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)

 

Texas Freedom Network has been taking fire from religious extremists on the State Board of Education for our stand on public school Bible classes. We have been very critical of the state board’s failure to adopt clear, specific curriculum standards to guide public schools in creating worthwhile, legal courses that don’t end up in court.

In pieces published by the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News, state board member Ken Mercer, R-San Antonio, responded to our concerns about the lack of sound Bible class standards by repeating a disingenuous argument. Mercer claimed (again) that the Texas attorney general has given a “constitutional green light” to the vague, very general standards the state board adopted. Well, how could the attorney general object to something that says essentially nothing? The standards adopted by the state board barely even mention the Bible. Now local school districts will have to expend precious and scarce resources to develop real curriculum standards that are academically and legally appropriate — something the state board decided was just too hard to do itself.

Then Mercer repeats the falsehood that no public school district has ever been successfully sued for offering an… Read More

Constitutional scholar and Baptist minister John Ferguson yesterday weighed in on the vague, very general Bible curriculum standards adopted by the State Board of Education in the Abilene Reporter News:

As a father and a man of faith, I am concerned whenever government gets involved in my religion or my kids’ lives. Then when the state starts pushing local school districts to venture into a controversial and lawsuit-inspiring area that interferes with both, my consternation may very well turn into action (especially in an election year).

Ferguson was dumbfounded to find that the board created “aerobics standards [that] are specific to the point of making sure students can identify appropriate footwear” but found Bible classes to require only a “half-page of vague standards.”

Further, Ferguson, who has advised school districts across the country on teaching academically sound and constitutional Bible classes, eviscerates the board’s decision to refuse the advice offered by experts in the fields of law and biblical studies in designing effective standards. The board’s decision, in effect, forces local districts to spend taxpayer money to research and design their own Bible curricula. (A Texas Freedom Network Education FundRead More

Hope you aren’t tired of reading stories about Bibles in schools yet — there are likely many more to come. In today’s and yesterday’s TFN News Clips alone, we found six stories about public school Bible courses but only ran five and an editorial cartoon. And you can, as the Austin American-Statesman wrote in an editorial yesterday, “[E]xpect to see numerous state school districts in court — and paying hefty legal bills with taxpayers’ money — because their Bible courses promote Protestant Christianity over other religions.” And, with those lawsuits, expect to see many, many more news stories.

Aside from the editorial above, other stories we included in News Clips drove home the Statesman’s reasoning for why many schools could end up in court.

A news story from Waco noted that many Central Texas school districts do not plan to include Bible classes in their course offerings this year for a number of reasons: It’s too close to the start of the school year to rewrite course manuals, they’re finding it difficult to add another elective to their offerings and, most important, districts are confused and worried when it comes to designing the… Read More

The Houston Chronicle has an excellent wrap up of last Friday’s decision by the State Board of Education to adopt vague, very general guidelines for public school Bible classes in Texas. TFN Daily News Clips includes links to other stories about the state board’s action. (Click here to subscribe to TFN Daily News Clips. News Clips offers a convenient digest of news articles and editorials involving religious freedom, civil liberties and public education.)

As we have reported, the state board refused to give local school districts specific curriculum standards that would guide them in developing legally appropriate and academically useful classes about the Bible’s influence in history and literature. (For more background on the issue, click here.) The legal fallout from the board’s decision will come later as local school districts struggle with how to develop these courses on their own.

The Texas Freedom Network Education Fund released a report in 2006 that details what already happens… Read More

  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

Achieving Together TX

ICYMI new blog post this week: "HIV Prevention Begins with Comprehensive Sex-Ed" by the wonderful Melissa Pintor Carnagey w/ great quotes from the folks at @TFN w/ their #teachthetruth campaign. #HIV #SexEd #SexPositive #ThursdayThoughts achievingtogethertx.… pic.twitter.com/4A7f…