Last June, just before Gov. Greg Abbott appointed Donna Bahorich, R-Houston, as the new chair of the State Board of Education, outgoing chairwoman Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, tried to get the SBOE more authority. Today the Texas Attorney General’s Office slapped down that power grab.
Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office released a formal opinion saying that the SBOE does not have authority under Texas law to set rules for how local school districts adopt textbooks. Cargill and her allies on and off the board had hoped the AG would say otherwise. They’re upset that local school districts can adopt textbooks that the state board doesn’t approve. So they wanted to make it harder for school districts to do so by putting in place a variety of rules to follow.
Paxton’s opinion explains that the Legislature has not given the state board authority to set such rules. The opinion is available here.
We just sent out the following statement.
“We’re certainly pleased to see the attorney general agree that this attempted power grab by certain board members wasn’t supported by state law. It’s important to remember that the board just last month stubbornly refused to establish even basic qualifications for the people it asks to review the textbooks that go into our kids’ classrooms. [See here and here.] So rather than playing politics and pretending that they know best how local school officials should do their jobs, maybe these board members should spend more time putting their own house in order and earning the trust of Texas parents.”
So once again, SBOE members have tried to go around state law and expand their authority (and their ability to censor what students learn in their classrooms). And once again, they failed.