Texas Ed Board Member Asks: What Was SBOE Chair Cargill Up To?

Our report that Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) Chair Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, appeared to be interfering on Wednesday with the independent teams reviewing proposed new biology textbooks became a topic of discussion at a state board workshop session today.

As the session was about to end, SBOE member Marisa Perez, D-San Antonio, expressed her concerns about board members trying to influence the work of the review teams. She also asked for clarification on what Cargill had done and the board’s rules regarding members’ contact with the teams. Those were entirely reasonable concerns and good questions.

Cargill expressed surprise that anyone would suggest she was trying to influence the review teams. All she was doing, she said, was saying hello to the reviewers and thanking them for their service. She also invited anyone with concerns to ask her directly. So we’re taking her up on that invitation and are forwarding our questions and concerns. We will report back on what we hear.

But we think it’s important to correct some misinformation from today’s SBOE meeting. Contrary to what board members were told, the work of the review teams is not “open” to the public. Observers are directed to designated areas of the ballroom from which they can see the review teams. But those areas are too far away for observers to actually see or hear what the review teams are actually discussing. This is troubling because publishers are making changes to their textbooks based on objections from those reviewers.

We applaud the willingness the reviewers to volunteer their time to take part in this process, by the way. But we are concerned that a number of them are using their positions to promote an ideological point of view, not sound science. Whether they are successful won’t be known for a few weeks. But the alarm bells are still ringing.

14 thoughts on “Texas Ed Board Member Asks: What Was SBOE Chair Cargill Up To?

    1. Marisa. I share your concerns and your interest in doing the right thing. All anyone wants out of this process is a fair, objective, balanced, and impartial review of textbooks. No one on the Texas SBOE should be going into those review rooms and hobnobbing with reviewers. This is such a sensitive process that even the appearance of wrongdoing is a very serious matter of concern. Ms. Cargill should no better. She should also know that there is a time to be a social butterfly and a time to avoid being one. Today or any other day when these people are doing their work is the wrong time for her or you to be in that room.

      Thank you for seeking to keep the process fair and honest.

  1. Having served on three seperate Science Text Book Review Panels it comes as no surprise that religious views are presented as alternative explinations to accepted scientific theory. This battle will contniue for many more cycles. We, science eduators, have failed to produce a scientificly literate population.
    We must continue to fight each battle; but, it would be so much better to teach science better to reduce the size of the ignorant population which does not understand the different viewpoints of science and religion. We should accept some share of the blame for this problem.

  2. It takes a very ignorant person to want to include Creationism in a science textbook, just as only an ignoramus would insert Evolution into the Holy Bible. Religion and Science use separate paths to explain the same phenomena. Both are correct, but they are separate and distinct. Our children need to learn science in school and religion at home.

  3. Judge John E Jones ruled on the Dover Pennsylvania creationism/id case on December 21st, 2005.In his decision Jones, a lifelong republican appointed to the federal bench by George W. Bush wrote, in part:

    “Although Defendants attempt to persuade this Court that each Board member who voted for the biology curriculum change did so for the secular purposed of improving science education and to exercise critical thinking skills, their contentions are simply irreconcilable with the record evidence. Their asserted purposes are a sham.

    The citizens of the Dover area were poorly served by the members of the Board who voted for the Intelligent Design Policy. It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy.

    Those who disagree with our holding will likely mark it as the product of an activist judge. If so, they will have erred as this is manifestly not an activist Court. Rather, this case came to us as the result of the activism of an ill-informed faction on a school board, aided by a national public interest law firm eager to find a constitutional test case on ID, who in combination drove the Board to adopt an imprudent and ultimately unconstitutional policy. The breathtaking inanity of the Board’s decision is evident when considered against the factual backdrop which has now been fully revealed through this trial. The students, parents, and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserved better than to be dragged into this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources.”

    John E. Jones III
    United States District Judge


    1. Judge Jones findings are, and will remain, the clearest statement extant of the desire of a small portion of our population to force our school systems to ignore the desire of our founders to insure a firm wall between government and religion. Given the number and diversity of our national places of worship, those demanding that their views on creation and the procceses of nature be heard, have a vast network to present their arguments. This debate is without merit; science and religion have their own definitions of “truth” and each is valid with-in its’ own context. To argue over which content is right or wrong is, in the end, stupid.

  4. “Inside the Texas Textbook Adoption Review Meetings”
    by Donna Garner

    These comments were sent to me in two parts – one on 7.20.13 and the other part today, 8.3.13. The writer was present during both of the Texas State Board of Education instructional materials work sessions. The term “Instructional materials” (IM’s) includes textbooks, online content, technology that directly supports classroom instruction, and certain types of technology services. Evaluators appointed by the elected members of the SBOE went through the products submitted by publishers, checking to see if each one is aligned with the SBOE-adopted TEKS (Texas curriculum standards). Those products that are deemed acceptable will then be sent to the SBOE for public hearings.

    7.20.13 – Part 1

    SB 6 (passed by the Texas Legislature in 2011) has changed the SBOE instructional materials adoption process tremendously. Even though the Texas Legislature gave the Commissioner of Education authority over the instructional materials (IM’s), both present-Comm. Michael Williams and former-Comm. Robert Scott have graciously allowed the SBOE to remain involved. The difference under SB 6 is that if publishers do not want to put their IM’s through the SBOE adoption process, they do not have to do so. Under SB 6, it is permissible (but not wise) for ISD’s to use state money to purchase instructional materials that are not aligned with the SBOE-adopted TEKS (e.g., CSCOPE).

    During Proclamation 2014 (the term used for IM’s that can be purchased for Texas public school classrooms by the 2014 – 15 school year), the titles of over 1600 products were initially submitted to the Texas Education Agency to be considered by the SBOE for adoption in K-12 Science, K-8 Math, and Tech Applications.

    In the days before the deadline for the actual submission of the products, the number dwindled to 516 products. When asked why, many publishers said that their products were not ready for public scrutiny. Will those publishers still sell their products to the districts? Of course! They simply will bypass the SBOE adoption process!

    The number of products originally submitted (516) was still enormous compared to the number submitted in past adoptions, but that means that there will potentially be about 700 products that have not been submitted for review. Of course that number only reflects the products the SBOE knows about. There are many more IM’s out there; and because of SB 6 (adopted by the Legislature in 2011), all a publisher has to do is to make an appointment with school personnel, deliver a good sales pitch, and voila!… the deal is done. State money sails out the door for a textbook that has not been vetted by the SBOE’s transparent, citizen-led adoption process.

    8.3.13 – Part 2

    At our reviewers’ meeting on July 31, Barbara Cargill (Chair of the SBOE) was active in making sure that Proclamation 14 was carried out correctly and efficiently. She and the TEA staffers went to almost every reviewer’s table to introduce themselves and to thank them for volunteering their time; all seemed grateful for the kind words. There were 3 tables of biology reviewers while there were only 1 to 2 tables for the other IM products.

    The process that was used this time was very different from the one used in the past. Before SB 6, there were two lists – conforming and nonconforming. Conforming IM’s had to cover 100% of the TEKS for the subject and grade level; nonconforming IM’s had to cover at least 50% of the TEKS for the subject and grade level. However, because of SB 6, now IM’s only have to cover 50% of the TEKS.

    In light of all of the changes to the process, Cargill had asked panel members what they thought of reviewing the materials virtually (in Phase I) as opposed to face-to-face. Of course most would rather have had face-to-face meetings from the beginning, but the cost was prohibitive.

    There were 516 products that needed to be reviewed so that translated to MANY reviewers. (Interestingly enough, a math publisher decided to drop 12 of his company’s products during the review with no reason being given nor required. Most likely, the math publisher plans to bypass the SBOE-adoption process and sell the products directly to local school district personnel.)

    Dan Quinn of the Texas Freedom Network (TFN) was at the review meeting on July 31 (Wednesday) and had tried to sit with the biology panels. He was politely told that the public needed to stay on the perimeter of the room to avoid distracting the hard-working reviewers.

    To get an understanding of the process, you need to picture a room full of 98 reviewers, all with laptops, all sitting at round tables, all diligently researching TEKS coverage and content accuracy…What would have happened if members of the public were allowed to roam the room at random? Chaos and distractions would have prevailed.

    Barbara Cargill had repeatedly encouraged all SBOE members to attend these meetings so that they could see the process in person and also so that they could make sure the process was running smoothly. SBOE members cheered on the reviewers, provided a listening ear when a problem arose, etc. The TEA staffers did the actual facilitating of the meetings.

    Comments from Donna Garner:

    Marisa B. Perez from San Antonio (D-District 3) is a governmental and community relations specialist for San Antonio ISD. She is a former Child Protective Services social worker and is a new SBOE member elected in Nov. 2012. She has never been through the SBOE-adoption process nor was she involved in the six years that it took for the SBOE to write and adopt the new TEKS.

    Perez posted a blog on the TFN website that attacked Barbara Cargill, a fellow SBOE member, for attending the IM’s review session. What does Ms. Perez know about the process, and what makes her think she has the expertise to criticize the Chair who has been through the SBOE-adoption cycle numerous times and helped to write and adopt the TEKS? (8.1.13 –http://tfn.org/2013/08/01/texas-ed-board-member-asks-what-was-sboe-chair-cargill-up-to/ ).

    Marisa Perez has now clearly identified herself as a Type #2 proponent, having aligned herself with Texas Freedom Network. Perez has lost the trust of everyone who wants our Texas public schools to follow the new Type #1 TEKS. (To see the Type #1 vs. Type #2 chart — http://educationviews.org/2-types-of-education-philosophies-chart/ )

    Perez drew a 2-year term which means that if she decides to run for the SBOE again, voters will be able to vote her out in the elections of 2014.

    Please read “My Message to Cargill: Consider the source; ignore TFN; hold steady.” – 8.2.13 — http://nocompromisepac.ning.com/profiles/blogs/message-for-sboe-cargill-ignore-tfn-hold-steady-by-donna-garner-8?xg_source=activity

    Donna Garner
    [email protected]

    1. We suppose Donna reposted because she thought she wasn’t getting enough attention. Welcome to TFN Insider, Donna. As we noted this morning, here’s who Donna Garner is.

      It’s also important to correct at least two of Donna’s falsehoods in her post.

      First, at no time did a TFN staffer ask to “sit with the biology panels.”

      Second, SBOE member Marisa Perez did not write a blog post on TFN Insider criticizing SBOE Chairwoman Barbara Cargill. We wrote that post. (And we stand by it.)

      Finally, Donna condescendingly says Perez doesn’t have the “expertise” to criticize Cargill anyway. Does Donna really want to get into a discussion about the expertise of SBOE members? Seriously?

    2. Hey Donna,

      Marisa has a right as an elected member of the SBOE, and I am glad she is there. We will be watching closely. Thank you for your feedback.

    3. Several things Donna:

      1) What in the hell were you doing getting secret information on these review meetings? Are you part of the official review process? Why were you allowed to have all of this “inside information” when the press and everyone else was being kept at a distance?

      2) Marisa Perez is an elected member of the Texas SBOE. You write as if Donna Cargill is some kind of god and Marisa is a little shrimp who has no right to hold her position in the first place. Marisa was elected by the people of her district to do this job. I have sat here for 5 years and watched Donna Cargill spout her religious biases and creation science/ID nonsense at Texas SBOE meetings and in other venues. I have seen nothing godlike and nothing in the least about her performance that impresses me. In fact, based on what I have seen, I have no respect for her abilities at all. In my book, Babs and Marisa probably look pretty much the same when they are putting their pants on each morning.

      3) Being as how people with Hispanic backgrounds are taking over the electorate in the United States and considering the fact that Republicans (especially wingnut conservative Republicans) are shooting themselves in the foot right and left, I would not get my hopes up too much for the 2014 election. You need to get used to the fact that the Nurse Aids at your nursing home will have names such as Gomez, Garcia, and Salazar. I would further recommend that you keep your political activities a secret in that nursing home. The Hispanics are taking over Donna. Get used to it and learn to adjust as a future member of the white minority.

    4. Just to clarify, Donna, it is your position that Ms. Perez is out of line for — what, exactly? Inquiring about the nature of Cargill’s visit? She made no accusations of any kind (unlike your baseless demonization above); she asked only for clarification. Perhaps if more people had been asking questions all along, we wouldn’t have made ourselves the laughing stock of the country for how this shady process is run in the first place. To call it “transparent and citizen-led” is a joke. And if you think it is not the place of any elected official to ask questions of their peers to ensure proper procedures have been followed, then you are part of the problem.

      Second, regarding your original post that you linked at the end of your commentary, what the hell does anyone’s sexual orientation have to do with the integrity of the independent review panels? Mentioning this at all in the context of this conversation makes it abundantly clear that your primary goal is to vilify and demonize anyone who disagrees with your own personal extremist ideology. This coupled with your propensity to state blatant falsehoods as if they were fact removes any and all credibility you might’ve otherwise had.

      Perhaps in the future you’ll consider keeping your misinformation and poorly-executed smear campaigns to yourself. Last I checked, honesty and integrity were still important Christian values.

      1. I second the motion by K, particularly the part about Christian values. Can I get a third and a group vote?

  5. Ms. Garner and her like minded cohorts on the SBOE would do well to study the writings of our Founding Fathers, and pay particular attention to those of the Father of the Constitution and the Father of the Bill Of Rights, James Madison. I do admit to bias but I’m of the opinion that Madison was the greatest political thinker in the history of our country.

    “Every new & successful example therefore of a perfect separation between ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance. And I have no doubt that every new example, will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Gov will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.” James Madison, July 10, 1822.

    “It may not be easy, in every possible case, to trace the line of separation between the rights of religion and the Civil authority with such distinctness as to avoid collisions and doubts on unessential points. The tendency to unsurpastion on one side or the other, or to a corrupting coalition or alliance between them, will be best guarded agst. by an entire abstinence of the Gov’t from interfence in any way whatsoever, beyond the necessity of preserving public order, and protecting each sect agst. trespasses on its legal rights by others.” James Madison, 1832.

    “What influence, in fact, have ecclesiastical establishments had on society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the civil authority; on many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny; in no instance have they been the guardians of the liberties of the people.” James Madison, 1775.

    “Freedom arises from the multiplicity of sects, which prevades America and which is the best and only security for religious liberty in any society. For where there is such a variety of sects, there cannot be a majority of any one sect to oppress and persecute the rest.” James Madison, 1778.

    “To the Baptist Churches on Neal’s Greek on Black Creek, North Carolina I have received, fellow-citizens, your address, approving my objection to the Bill containing a grant of public land to the Baptist Church at Salem Meeting House, Mississippi Territory. Having always regarded the practical distinction between Religion and Civil Government as essential to the purity of both, and as guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States, I could not have otherwise discharged my duty on the occasion which presented itself.” President James Madison, 1811.