A live video webcast of the Texas State Board of Education debate over proposed new social studies curriculum standards is available here. 1:20 - We're still here, but the board is debating relatively minor points. We haven't even gotten to the most controversial items likely to come up today. 1:21 - Board member David Bradley wants third-grade students to study the impact of taxes and government regulations on consumer prices. In third grade? It passes. 1:32 - The board is taking an hour break for lunch. We'll be back then. 2:50 - The board has resumed debate after the lunch break. 3:07 - Conservative board members earlier today refused to restore Dolores Huerta to a third-grade standard in large part because they say she's a socialist and, thus, an inappropriate role model for students. In addition, board member David Bradley argued that Huerta is still alive and historical figures, he says, should be dead. Well. The board just added Wallace Jefferson, the Republican chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court, to a standard in the fourth-grade class on Texas history. None of the board members, including Bradley, objected. Perhaps Republicans are exempt from Bradley's "should be dead" rule for inclusion in history standards. Read More
9:30 – The State Board of Education is about to begin debate on the proposed social studies curriculum standards. Education Commissioner Robert Scott, an appointee of Republican Gov. Rick Perry, just launched into an attack on the board’s critics. He encouraged the board to dismiss critics and push ahead with the standards. The commissioner also suggested that the board should be careful about delaying final approve of the social studies standards. But why? The board on Tuesday delayed indefinitely a decision to adopt new science textbooks, something originally scheduled for next year. That pushes the adoption of social studies textbooks — which will be based on the new standards — out even further. There’s plenty of time for the board to let teachers and scholars review the scores of changes board members made to the standards in January and March (in addition to those changes that they will make today). These standards will be in place for the next decade. Isn’t it more important to get this right than insist on meeting what is now an… Read More
2:00 - The state board resumed testimony about a half-hour ago. Various state legislators are currently speaking to the board, calling for a delay in final adoption of the standards until teachers and academics experts are able to conduct a formal review of changes made over the last three months. 2:25 - State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, just schooled the state board on its responsibilities under the law. He calls on the board to delay final approval of the standards until Texans are assured those standards are sound. 2:34 - State Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, is speaking to the board now. Rep. Turner peeled the paint off the barn in his speech at the Don't White-Out Our History rally earlier this afternoon outside the Texas Education Agency building. 3:15 - The board is back on the list of those who signed up to testify. 3:56 - We've heard from little more than 10 percent of the more than 200 people signed up to testify today. No word yet on whether the board will cut off testimony at a certain time. 4:04 - A University of Texas student is schooling board members about issues like the struggle for equal and civil rights for men and women. Read More
11:23 – Kelly Shackelford, head of the Liberty Institute/Free Market Foundation, the Texas affiliate of the far-right Focus on the Family, is up. Shackelford argues that the words “separation of church and state” aren’t in the Constitution. Neither, we might say, is “fair trial,” “separation of powers” “checks and balances” and other basic constitutional principles. Shackelford thinks “separation of church” is being used to “abuse” the freedom of students. He wants students to contrast the intent of the Founders (or what he believes was the intent of the Founders) who wrote the Constitution with the phrase “separation of church and state.”
11:32 – Board member David Bradley calls separation of church and state a “myth.” He notes that the Ten Commandments adorn federal buildings like the Supreme Court.
11:34 – Shackelford: There are people who want to engage in a “religious cleansing” in this country. He argues that students are being punished for expressing their faith in public schools.
11:37 – Board member Cynthia Dunbar: “tremendous confusion” about how the First Amendment should be implemented in relation to religious freedom. It’s hard to disagree — people like Dunbar and Shackelford have worked hard make it confusing.
11:39 – Board member… Read More
A live video webcast of today's hearing is available through the Texas Education Agency website. 9:10 - Public testimony on the proposed new social studies curriculum standards just began. First speaker: the Rev. Stephen Broden, who's arguing that social studies students must learn the Judeo-Christian heritage of the nation. His testimony is right out of the WallBuilders playbook. 9:16 - Board member Lawrence Allen asks Rev. Broden whether he thinks a focus on Judeo-Christian values in the standards would be representative of all faiths practiced in America. Rev. Broden says he does. Really? Hindus? Muslims? People of other faiths? 9:19 - Rev. Broden also argued that the standards currently under consideration -- as revised in January and March by the board -- appropriately cover the contributions of minorities in America. (Rev. Broden is African-American.) Board member Rick Agosto asks whether Rev. Broden has actually read the standards. Rev. Broden: in a "cursory" way. We should note, by the way, that Rev. Broden is a Republican candidate for Congress in Dallas. 9:26 - Rod Paige, former education secretary under the second President Bush, is up. 9:27 - Paige: "We have allowed ideology to drive and define the standards of our curriculum in Texas. It has swung from liberal to conservative." (We're waiting for evidence that the Republican-dominated board and then-Gov. Bush's education commissioner in 1998 adopted "liberal" curriculum standards.) The swing has been too broad, Paige says. 9:29 - Paige wants the board to reconsider how the standards cover the history of slavery and the civil rights movement: "I'm of the view that the institution of slavery and the civil rights movement are dominant elements in our history and shape who we are today." 9:30 - Paige acknowledges comments from board members that the standards should be "fair" ("balanced," we have heard). Yet, he says, history isn't fair; it is what it is. The standards should teach the facts, he says. Read More