The Texas Freedom Network sent out the following press release today:

SBOE Chair Lowe’s Explanation for Dropping Jefferson from Standard Doesn’t Hold Water

TFN President Kathy Miller Points Out the Distorted History Promoted by Board Extremists

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 19, 2010

Texas State Board of Education chairwoman Gail Lowe’s explanation for the board’s deletion of Thomas Jefferson from world history curriculum standards is deeply disingenuous, the president of the Texas Freedom Network said today.

TFN President Kathy Miller was responding to a statement from Lowe released today by the Texas Education Agency. Lowe criticized media coverage of the board’s vote last week to strip Jefferson from a standard requiring students to study great political thinkers who influenced political revolutions from 1750 to the present. Lowe notes that Jefferson remains in American history and government standards. But that misses the point, Miller said.

“This isn’t a contest to see how many times someone is included in the standards,” Miller said. “The issue here is why the board would not want students to learn that people struggling for freedom around the world have looked for more than two centuries to Thomas Jefferson and his ideals for inspiration. This is yet… Read More

Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller released the following statement after a divided State Board of Education gave preliminary approval to new social studies curriculum standards for Texas public schools: “Some board members themselves acknowledged this morning that the process for revising curriculum standards in Texas is seriously broken, with politics and personal agendas dominating just about every decision. We could probably choose a handful of names at random from a phone book and find folks who demonstrate more competence and responsibility in deciding what nearly 5 million Texas kids learn in their public school classrooms."…… Read More

Today the Texas State Board of Education voted to reject an amendment to social studies curriculum standards that would require students to learn that the nation’s Founders “protected religious freedom by barring government from promoting or disfavoring any particular religion over all others.” The party-line vote — 10 Republicans against and 5 Democrats in favor of the amendment — strips away any pretense that this board respects one of the most important freedoms enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. Here is the exchange that just occurred on the board:

12:28 – Board member Mavis Knight offers the following amendment: “examine the reasons the Founding Fathers protected religious freedom in America by barring government from promoting or disfavoring any particular religion over all others.” Knight points out that students should understand that the Founders believed religious freedom was so important that they insisted on separation of church and state.

12:32 – Board member Cynthia Dunbar argues that the Founders didn’t intend for separation of church and state in America. And she’s off on a long lecture about why the Founders intended to promote religion. She calls this amendment “not historically accurate.”

12:35 – Knight’s amendment fails on a straight party-line vote, 5-10.… Read More

Primary Day on March 2 will provide a good indication of just how much Texas Republicans really respect religious freedom in America.

Republican primary voters will be able to register their opinions on five resolutions — a proposed voter identification law, a measure limiting government growth, a call for cuts in federal income taxes, a requirement forcing women seeking an abortion first to undergo and view a sonogram, and this one:

Ballot Proposition #4: Public Acknowledgement of God

The use of the word “God”, prayers, and the Ten Commandments should be allowed at public gatherings and public educational institutions, as well as be permitted on government buildings and property.

YES or NO

We wonder if, while they’re at it, Republicans will also let us know their opinions about other freedoms protected by the First Amendment: speech, press, the right of peaceful assembly and the right to petition the government.… Read More

We have seen a series of stories in the last few days about the coming debate at the State Board of Education this week on proposed new social studies curriculum standards in Texas public schools. The Austin American-Statesman yesterday looked at efforts by conservative evangelicals to require that students learn that the United States was founded as a Christian nation based on biblical principles. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram also previewed this week's meeting here. But one of the best overviews of the looming fight comes in the Texas Tribune today. The piece offers an excellent examination of the right-wing political extremism that has infected the curriculum revision process and who is behind it. (Go ahead. Guess.)…… Read More