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)

 

Failure to Adopt Specific Bible Class Standards Endangers Religious Freedom, Puts School Districts in Legal Jeopardy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 18, 2008

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. The Texas Freedom Network is releasing the two statements in reaction to that vote. The first is from Ryan Valentine, TFN’s deputy director. The second is from Dr. Mark Chancey, a professor of religious studies at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Dr. Chancey authored a 2006 report for the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund about how Texas public schools currently teach about the Bible.

Statement from TFN Deputy Director Ryan Valentine

Today we can almost hear the collective groan of officials in school districts across Texas. The State Board of Education just threw those districts and their teachers under the bus by refusing to give them the guidance they need to create courses that are respectful of the Bible, protect the religious freedom of students and keep our neighbhorhood schools out of court.

This is what happens when our elected officials put politics and personal agendas ahead of the… 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

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

We told you on Monday that the House Public Education Committee had scheduled a hearing for 9 a.m. this morning about the State Board of Education. Ryan Valentine, the Texas Freedom Network's deputy director, is testifying for TFN today. Here's an excerpt: Over the past 13 years, and especially in the past 12 months, we have watched the state board’s focus on educating Texas schoolchildren become diverted with unnecessary and divisive debates over politics and the personal agendas of some of its members. The board has become increasingly dysfunctional. Its important work has become bogged down and undermined by secretive political maneuvering that is arrogantly disrespectful of teachers, of established rules and open processes, and even of the law itself.…… Read More

The political antics of the far-right faction that now controls the Texas State Board of Education has been attracting a lot of attention in the press. The faction has managed to make work on everything from adopting mathematics textooks to revising language arts and science curriculum standards strained and controversial. Unnecessary fights over those and other issues have undermined progress on the increasingly dysfunctional board.

This weekend the Houston Chronicle published a scathing editorial that scorched the board for undermining efforts to protect the religious freedom of students in public school elective classes about the Bible’s influence in history and literature:

In its 2007 session, the Texas Legislature managed to do something remarkable. It passed a broadly supported bill that allows school districts to develop academically rigorous courses on the Bible as literature, and it included carefully crafted safeguards to prevent schools from using the classes to teach religion or proselytize.

It took many hours of hard work and negotiation by members of the House Committee on Public Education to amend a bill written by Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, which sought to make the Bible classes mandatory for every school… 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…