CORRECTION: The House approval of HB 710 this evening was on second reading. The House must pass it on third reading, probably tomorrow, to send it to the Senate. Even so, tonight was a very important step forward. Edited post follows:

Defying far-right pressure groups that flooded Capitol offices with misleading calls and e-mails, the Texas House has just approved on second reading House Bill 710, which would make the State Board of Education subject to periodic review by the Sunset Advisory Commission. The vote was 74-68, and the House must pass it on third reading to send it to the Senate.

The House earlier this session passed HJR 77 and HB 2037, which would take control over the Permanent School Fund from the state board and put it in the hands of finance professionals. In addition, the House has passed HB 772, which would require the state board to broadcast video and audio of its meetings live over the Internet so that taxpayers can watch board members do their work.

Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller released the following statement after this evening’s House vote:

“The… Read More

UPDATE: As Lee notes in his comment below, the House didn't get to HB 710 on Monday. It's on the House supplemental calendar for today (Tuesday, May 5). Here's another of the apparently countless reasons why one shouldn't rely on the far-right Free Market Foundation Focus on the Family-Texas for information. Free Market says it is circulating a flier on the floor of the Texas House calling for representatives to oppose House Bill 710 when it comes up for a vote today. HB 710 by Rep. Patrick Rose, D-Dripping Springs, would make the Texas State Board of Education subject to periodic review by the Sunset Advisory Commission. We haven't seen the flier, but we wonder if this factoid from Free Market's blog made it on there (as it did in a Free Market alert to the group's e-mail list earlier today): This bill requires the State Board of Education to be subject to “Sunset Review”, which is a form of periodic review where a group of 10 elected officials and 2 unelected officials review state agencies and have the ability to abolish such agencies. If HB 710…… Read More

Far-right groups are blasting out e-mails calling on their foot soldiers to contact legisators in opposition to bills that would rein in the Texas State Board of Education's authority. We wonder: why aren't mainstream conservative groups coming out in opposition to common-sense legislation that puts management of the Permanent School Fund in the hands of real finance experts? Legislation that takes control over what 4.7 million Texas schoolchildren learn out of the hands of ideologues who claim public schools are "tools of perversion," "unconstitutional" and "tyranical"? Legislation that simply requires the state board to justify its actions and show that it is doing its intended job? Legislation that puts the education of our schoolchildren ahead of fringe agendas?…… Read More

Mocking the stone age science at the Texas State Board of Education has now gone viral — late-night comedians have the rest of the country laughing at us. Bill Maher de-pantsed the governor on last Friday’s episode of his HBO series Real Time with Bill Maher.

He [Perry] appointed a creationist to head the Texas State Board of Education, which is shocking. Texas has a board of education?!?

Ouch.

And Maher surely speaks for scientists everywhere when he scolds Texas politicians who had a sudden come-to-science moment last week when confonted with the outbreak of swine flu.

You can’t crap all over Darwin and stem cell research and global warming, then come crawling back to science when you want Tamiflu.

Watch the whole embarrassing segment (warning: Maher’s language is colorful).… Read More

UPDATE: The House has postponed consideration of HB 710 until Monday.

Another bill designed to rein in the Texas State Board of Education is moving in the Legislature. State Rep. Patrick Rose’s House Bill 710, which would put the state board under periodic “Sunset review,” is headed to the House floor. The bill, which easily passed the House Public Education Committee on March 26, is on the General State Calendar for Saturday.

Sunset review essentially forces a state agency to justify its existence. From the Sunset Advisory Commission’s Web site:

In 1977, the Texas Legislature created the Sunset Advisory Commission to identify and eliminate waste, duplication, and inefficiency in government agencies. The 12-member Commission is a legislative body that reviews the policies and programs of more than 150 government agencies every 12 years. The Commission questions the need for each agency, looks for potential duplication of other public services or programs, and considers new and innovative changes to improve each agency’s operations and activities. The Commission seeks public input through hearings on every agency under Sunset review and recommends actions on each agency to the full Legislature. In most cases,… Read More