Perhaps the irony escaped them. Today Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Senate Education Committee Chairman Dan Patrick, R-Houston, held a press conference at a Catholic elementary school in Austin to talk about reforming public education.

Now think about that a minute. Two of the most important elected leaders on education in the Texas Senate — which along with the state House of Representatives is tasked by the state Constitution “to establish and make suitable provision for the support and maintenance of an efficient system of public free schools” — brought reporters to a private school to talk about public education reform.

That, of course, begs the question: just where do their priorities lie? And what schools are they trying to help?

Two years ago Lt. Gov. Dewhurst and Sen. Patrick helped lead efforts to cut more than $5 billion in funding for Texas public schools. Thousands of teachers lost their jobs. Courses were dropped, and classrooms got more crowded. Schools couldn’t buy textbooks and other instructional materials. And today these two elected officials went to a private school not to talk about restoring some of those draconian budget cuts. No, they went there to talk about the need… Read More

That’s the headline to a piece by New York Times columnist Charles Blow. Blow suggests that confusing comments by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, about his thoughts on the age of Earth are just another example of modern American conservatism trapped in the grip of anti-intellectual zealots. Money quote:

This anti-intellectualism is antediluvian. No wonder a 2009 Pew Research Center report found that only 6 percent of scientists identified as Republican and 9 percent identified as conservative.

Furthermore, a 2005 study found that just 11 percent of college professors identified as Republican and 15 percent identified as conservative. Some argue that this simply represents a liberal bias in academia. But just as strong a case could be made that people who absorb facts easily don’t suffer fools gladly.

Last month, Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, the chairman of the Republican Governors Association, said on CNN:

“We need to stop being the dumb party. We need to offer smart, conservative, intelligent ideas and policies.”

Unfortunately, as Blow then points out, Jindal has signed into Louisiana law a voucher scheme for using public tax dollars to fund religious schools that teach, among other nonsense, that the

This Friday we’ll be monitoring a state senate photo op committee hearing here in Austin on one of the longstanding pet causes for the far right: school vouchers.

Yes, vouchers are back. Again. After failing to pass voucher legislation at each legislative session since 1995, the far right seems poised to try, try again next year when they reconvene for the 83rd Texas Legislative Session.

We’ve said it many times before: All voucher schemes accomplish is to drain scarce taxpayer funds from public schools and funnel them to private and religiously affiliated schools. And, if you were paying attention during the 2011 Legislative session, public schools don’t have much more to give after lawmakers stripped school district budgets of roughly $4 billion.

But such concerns won’t stop the far right from giving it another shot. State Sen. Dan Patrick, who will act as chair at Friday’s Senate Committee on Education hearing, made his intentions quite clear in a Houston Chronicle story just a few weeks ago:

“To me, school choice is the photo ID bill of this session. Our base has wanted us to pass photo voter ID for years, and we did it. They’ve been wanting us… Read More

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has some gall. In the wake of this week's silly spat over the Doonesbury series of comic strips depicting a woman undergoing a state-forced transvaginal sonogram before getting a completely legal medical procedure, Huckabee called out Doonesbury author Garry Trudeau for not checking his facts. In doing so, Huckabee ironically failed to check his facts and instead relied on — of all people — far-right Texas state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, for his information. Read More

Watercolor depiction of the Statue of Liberty with the face of Jesus Christ, by far-right state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston.

That is all.

(h/t Texas Independent)

UPDATE This is how Sen. Patrick explained his painting on his Facebook page:

In teaching myself how to watercolor I was trying different styles. After a beach scene, I decided to try a Peter Max type of painting of the Statue of Liberty. I could not get the fact right and used water to remove the paint on her face. When it dried and I tried to clean it up suddently the face of Jesus appeared so clearly. It struck me that Jesus face on the Statue of Liberty sends an incredible message that the real light that our country has sent in the past, and needs to send once again today, is we are a nation that stands on His Word This was only my 4th try at a painting I had no idea of how to paint the face of Jesus, nor was I trying to do so… Read More