SBOE Right-Wingers in a Snit

At their meeting in Austin yesterday, far-right members of the Texas State Board of Education complained that the news media had blown out of proportion calls by conservative “expert” curriculum reviewers (appointed by those board members) to  remove liberal historical figures like Cesar Chavez and Thurgood Marshall from social studies curriculum standards.

Terri Leo, R-Spring, and her allies on the board insisted that the reviewers were only stating their opinions and that there was no organized effort to censor liberals and minorities in the standards. Ms. Leo, in fact, indignantly criticized “the media’s huge ‘knee-jerk’ reaction when this process hasn’t even started yet.”

Good grief. Ms. Leo must have selective amnesia.

Board members blew a gasket in March when a far-right group claimed that curriculum writing teams were crafting standards that left out important historical figures like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. (That turned out to be a bogus charge.) They also accused the teams of trying to undermine support for “free enterprise” by (gasp!) calling it “capitalism” instead. (Conservative board members claim that “capitalism” has a negative connotation and note that “free enterprise” is the term used in relevant statute anyway.)

Ms. Leo, in particular, was throwing around accusations that the writing teams were undermining patriotism. Social conservatives on and off the board blamed “radicals” on the teams. In a sneering e-mail newsletter a few weeks later, Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, claimed that the “education establishment” was trying “to hijack the social studies curriculum and replace the Founding Fathers and American values with freedom-bashing Multiculturalism 101.”

As we have pointed out, all that criticism was political nonsense and part of an ambush of the curriculum writing teams. The reality is that the materials board members were attacking in March came from preliminary and incomplete drafts that were leaked by then-chairman Don McLeroy to a political pressure group. That preliminary work didn’t represent what the writing teams were actually planning to recommend.

Many teachers and others on those writing teams, who weren’t given a chance to defend themselves at the March meeting, have been frustrated by the unfair attacks on their work. From an e-mail a teacher later sent one of the board members (although not a member of the board’s far-right faction):

“I would like to apologize for being a part of creating political controversy over the revision of the economics TEKS (standards). The economics committee has clearly illustrated that we are political neophytes. We had no idea that we were doing anything controversial or unacceptable. I can assure you that had we realized we would be creating controversy we would not have done this.”

So there you have it. Teachers feel the need to apologize because political extremists unfairly took their work out of context and labeled them unpatriotic radicals. And now Ms. Leo and her allies are crying foul about what they call “knee-jerk reactions” by the news media. Never mind that reporters and editorial boards are critiquing formal, written reviews submitted by board-appointed “experts” as a part of the public review process.

Such hypocrisy.

11 thoughts on “SBOE Right-Wingers in a Snit

  1. Good going TFN. Show them up to be the hypocrits they really are. Keep the pressure on and don’t let them rest.

    The wingnuts on the SBOE deserve the maximum amount of grief the media can provide. This is the reward they get for all their bad behavior.

    Leo is a fool and so is Cargill. They never stop to think before they speak. Don’t they realize that everything they say is recorded for the media to review and report their hypocrisy?

    No wonder the GOP is percieved as racists.

  2. FYI, on McLeroy’s own personal web page, he uses the phrase “free enterprise capitalism.” It’s on the page called “The Rejected Textbook.” Watch out, though. Reading it hurts your head.

  3. I think two quotes from Mark Twain are appropriate for the radical SBOE faction and the lighted shined on darkness by newspapers:

    The devil’s aversion to holy water is a light matter compared with a despot’s dread of a newspaper that laughs.
    – “The American Press,” first printed in Mark Twain: Press Critic, University of California, 2003.

    I am personally acquainted with hundreds of journalists, and the opinion of the majority of them would not be worth tuppence in private, but when they speak in print it is the newspaper that is talking (the pygmy scribe is not visible) and then their utterances shake the community like the thunders of prophecy.
    – speech, 2/1873

  4. “Free enterprise capitalism” must mean something like ‘capitalism on steroids.’ Sorta like the kind of capitalism that has worked out so well for us these past couple of years.

  5. TFN
    I know that this is off topic, but I wanted to ask you guys if you have heard if the state was going to repeal the rule that allowed schools to impose teachers a minimum grade for their students. For example, some school districts require that teachers cannot issue a failing grade lower than a 50. Did the state abolish that rule???? I hope they did!!

  6. Ben. I think it is interesting to note that he trusts no reference source that existed after 1962. This is apparently part of the Christian Neo-Fundamentalist belief that turning the clock back to 1950 would fix all things.

  7. TFN:

    I have an assignment for you. Extensive research on the worldwide web has yielded all sorts of information on Daniel Dreisbach. However, in everything I have looked at—and I do mean everything—there is not even the tiniest statement or clue that reveals this guy’s religious affiliation. It is clear to me that his religious affiliation, what church he attends, and so forth is carefully and purposefully hidden from the public so he can give the appearance of a being an objective and responsible professor of law at American University, who just happens to have “discovered” that the founding fathers never intended church-state separation.

    Please hire a private detective in Austin to investigate this guy and force this guy’s religious affiliation out into the warm sunshine where everyone can plainly see it. As the scriptures say, there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed and shouted from the rooftops. Something is being hidden here, and I want TFN to please jerk the sheet off this guy so we can see his true colors in full spectrum. Thanks!!!

  8. Another Mark Twain quote:

    “In the first place God made idiots. This was for practice. Then He made School Boards.”