Gail Lowe’s Leadership Questioned

In a piece that appeared in today’s San Antonio Express-News, columnist Veronica Flores-Paniagua brings up some points about State Board of Education (SBOE) Chairwoman Gail Lowe’s leadership — or, rather, lack thereof — that may not have gotten as much attention as the larger fight over the controversial social studies adoption process of last year. But those points certainly deserve revisiting given that Gov. Perry wants to give Lowe another term as board chair

Flores-Paniagua writes about an SBOE hearing in January 2010 where more than 130 people signed up for the chance to speak to the board about the social studies standards. Some who signed up didn’t get a chance to do so, as Flores-Paniagua points out:

Dozens of people, some representing veterans, had waited all day to express their concerns that the SBOE’s work on the social studies curriculum was distorting history by leaving out important contributions of minorities. Some had traveled hundreds of miles to be there. At 6 p.m., Lowe got up to leave. Her Republican colleagues left with her.

We’ll point out that legislative committees often hold marathon hearings, staying until all hours of the morning to make sure everyone who took the time to be there to testify is heard. But Gail Lowe’s SBOE shut down early rather than stay to listen to constituents who had traveled from across the state — and waited all day — to be heard.

Then there was last April’s hearing by the Texas House’s Mexican American Legislative Caucus (MALC) at which Lowe was requested to testify, and at which legislators had hoped to learn about the process that gave us the new social studies standards. It could have been Lowe’s moment to shine, to exhibit the kind of leadership that’s expected of the chairperson. But it wasn’t. Lowe was a no-show, saying she couldn’t attend due to prior commitments.

Lowe’s confirmation for a second term as chairwoman is still pending before the Senate Nominations Committee. Her first term, however, gave us little evidence that she is no longer the kind of person she described herself as in July 2009 when, in comments to the Houston Chronicle, she cast doubt on her own ability to lead :

I am more comfortable as a member. I am not an aggressive, upfront, outspoken person. I don’t think my personality will change any with my new responsibilities. I hope I will still be measured and fair and open and will work with everyone to promote the best academic interest of the Texas public school children.

6 thoughts on “Gail Lowe’s Leadership Questioned

  1. Why would Gail Lowe stay and listen to Texans that are concerned about the education of public school children? Her mind is already filled with far right-wing propaganda and creationist scientific canards. She does not want to hear anything that would upset her make-believe world. I think her statement about hoping to be fair and open is, at best, disingenuous.

  2. On the one hand, Lowe’s leadership should be opposed vehemently. On the other hand, a brouhaha over her Chairmanship actually plays into Perry’s hand, because it functions as a “rope a dope” of his opponents, who must spend political will and personal willpower fighting it, and because it distracts from his bigger crimes of failed leadership and fraud, regarding the $27 bil deficit and other problems facing the state.

  3. Quite frankly, if I had been in Ms. Lowe’s place, I would have pulled an all-nighter to let everyone speak. Of course, I am a night person anyway, so it would not have been much of a trick for me to do that. By the way Gail, I was up watching the proceedings on video and was ready to stay there all night to hear everyone speak, but you shut me down too. I did not appreciate that very much.

  4. Oh. I have one other quick thought about Gail’s last name—Lowe—like in the name of the home improvement store. It is not pronounced that way by the natives in my area. It is pronounced very differently. I cannot give you a phonetic spelling because that is essentially impossible. The only way to get it across is a rhyme with the following phrase that is also heard quite often around these parts:

    “Naw!!! I wouldn’t do that. We don’t Lowe none of that around here.”

  5. As some may know, the bloggers table in the back of the SBOE hearing room was removed by Don McLeroy when he was Chairman since every blogger there was writing contemporaneous blog columns about how incompetent, ignorant, and stupid he was seconds after he was being incompetent, ignorant, and stupid. He used the fatuous excuse that some members complained about noise from the table (which was far behind the press table and against the back wall). As someone who was frequently present, I can testify that the “noise” comes from all over the hearing room, not just or mainly from the bloggers table. Later, when Gail Lowe became Chairman (the title she told me she wants to use), I personally complimented here on the much more competent way she ran the meetings. Later, I respectfully asked permission for the bloggers table to be returned, since I explained that blogging is a new, perfectly legitimate form of journalism that deserves the same recognition as the members of the MSM at the press table, but she refused, using the same false excuse. I replied that this was simply not true, since the bloggers are too busy typing to talk very much and they are certainly no louder than anyone else including the MSM writers and the television videographers who are right next to the backs of the SBOE members’ chairs. But she simply said she didn’t want it. I recognized that this was going to be her authoritarian form of punishment to TFN and other bloggers for constantly writing negative things (all well-deserved) about the radical right SBOE members so I stopped arguing with her, but the experience lowered my perception of her fairness. At heart she is a radical religious right Republican who favors her party’s extremist politics and she isn’t going to change. This is sad, but in her favor I will say she is still a better Chairman than McLeroy.

  6. Right you are Steve. I have always been amused at the big Texas SBOE meetings because Kathy Miller is usually the first person to speak when public testimony starts. How does she manage that? Well, anyway, Kathy usually steps to the podium and Gail offers up this big beaming smile with effusively cordial greetings. You would think that some great celebrity had just stepped up to the podium. You’d think the two of them are doubles tennis partners in off-time hours.

    In my state some of us have a term for Gail’s behavior in this regard. I call it being “fakey sweet.” Personally, I am looking forward to the day when a bonafide cat fight breaks out at the gitgo of one of these testimony rounds. Taking a cue from the early episodes of “60 Minutes,” James Kilpatrick, and Dan Aykroyd, I would like to see Kathy just once step up to that podium and say, “Good morning Gail, you ignorant bi…!!! Something tells me that day will never come, but one can always hope.