Dodge and Stonewall

At the legislative hearing this morning about the Texas State Board of Education, Robert Scott, the state’s education commissioner, just told lawmakers that he’s proud of the board’s “open process” for developing curriculum standards. The Texas Education Agency and state board have received thousands of written comments about the social studies standards, he said. And many people have come before the state board to express their concerns about the standards.

But Mr. Scott is having a hard time with questions about why state board Chairwoman Gail Lowe, R-Lampasas, hasn’t come to answer questions during the hearing. Mr. Scott notes that the board is a constitutionally authorized body, suggesting that board members aren’t required to appear before legislative hearings. Of course, that might be true. But wouldn’t Ms. Lowe’s presence here be important to the “open process” of which the commissioner is so proud?

We do have some (a little) sympathy for Mr. Scott here. He is, after all, a political appointee of Gov. Rick Perry. And Gov. Perry also appointed Ms. Lowe as board chair. So does anyone expect the commissioner to do anything other than defend the chairwoman, even if her absence is taken by lawmakers as (and is) insulting?

But let’s forget about these legislators for a minute. Don’t Texas parents have a right to expect Ms. Lowe to meet with their elected representatives to explain why the state board has become such a controversial, dysfunctional mess? Shouldn’t she be expected to answer questions about why the board has turned issue after issue before it into an intensely politicized “culture war” battle?

The answer to both questions, of course, is yes. So her absence today isn’t just offensive to legislators charged with overseeing (and funding) the work of state agencies (including the State Board of Education). It’s a slap in the face to parents across Texas concerned about a state board that is politicizing their children’s education and recklessly dragging their public school classrooms into the nation’s divisive culture wars.

UPDATE: Commissioner Scott just suggested that the board is changing the curriculum — and slanting it toward a more conservative perspective — because “we are a representative democracy” and electoral changes have put conservatives in charge of the state board. First, the board says we’re a “constitutional republic,” not a “representative democracy,” remember? But more seriously, shouldn’t curriculum standards be based on sound scholarship, not on the opinions of whatever political majority controls the state board? Did historical facts change when the board’s far-right faction took control after the 2006 elections?

7 thoughts on “Dodge and Stonewall

  1. This whole state is becoming a controversial, dysfunctional mess.

    In case anyone hasn’t seen the bipartisan commission on the national deficit on C-Span, I urge that you do.
    When their (and I stress BIPARTISAN, Alan Simpson is a co-chair) bipartisan recommendations are implemented, it’s going to be painful for Texas because of our inordinate share of federal pork.

    We’re going to need leadership that is creating new economic, educational and entrepreneurial opportunities.
    We can’t afford a pro-ignorance governor and legislature.
    We’ve got to turn up the heat on the status quo, pdq.

  2. This is what happens you elect to a public school board people who hate public schools.

  3. Yankee Says:

    >This is what happens [when] you elect to a public school board people who hate public schools.

    Yankee, most Americans, let alone Texans, under some puffed-up notion of nationalism mistaken for patriotism, will acquiesce to send their children half-way around the world to die in the sands of a foreign resource war, but will not cross the street to vote. Thus, SBOE elections are ‘below the radar’ for the short attention spanned public. So, hithertofore mostly just fundamentalist ideologues, hoping to acheive exactly this which they have, come out. Yes they hate public schools; they hate “public” anything, and are struggling toward villification of the word as surely as they have strived to tarnish the words and concepts of ‘social’, ‘civil’, etc. How else, besides their tireless attempts to cutting funding and siphon off existing public school money for private and parochial education, can they round out the indoctrination tomorrow’s christian soldiers?

  4. Maybe the expression “Don’t Mess With Texas” should be re-tooled to “Texas Is A Mess”?

  5. There should be a firestorm of controversy over the management of the gulf states, of the oil corporations malfeasance, and over the lack of interest Hayley Barbour, Jindal, and Rick “Jefferson Davis ” Perry had in protecting their states from these corporations.
    BP should be made to pay for this cleanup. With the deficit growing, we can’t afford to pick up the tab for Big Oil any longer.
    They can create thousands of jobs for at least another year or two just cleaning up this mess and fixing the other rigs so this doesn’t happen again.
    As for the school board, we need to clean it out along with the rest of State gov.

  6. David, unfortunately, it looks like it’s going to take way more than a year to clean up the mess that’s coming to the Mississippi Delta tomorrow. A heck of a lot of wildlife is going to die tomorrow.

    Commissioner Scott says “we are a representative democracy.” In fact, NO WE ARE NOT! We are a corporate-run, corporate-controlled oligarchy. In the United States, wealth is highly concentrated in a relatively few hands. As of 2007, the top 1% of households (the upper class) owned 34.6% of all privately held wealth, and the next 19% (the managerial, professional, and small business stratum) had 50.5%, which means that just 20% of the people owned a remarkable 85%, leaving only 15% of the wealth for the bottom 80% (wage and salary workers). In terms of financial wealth (total net worth minus the value of one’s home), the top 1% of households had an even greater share: 42.7%.

  7. I started with a longer time span but scaled it back. Bottom line, is that these “social conservatives” are there just as a distraction from the real deal.
    It’s kind of like 3 card Monte.