Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott raised eyebrows last month when he and State Board of Education members engaged in a discussion of the intense focus on testing students. Scott, an appointee of Gov. Rick Perry, called the overemphasis on testing at the state and local level a “perversion” of what accountability proponents had intended.
You might be surprised to know that religious-right groups also haven’t been big fans of state standardized tests. But over-testing hasn’t been their concern. We found in our files a Dallas Morning News article from March 5, 1996, (“Criticism about TAAS puzzles some officials,” no link) about opposition to the state’s standardized test at the time. Here’s an excerpt:
Kelly Shackelford of the Rutherford Institute says many of his clients think the tests are really a tool for “liberal, educratic elitists” who want to monitor students’ values and undercut their religious beliefs.
For example, in 1992 a state-administered test used a reading passage and graphs on the number of followers of different religions around the world. The parents complained that the question was designed to make all religions look equal, therefore undermining their children’s Christian beliefs.
They are also concerned that the… Read More
Texas Eagle Forum today announced that its current president, Pat Carlson, is stepping down because she is seeking election to the Texas House of Representatives. (We reported about Carlson's House run here.) Her replacement is Cathie Adams, who had served as TEF's president until she became chair of the Texas Republican Party in fall 2009. But Adams wasn't too popular among Republican activists -- she lost her post as state party chair in 2010. Adams is one of the most extreme voices on the far right in Texas today. How extreme? Let's take a walk down memory lane. - Adams sees religious diversity as a threat to this country. From an October 1999 TEF letter: "(W)e must place our faith in the ONE true God, then humble ourselves, pray and seek Him and repent for our sins. Then God will forgive us and heal our land. Do you think that a jealous God will tolerate ‘religious pluralism’ and allow us to come to Him any way we please? Absolutely not!" - Adams believes that the United Nations is paving the way for the "anti-Christ." From a 2000 TEF letter: "The Bible tells us that in the end times there will be a world government headed by a world leader, called the anti-Christ, who will profess a world religion, but did you ever think you would live in the day when these things would come into being? That is exactly what the United Nations is doing behind the backs of most Americans." From a January 1999 TEF newsletter: "In the future, the anti-Christ will use the pleas for human rights, economic equity and a promise to ‘end all wars’ to found global government. . . . God is not the author of global government, the anti-Christ is, and the UN conspicuously manifests his warmongering spirit." - Adams has compared President Obama to Adolf Hitler, suggesting that a speech to American students was “eerily like Hitler’s youth movement.” - In an e-mail to far-right activists in 2008, Adams viciously attacked the faith of then-candidate Obama (page 40): "While many question Barak [sic] Hussein Obama’s 'religion'…, the more important question is whether he has a 'relationship' with Jesus Christ because that is the only HOPE that any of us have to obtain eternal life. I personally see NO evidence that Obama has that kind of 'saving faith.'" - Adams is an anti-science zealot. Criticizing evolution in an October 2003 email to TEF activists during the Texas State Board of Education's debate over proposed new science textbooks: "Did you evolve from an ape or were you created by God? This is NOT a rhetorical question. Your child or grandchild WILL be taught according to what you choose now." Read More
Pat Carlson, president of the radical-right group Texas Eagle Forum, has filed to run for the District 91 seat in the Texas House of Representatives. The Fort Worth Republican used TEF’s e-newsletter Monday to announce her run for the open seat. (Republican incumbent Kevin Hancock is seeking a state Senate seat.) Carlson told TEF activists:
“I am seeking this position to be a ‘citizen legislator’ going to Austin to hold back the overreach of government.”
“Overreach”? Well, considering her own fringe political views, Carlson should know the meaning of that word.
She claims, for example, that mainstream organizations like the Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund and the World Wildlife Federation are actually “radical environmental groups” that have “have brainwashed a generation of young people into believing the planet is in environmental distress.” (Yeah, never mind massive oil spills that pollute our water and beaches, smog that chokes cities and their residents, chemical and nuclear calamities, increasingly erratic climate patterns, and… well, you get the point. Carlson thinks concerns over those very real challenges are simply products of “brainwashing.”)
Texas Eagle Forum’s December “News and Notes” e-newsletter offers more of the bigotry and pro-ignorance rhetoric we’ve come to expect from that far-right group.
Part of TEF President Pat Carlson’s email notes a Dallas Morning News report about a whisper campaign that led State Board of Education member George Clayton, R-Richardson, to acknowledge recently that he is gay. The newsletter continues:
Because of redistricting, all 15 SBOE seats will be up for election in 2012. We need to recruit and elect/re-elect true conservatives to these important positions so Texas will not go the way of Massachusetts or California in mandating K-12 pro-homosexual education in the classroom.
Gay people can’t be “true conservatives”? Perhaps Carlson’s version of a “true conservative” is one who promotes fear and hate toward people who are different. And what exactly does she mean by a “pro-homosexual education in the classroom”? To our knowledge, Clayton has never even mentioned the issue of sexual orientation in his time on the state board (not, at least, until his personal life was the subject of a whisper campaign by political opponents). Most likely, Carlson simply wants to make sure that state board members don’t… Read More
We were perusing through the far-right Texas Eagle Forum's website the other day and found this: The Eagle Forum's legislative scorecard for the 82nd Legislature that concluded mid-summer. Ranking as the most conservative on the Eagle Forum's list, and the only legislator — in the House or Senate — to receive a 100 percent rating was Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center. It means Rep. Christian voted in lockstep with the Eagles Forum's issues on everything, including the abortion sonogram bill, the attempt to replace Speaker Joe Straus with a so-called "real conservative," the fight against the Sharia Law boogeyman, defunding Planned Parenthood and sending the message to schoolchildren that, hey, bullying is just a rite of passage. Read More