9:45 – The State Board of Education has begun today’s hearing proposed new social studies curriculum standards for Texas public schools. State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin, is objecting to efforts to downplay the significance of Cesar Chavez and Thurgood Marshall in the new standards.
9:47 – A live video Webcast of the hearing is available here.
9:53 – Latino members of the State Board of Education are also speaking out on the importance of including the contributions of Latinos in our state and national history.
10:02 – TFN President Kathy Miller is now speaking before the board.
10:03 – Kathy is expressing her concerns about the process the state board has taken to this point in the standards revision. “It really looks like (the state board is) putting politics ahead of sound scholarship and quality education in our classrooms.”
10:04 – “Even the writing teams are feeling the heightened politicization of the process.”
10:05 – Kathy: This politicization is eroding the faith that parents might have that the process will result in standards that give their kids a sound education.
10:08 – Yannis Banks of the Texas NAACP expresses his dismay at suggestions that Thurgood Marshall isn’t a… Read More
TFN Insider will be blogging today from the Texas State Board of Education hearing on proposed new social studies curriculum standards. The Dallas Morning News provides a good preview of the expected debate over the standards. Money quote:
“Unlike science, where most of the debate was over evolution, the list of items to be discussed for social studies is long, ranging from which historical figures should be covered in class to what role Christianity and the Bible played in the founding of the nation. And with an elected board that reflects political tension over social issues, the process is sure to play out as yet another front in the nation’s culture war.”
The meeting begins at 9 a.m., with the social studies item third on the agenda. Click here for more information about the debate.
UPDATE: The Houston Chronicle and Austin American-Statesman also have good previews of today’s meeting. We particularly liked the following quote in the Statesman from John Fea, a history professor at Messiah College, a Christian school in Pennsylvania. Fea spoke about ideologues who are trying to revise the standards in a way that supports their arguments… Read More
2:50 p.m. - It looks like the Texas Senate is about to begin discussion of nominations, including Don McLeroy as chairman of the State Board of Education. You can watch the Webcast here or follow along on TFN Insider. 2:55 - Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, moves to sever McLeroy from the nominations list. The request is granted, and the Senate now votes to confirm the entire nominations list except for McLeroy. 2:57 - Sen. Mike Jackson, R-La Porte, chairman of the Senate Nominations Committee, rises to speak for McLeroy. Sen. Jackson basically reads through McLeroy's resume and then moves for his confirmation. 3:00 - Sen. Van de Putte rises to speak against McLeroy's confirmation. She notes that she is calling for the rejection of a nomination for the first time in her legislative career: "He's a decent man. He's a good man. My opposition to his position as chair has nothing to do with this man of faith and this man, I think, of internal courage and this veteran. My opposition to the chairman of our State Board of Education has to do with his management and leadership style. . . . We've been amazed by the divisiveness and the dsyfunctionality of the board." 3:03 - Sen. Van de Putte: Under McLeroy's leadership, the state board "has become the laughingstock of the nation." 3:06 - Sen. Van de Putte goes through a long list of problems that have plagued the state board under McLeroy's leadership, including divisive "culture war" battles, official actions in violation of state law and disregard for the work of educators and specialists. Read More
The Senate Nominations Committee is considering Don McLeroy's appointment as chairman of the Texas State Board of Education. Gov. Rick Perry appointed McLeroy as chairman in July 2007, after the last legislative session. The Senate now has the chance to confirm or reject McLeroy's appointment. 4:55 - Dr. McLeroy, a Bryan dentist, is now before the Senate Nominations Committee. The committee will ask him questions about his role as Texas State Board of Education chairman and then take testimony from others wanting to speak out his appointment. 5:01 - Dr. McLeroy is defending the state board's role in the curriculum and textbook adoption process. The Legislature is considering a slew of bills -- including Senate Bill 2275 -- that would strip the board of that authority. Dr. McLeroy argues that the state board has ensured that Texas has better curriculum standards. 5:05 - "We have much better textbooks because of the process of going through the State Board of Education." Really, Dr. McLeroy? Will we have better science textbooks if they teach junk science because you reject evolution and want publishers to do the same? 5:07 - Dr. McLeroy calls the science curriculum revision "phenomenal" and praises the "compromise" standards adopted. 5:16 - Dr. McLeroy is crowing about the state board's rejection of a mathematics textbook in 2007. The board, in fact, violated state law in rejecting the textbook. The law requires the board to approve textbooks that meet curriculum standards, are free of factual errors and meet manufacturing standards. The textbook met all of those, but the McLeroy majority rejected it without giving a reason. Dr. McLeroy later said the vote "set a precedent" for how the board could pressure publishers on other textbooks. 5:31 - Sen. Eliot Shapleigh, D-El Paso, is now asking Dr. McLeroy questions. "Is it your mission on this board to take all students in the state of Texas down the path of your religious beliefs?" 5:33 - McLeroy: My purpose has never been religious indoctrination. 5:34 - Sen. Shapleigh asks about a previous statement by McLeroy that only "orthodox" Christians -- like him -- on the state board had opposed biology textbooks that didn't challenge evolution. 5:34 - McLeroy: I also complimented other board members as fine Christians. He's missing the point of the question: if McLeroy's opposition to evolution in science classrooms has nothing to do with religion, then why would he say only "orthodox" Christians oppose biology textbooks that challenge evolution? 5:36 - Sen. Shapleigh asks about McLeroy's beliefs about evolution. McLeroy acknowledges that is is his personal belief that Earth is only 6,000 years old. Read More
The Texas House Public Education Committee is about to take up two key bills that would bring important reforms to what the state’s public schools teach about sex education. Click here for a live video webcast of the hearing. (Then click on LiveStream 6 for the Public Education Committee meeting.) TFN Insider will also be providing updates.
6:00 – Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, is now laying out House Bill 741, which would require Texas public schools to teach comprehensive — or “abstinence-plus” — sexuality education if they teach about sexual health at all. Rep. Castro notes that Texas has the nation’s third-highest rate of teen births, a statistic that itself argues for major changes to the state’s predominantly abstinence-only approach to sexuality education. (Parents would still have the right to opt their children out of such classes.)
6:08 – Rep. Castro notes the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund’s groundbreaking report on sexuality education in Texas public schools.
6:22 – Dr. Jan Realini, president of the Healthy Futures in San Antonio and member of the Texas Medical Association Council on Public Health, offers powerful testimony for arming teens with medically accurate information… Read More