That thousands of children are fleeing to this country to escape crime, violence and poverty in their Central American countries is a true human tragedy. While the Texas Freedom Network does not work on immigration issues, we — like most Americans — want our elected leaders to address this problem responsibly while also treating the children with compassion. After all, those children are innocent victims, having been sent on often perilous journeys to this country.

But extremists on the right appear to have decided to dehumanize those children as disease-ridden, violent criminals who pose a danger to American kids. Take, for example, Alice Linahan. Here’s what the head of Voices Empower, a Texas-based, political consulting firm, posted on Facebook today:

As a Mom who is a legal citizen of the US what are you doing to protect your children come Sept. when they may be exposed in our public school system to infectious disease, gang violence and individuals who have been victimized by sex trafficking? Is your local school district prepared?

Repulsive.

One might expect some of the thousands of children arriving here to be sick, especially considering their difficult journeys. But for the record, vaccination rates in Central American countries are often comparable or even better than those in… Read More

Far-right activists are furious that the State Board of Education on Wednesday moved to make it easier for Texas public schools to offer elective courses in ethnic studies. Now some of those extremists have launched a racially divisive and deeply offensive campaign to stop the board from implementing that plan.

This image from the Facebook page of Voices Empower, a political consulting firm aligned with tea partyers, calls on board members to vote against a preliminary agreement they struck on Wednesday. If the board votes for final approval of that agreement on Friday, the state will ask publishers to submit instructional materials next year for local courses in Mexican-American, African-American, Native American and Asian-American studies. Schools that choose to offer those courses would do so under the state’s Special Topics in Social Studies curriculum standards.

That doesn’t sit well with the extremists at Voices Empower. (Run by Alice Linahan, Voices Empower helped push last year’s anti-CSCOPE witch hunt that portrayed a popular curriculum tool used in hundreds of Texas schools as Marxist, anti-Christian and pro-Muslim. That campaign fizzled when a review sponsored by the State Board of Education found no… Read More

When the State Board of Education‘s public hearing on new science textbooks for Texas public schools finally began late Wednesday night, it became clear that creationists were unable to mount a real attack on the biology textbooks. So all looked to be going well — until it became equally clear that oil and gas industry interests had decided to attack the only environmental science textbook up for adoption by the state board.

The last person to testify, Becky Berger, who identified herself a geologist and oil and gas professional, insisted that high schools shouldn’t even teach environmental science classes. She proceeded to attack the environmental science textbook from publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH). Berger claimed that the textbook is filled with factual errors on topics like pollution potentially caused by hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) and the problem of carbon emissions (which the vast majority of scientists say is the primary cause of climate change). But she provided no actual written documentation to back up her claims. None. In fact, she didn’t even provide a list of the alleged errors so that the publisher could respond to her claims.

The state’s official review teams had not identified any factual errors in the… Read More

The Austin-based news website Quorum Report (subscription required) today notes that the entity that helped organize Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst’s Monday press conference attacking the CSCOPE curriculum management system is a for-profit, “Tea-Party-for-hire group” that goes by the name Voices Empower. Run by North Texas political activist Alice Linahan, Voices Empower specializes in marketing and political consulting.

Voices Empower is also behind a website calling for the impeachment of State Board of Education member Thomas Ratliff, R-Mount Pleasant. Ratliff has been a vocal critic of the anti-CSCOPE political witch hunt.

This is interesting for a couple of reasons.

First, Dewhurst declared at his press conference yesterday that he “personally (has) a problem with any effort to politicize this process.” Flanked by Linahan as well as tea party and other political activists, he said doing so would  be “an affront to these families, and Texas families across the state, and the values we hold dear as Texans.” Then why did Dewhurst team up with political activists and a for-profit political consulting business to attack a curriculum tool used by hundreds of public and Christian schools in Texas?

Second, critics have claimed that the… Read More

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