New York Times columnist Gail Collins has a new book coming, As Texas Goes…, which looks at how right-wing politics and other shenanigans in Texas have hijacked public policy across the country. You can read two extended excerpts from Collins book (due out this month): one on the textbook wars here and another on sex education here. From the chapter on the textbook wars:

All the bickering and pressuring over the years has caused publishers to shy away from using the kind of clear, lively language that might raise hackles in one corner or another. The more writers were constrained by confusing demands and conflicting requests, the more they produced unreadable mush. Texas, you may not be surprised to hear, has been particularly good at making things mushy. In 2011, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative education think tank, issued an evaluation of US history standards for public schools. The institute was a longtime critic of curricula that insisted that representatives of women and minorities be included in all parts of American history. But the authors, Sheldon Stern and Jeremy Stern, really hated what the Texas board had done. Besides incorporating “all the… Read More

Today is the 11th Annual National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. The Texas Freedom Network continues to promote responsible, evidence-based sex education in Texas, a state with one of the highest teen birthrates in the nation. You can help by signing a petition calling for comprehensive sex education to keep young people safe and healthy. Interested in working for change in your local community? We’ll give you the tools you need to volunteer to serve on the local School Health Advisory Council that recommends policies on sex education and other health education issues in your school district. Click here to learn more.Read More

We told you yesterday that Gail Spurlock, who is seeking the Republican nomination for the District 12 State Board of Education seat in Texas, thinks the early Pilgrims were communists. Her views about sex education are similarly — how should we say — “out there.” In her interview with the right-wing North Texas Council, Spurlock said she thinks any mention of sex education in the public school health curriculum should be removed. And why is that?

“Society has been reproducing for thousands and thousands of years. I don’t think it’s something you need to teach children in schools. Even if we never say a word, they’re gonna figure it out. It’s not that tough.”

Here’s more of her answer:

(You can find the full North Texas Council videos here.)

Spurlock’s comment reminded us of what one rural school superintendent told us in 2007 when the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund surveyed the state’s public schools about what they were teaching on sex education:

“[We are] a small school with 301 students in grades PK to 12. Most of these kids live on a farm or have animals they feed and care… Read More

Someone needs to educate Marty Rowley about sex education.

Speaking on Tuesday at a candidate forum with Republican primary opponent Anette Carlisle, the Texas State Board of Education District 15 candidate explained why he supports an abstinence-only policy on sex education:

“I believe if we pass out condoms at schools we’re saying, ‘Yeah, we’re teaching you about abstinence, but we know you’re not going to pay attention to it, so here’s a condom to make sure that you don’t get pregnant.'”

Good grief. The issue isn’t about passing out condoms to students. In fact, state law bars public schools from distributing condoms as part of sex education classes. But it doesn’t bar schools from teaching students medically accurate information about contraception and STD prevention. Moreover, 80 percent of likely Texas voters, according to our 2010 statewide poll, support giving high school students that information along with emphasizing the importance of abstinence in sex education classes. And evidence shows that sex education actually gets teens to wait before starting to have sex.

Yet most school districts in Texas — a state with one of the highest teen birth rates in the nation — teach abstinence-only… Read More

It’s thinking like this that filters down to school sex ed policies and gives states such as Texas a horrible track record with teen birthrates:

“Back in my days, we used Bayer aspirin for contraception. The gals put it between their knees, and it wasn’t that costly.”

That was said today by mutual fund manager Foster Friess, who — along with his deep pockets — is supporting Republican presidential contender Rick Santorum.

Let us repeat: That was said today, in the 21st century, not a hundred years ago.

Seriously, these guys are giving us a headache. If only there was something we could take for that. If only.… Read More


WCA honored @BenavidezVal of @TFN with the 2020 Gene Barnwell Waugh Mentor #Award. Her communication #mentorship has been integral to building young leaders who mobilize & create grassroots advocacy. Learn more about the founder of Texas Rising