Poll: Texans Back Church-State Separation

We just released results of a statewide poll showing that a big majority of Texas likely voters believe separation of church and state is a key constitutional principle. In addition, an even larger majority believe teachers and scholars, not politicians, should make decisions about curriculum standards and textbooks in public schools.

Both are key issues in the current debate at the State Board of Education over proposed new social studies curriculum standards in Texas public schools. Check out our press release after the jump.


Poll Shows SBOE Out of Step with Everyday Texans, Providing More Evidence for Need to Delay Adoption of Standards, TFN Education Fund President Says

May 20, 2010

Large majorities of Texas voters believe separation of church and state is an important constitutional principle and that curriculum standards should be decided by teachers and scholars, not politicians, results of a new statewide poll show.

“Clearly, we have a State Board of Education that is seriously out of step with the attitudes of everyday Texans, especially parents of children who attend Texas public schools,” Texas Freedom Network Education Fund President Kathy Miller said. “Too many board members are putting their own personal and political opinions ahead of their responsibility to ensure that our schoolchildren get an education based on facts and the best scholarship.”

A majority of board members voted in March against requiring high school American government students to learn that the nation’s Founders barred government from favoring or disfavoring one religion over all others. Opponents of the requirement insist that separation of church and state is a myth.

The May 4-12 statewide poll by the national firm of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research for the TFN Education Fund shows that 68 percent of likely Texas voters agree that church-state separation is a key principle of the Constitution. Agreement extends across party lines, with 59 percent of Republicans, 76 percent of Democrats and 74 percent of political independents believing it is a key principle. (The question wording and poll results are available here.)

In addition, 72 percent of Texas voters – and 78 percent of parents – say that teachers and academic scholars should be responsible for writing curriculum standards and textbook requirements for Texas public schools. Only 19 percent prefer that elected members of a State Board of Education do so.

Teachers and scholars spent much of 2009 writing new social studies standards. In January and March, however, state board members made scores of controversial changes to the standards.

The board is scheduled to take a final vote on the standards Friday.

“Scholars, educators, civil rights and education groups, and lawmakers have called on the state board to delay final approval until new expert panels can review the numerous changes board members have made,” Miller said. “It seems clear to us that the vast majority of Texans would support that delay so teachers and experts can ensure that the curriculum reflects what children need to know to succeed in college and the jobs of the future.”

Greenberg Quinlan Rosner surveyed 601 likely Texas voters. The margin of error is +/- 4.0 percentage points.

5 thoughts on “Poll: Texans Back Church-State Separation

  1. This post – like many of your others – provides hope that the good, decent, and rational people of Texas will take it back from those whose self-righteous stupidity threaten its reputation and its future

  2. Rob, I’m in Texas, and I wouldn’t count on that happening. Just living here, reading the letters to the editor in the local paper, and hearing comments from even EDUCATED Texans tells me no such thing is going to happen in my lifetime. Remember, the conservatives on the TX SBOE outnumber the liberals 2:1.

  3. I cannot believe the narrow minded attitude of the majority of the folks on the Texas BOE

    reminds me of Hitler burning books; deciding for the people what they should learn, believ, and limiting the scope and sequence of what actually took place in our world.

    I watched the revisionists and felt sadness and dismay for these poor children who must be subjected to such a small minded petty world view.