SBOE Attempts End Run Around Legislature

SBOE Attempts End Run Around Legislature

Attempt to Override Legislative Limits on Textbook Censorship Threaten Texas Schoolchildren’s Education

January 31, 2006

AUSTIN Attempts to override clear legislative restrictions on textbook censorship are a threat to the education of Texas schoolchildren, a spokesman for the Texas Freedom Network said today.

“State Board of Education members should not be allowed to edit textbook content based on their personal beliefs,” said Dan Quinn, communications director for the Texas Freedom Network. “If they are permitted to do so, the ‘facts’ our children learn will be determined by whatever majority controls what is an intensely political and deeply divided board.”

Last week State Board of Education (SBOE) member Terri Leo of Spring asked Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott to strike down a 1996 legal opinion upholding legislative limits on the board’s authority over textbook approval. Republican and Democratic legislators voted to curb the SBOE’s authority in 1995. Lawmakers acted because SBOE members were demanding that publishers make sometimes hundreds of changes to textbooks submitted for state approval each year.

The state’s attorney general at the time, Dan Morales, issued an opinion in 1996 confirming that the Legislature had acted properly and clearly. Under the law, the SBOE must approve textbooks that conform to state curriculum standards, are free of errors and meet manufacturing requirements. Board members have worked to undermine that law ever since and have lobbied legislators to change it. Lawmakers have refused to do so, most recently in the 2005 legislative session.

“It’s time that Terri Leo and her supporters on the board take ‘no’ for an answer,” Quinn said. “They try nearly every year to censor what our children learn because of personal objections to content in textbooks. Legislators clearly have no interest in giving board members more room to abuse their authority. Neither should the attorney general.”