to the petition by going to tfn.org/supportMAS.

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By Ruben Garza I’d like to ask for your support for a Mexican-American studies course in Texas schools. But before I tell you why, let me tell you a little about myself.

I grew up the Rio Grande Valley in south Texas. My days were spent in places like Edinburg and McAllen, but also around communities like San Juan and Hidalgo. We have schools in the Valley named after men called Austin and Travis, and also Gonzalez, De Zavala and Chavez. You’ll find that our streets, neighborhoods and even rivers carry a similar mix of diverse names.

What’s fascinating to me is that you’ll find these names all over much of Texas. Make no mistake, Mexican-Americans helped shape Texas and its history, not just the Valley.

But in my case, I didn’t have a real… Read More

You might think it would be difficult for the Texas Republican Party to lurch even further to the political right. But you would be wrong, especially when it comes to public education.

Wealthy real estate and car dealership magnate Don Huffines’ narrow defeat of incumbent state Sen. John Carona in their Republican Primary last month could be a big blow for supporters of public schools in Texas. Carona has held the Dallas-area Senate district’s seat since he was first elected in 1996. He has long been an opponent of private school vouchers, which divert tax dollars from public schools to private and religious schools.

Huffines, who campaigned as a tea party Republican, tells Dallas public radio station KERA that he supports “certain types of vouchers.” Among those “types” is the tax-credit voucher scheme pushed by state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, last year. Such backdoor voucher schemes create tax breaks for businesses that contribute money to “scholarship” programs for students who attend private schools. Those tax breaks lower funding available for public schools.

Moreover, even Gov. Perry’s former state education commissioner, Robert Scott, has warned that “the potential for fraud is incredible” with these tax-credit voucher schemes. In

Folks in Ohio are upset after a Republican state legislator there criticized public education as a failure because, he says, it’s socialism. But he’s got nothing on the anti-public education fanatics we elect here in Texas.

Ohio state Rep. Andrew Brenner wrote about public schools in a blog post on March 3 titled “Public education in America is socialism, what is the solution?” Here’s part of what he wrote:

It is interesting that tea party members will attack Obama-care relentlessly as a socialist system that brings about mediocrity and failure, and also blame Common Core for all of the problems in our education system because they are concerned that it will become centralized. However, they rarely (if ever) bring up the fact that our public education system is already a socialist system. and has been a socialist system since the founding of our country. While one room school houses (which were also used in many cases as houses of worship) worked well 100 years ago when most students graduated by the 7th grade, the same system does not work well today.

The solution to the “problem,” he writes, is to privatize education:

Successful schools will thrive. The free-market… Read More

When it comes to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot, at least one thing has become abundantly clear: he doesn’t have a problem sharing the stage with some of the nation’s most extreme, divisive and hateful figures. That conclusion is underscored by the news that Abbott will be a featured speaker next month at a Texas Renewal Project event that includes a virtual “who’s who” of religious and political extremists.

Last year Abbott — now the Republican nominee for Texas governor — accepted an award from a Houston organization whose executive director calls his city’s mayor a “sodomite,” compares President Obama and Democratic leaders to Nazis and attacks the religious faith of clergy with whom he disagrees, calling them “chimpanzees,” “pathetic” and “pitiful.” Earlier this year Abbott campaigned with rocker Ted Nugent, who has called President Obama a “subhuman mongrel” and brags about bedding underage teen girls.

Now at the Texas Renewal Project event scheduled for April 3-4 in Austin, Abbott will be joining a list of speakers who have a history of incendiary, hateful and divisive rhetoric. Among them:… Read More