Well, this is an odd twist. David Bradley -- a supposed champion of the wisdom of free markets -- thinks the Texas State Board of Education will do a better job than the private sector in deciding whether it's too risky to invest in charter schools. (Of course, some board members also think they know more about science and history than scientists and historians. So are you surprised?) An article in the Austin American-Statesman today explains that Bradley, a Republican state board member from Beaumont Buna, wants the board to consider investing part of the Permanent School Fund's $22 billion in facilities for charter schools. The chair of the state board's Finance Committee and a longtime proponent of charter schools says he "would like to see if this a sector of the market that is mature enough and would offer some opportunity." Private investors don't seem to think so. The Statesman points out that charter schools don't have what investors typically look for: established financial track records, adequate cash reserves and long-term security. Read More

We told you at the beginning of the month how racially charged rhetoric is becoming more common in the debate over new social studies curriculum standards for Texas public schools. On Friday we saw another example of race-baiting rhetoric.

Peter Morrison, appointed by State Board of Education member David Bradley, R-BeaumontBuna, to a panel helping revise the social studies standards, appears to be especially obsessed with race. On Friday in a new issue of his e-newsletter, The Peter Morrison Report, he attacked President Obama’s speech to students earlier in the week as an attempt to “indoctrinate” them and “capture the hearts and minds of our kids.” And then he turns to his obsession:

“Obama’s speech contained plenty of propaganda, in both what was said and what was omitted. He told kids that they may face road blocks, such as discrimination. Really? It makes me wonder which kids he’s speaking to, because I’m not sure of where in America minorities are facing discrimination in employment or education. What company won’t hire non-whites? What schools won’t accept minorities? What banks makes loan decisions on skin color?”

“Obama didn’t mention the fact that he’s in favor… Read More

The flap over President Obama’s speech to students on Tuesday has exposed quite a bit of hypocrisy from the far right. Media Matters notes one big batch of hypocrisy from Texas State Board of Education member Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands.

“On NPR’s All Things Considered, host Noah Adams, introducing a report on President Obama’s September 8 speech to schoolchildren, stated that ‘some parents and conservatives … called it a political intrusion into the school day.’ But NPR did not note that one of the conservatives quoted in the report, Texas State Board of Education member Barbara Cargill, has repeatedly engaged in political intrusions into the Texas school system, seeking — sometimes successfully — to change Texas schools’ curriculum to fit her conservative ideology.”

Cargill protested to NPR that the Obama administation had bypassed state and local school boards by sending notices of the speech directly to schools. She said that put schools in a difficult position, forcing them to anger some parents if they let students hear the speech and others if they didn’t. She also worried about students:

“If they (parents) opt their children out, they’re going to feel ostracized. They’re going to… Read More

This is just nuts. The Houston Chronicle is reporting that plans by President Obama to address students across the country next week have right-wingers -- including Texas State Board of Education members -- foaming at the mouth about "political indoctrination" and students being "ostracized" if they don't agree with the president. One Houston-area parent tells the newspaper: “I think it's inappropriate because it smacks of political indoctrination of the worst kind. It's not just a speech. It's a specific curriculum to go along with the speech directly from the president of the United States without review.” Good grief. Read More

The San Antonio Express-News has this story up online today: Texas high school students would learn about such significant individuals and milestones of conservative politics as Newt Gingrich and the rise of the Moral Majority — but nothing about liberals — under the first draft of new standards for public school history textbooks. And the side that got left out is very unhappy. As it stands, students would get “one-sided, right wing ideology,” said Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, chairman of the House Mexican American Caucus. “We ought to be focusing on historical significance and historical figures. It's important that whatever course they take, that it portray a complete view of our history and not a jaded view to suit one's partisan agenda or one's partisan philosophy,” he said. The distinguished legislator is absolutely right, of course. The last thing most parents want is their children's education dragged into partisan politics. But that seems to be where we're headed if the State Board of Education's far-right faction gets its way. Read More