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)

 

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

Don McLeroy, who infamously declared that “somebody’s gotta stand up to experts” in the debate over teaching evolution in public school science classrooms, has waded into a key Texas State Board of Election (SBOE) election contest. Eric Mahroum announced on Jan. 29 that the creationist former SBOE chair is backing his challenge to incumbent Pat Hardy in the District 11 Republican Primary. Lady Theresa Thombs is the third GOP candidate in that North Texas race.

Mahroum’s website quotes McLeroy as charging that Hardy “disqualified herself to serve” on the SBOE by supporting a proposal in 2011 to allow voters to decide whether to transfer $2 billion from the Permanent School Fund (PSF) to the state’s public education budget. McLeroy’s claims that Hardy “acted irresponsibly” by “encouraging a massive raid” on the PSF, which funds textbooks. The proposal’s supporters argued at the time that voters should be able to decide whether to use PSF money to soften the blow of billions of dollars in devastating cuts state lawmakers ultimately made to the state budget for public schools.

But no one should be fooled here: the real issue here for McLeroy isn’t the PSF. He really opposes Hardy’s… Read More

Each of the four candidates seeking the Republican nomination for Texas lieutenant governor raced as far to the extreme right as they could during their debate Monday night. Each one, for example, expressed support for banning abortion even in cases of rape or incest. Each one insisted that government should intrude into the end-of-life decisions families make for their loved ones who are brain dead. And each one insisted that public schools be put in the position of deciding whose religious beliefs about creation should be taught in their classrooms.

On the issue of creationism, disregard for now the fact that the four candidates were supporting something that would get the state’s cash-strapped public schools sued for violating the U.S. Constitution. The candidates would also create an impossibly difficult dilemma for public schools. Should those schools teach students that Earth is 6,000-years-old and that humans walked the land with dinosaurs? Should they teach competing religious beliefs about creation? Or should they simply leave, as they do now, religious instruction to families and congregations while focusing instead on teaching students established, mainstream science that prepares them to succeed in college and the jobs of the 21st century?

Just as appalling was… Read More

The CEO of Texas-based Responsive Education Solutions has responded to an in-depth article in Slate detailing how the charter operator’s public schools teach junk science and political propaganda as factual. Frankly, the CEO’s response is just as troubling as the original allegations about the schools’ troubling curriculum.

Responsive Ed’s CEO Chuck Cook wrote an extensive reply to a post about the Slate article on the Arkansas Times website. You can read Cook’s full response in the comments section here. The Arkansas Times writer discusses Cook’s response here. (The original Slate article by Zack Kopplin is here, and a TFN press release about the revelations in that article is here.)

Cook begins his defense by arguing that Responsive Ed’s instructional materials on evolution are simply conforming to the Texas curriculum standards by “examining all sides of scientific evidence” of scientific explanations. He then proceeds to post an extended except from those classroom materials — an excerpt that portrays creationism as a valid scientific concept. This is part of his excerpt from the classroom materials students use:

In recent years, these two schools of thought —creationism and evolution—have been at conflict in schools, universities, and scientific circles.… Read More

Here are some of the week’s most notable quotes culled from news reports from across Texas, and beyond. Read More