Two Days after Rejecting Fact-Check Panels for University Academics, Board Votes Down Proposal to Set Standards for Citizen Reviewers

November 20, 2015

State Board of Education today rejected a new proposal to set specific criteria for determining whether individuals are qualified to review textbooks submitted for adoption in Texas. Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller criticized the 8-6 vote against the proposal as yet another example of the board’s hostility to expertise and competence.

 “This board seems determined that textbook adoptions in Texas remain a three-ring circus,” Miller said. “It’s clear that board members are more interested in protecting their ability to appoint unqualified political activists to these panels than in ensuring that our kids’ textbooks are accurate.”

Just two days ago, the board on an 8-7 vote rejected a proposal to set up special panels made up of college and university academics to review textbooks for factual accuracy. Board members argued that existing panels of citizen reviewers were sufficient.

Today SBOE member Erika Beltran, D-Dallas, proposed that the board require that at least a majority of those citizen reviewers have education certification and teaching experience in three of the previous 10 years in a relevant field or hold a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field.

But even those qualifications were too much for opponents, who argued that they smacked of elitism and would open the door to “pointy-headed liberals from the University of Texas” determining whether textbook content is accurate. Opponents also argued that the proposal would make it harder for them to appoint individual reviewers they consider qualified even if those individuals don’t have teaching experience or a degree in a relevant field.