Texas State Board of Education member Cynthia Dunbar, R-Richmond, has been defending her action removing Thomas Jefferson from world history curriculum standards by disingenuously claiming his inclusion simply wasn't "germane." And during this month's state board meeting, she complained that critics were wrong in charging that she and other far-right board members were trying to force their religious views into public school classrooms. But the truth often has a way of finding its way to light: Dunbar opposes teaching world history students about Jefferson because she defiantly opposes his conviction that mixing government and religion is a threat to freedom for all. Ed Brayton at Dispatches from the Culture Wars notes that Dunbar is scheduled to appear  on May 1 at a rally in the nation's capital (May Day 2010: A Cry to God for a Nation in Distress). She reportedly will call on God to forgive America for supposedly removing Him from American schools. Here is how rally organizer Janet Porter, founder of the fringe religious-right organization Faith2Actiondescribes what Dunbar will tell rally participants: "She is going to come to May Day and repent…… Read More

The Texas State Board of Education is getting a lot of (well-deserved) flak for dropping Thomas Jefferson, primary author of the American Declaration of Independence, from the world history curriculum standards for public schools. And board member Cynthia Dunbar, R-Richmond, who proposed striking Jefferson from those standards, is offering an absurd excuse for what she did. Dunbar has been reminding reporters that Jefferson still appears in standards for American history and arguing that his inclusion in the world history standards was inappropriate: "It's just an issue of being germane. It was world history, and it was a list of political philosophers (from which Jefferson got removed). He's mentioned in U.S. history and in government where you talk about the Founding Fathers and the political philosophers." Dunbar's statement is both outrageously ignorant and deeply hypocritical. 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

First, the good news: At least two members of the Texas State Board of Education's far-right faction won't be there in 2011. Cynthia "Public Education Is a Tool of Perversion" Dunbar, R-Richmond, got so much heat for her extremism -- including outrageous attacks on public schools -- that she decided not to run for re-election. Then Don "Somebody's Got to Stand Up to the Experts" McLeroy, R-College Station, lost his re-election battle to Thomas Ratliff, R-Mountain Pleasant. Mixed news: Brian Russell, the Austin attorney Dunbar recruited to run for her seat, was forced into a Republican runoff against Marsha Farney of Georgetown. Bad news: San Antonio incumbent Ken "Dog-Cat" Mercer won his Republican primary race against challenger Tim Tuggey of Austin. That means the board's far-right faction will still have at least five and as many as six members in 2011 -- still be enough to distrupt and distract the board's attention with "culture war" nonsense. Even so, yesterday's elections -- including Bob Craig's win over a far-right challenger in West Texas -- represented a major step forward for supporters of public education in Texas. Read More

Don McLeroy has some explaining to do. Texas Monthly's Paul Burka reports this revealing quote from McLeroy, a Republican seeking re-election to the Texas State Board of Education, at a recent campaign debate: “One of the first real breaches of limited government was public education.” What in the world? Someone who has been on the State Board of Education for a decade, who served one term as its chairman, and who sent his children to public schools now tells us he thinks public education violates the principle of limited government?…… Read More