TFN President Strongly Condemns House Rejection of SBOE Sunset Bill Today

TFN President Strongly Condemns House Rejection of SBOE Sunset Bill Today

Vote Put Party Loyalty above Interests of Texas Families and Schoolchildren

May 6, 2009

The president of the Texas Freedom Network is strongly condemning the failure of the Texas House today to hold the State Board of Education accountable for flaunting its contempt for state laws, its own rules and open processes while putting personal and political agendas ahead of the education of Texas schoolchildren.

On an almost entirely party-line vote, the Texas House today refused to pass on third reading House Bill 710 by Rep. Patrick Rose, D-Dripping Springs. HB 710 would have put the State Board of Education under periodic review by the Sunset Advisory Commission. The vote was 71-73. One Republican voted for the bill. All of the “no” votes were from Republicans. The House had approved the bill 74-68 on second reading just yesterday.

In voting almost entirely along partisan lines today on what should never have been a partisan issue, House Republicans told parents that the quality of their children’s education is less important than party loyalty, TFN President Kathy Miller said. The state board is currently controlled by a 10-5 Republican majority.

“This was a common-sense, good-government bill, and House members who voted against it totally ignored the interests of parents and other taxpayers,” Miller said. “No wonder so many people are disgusted by politics. There was no reason to oppose this bill except to bow to the demands of pressure groups that keep dragging our public schools into the culture wars.”

The rejection of HB 710 comes after years in which board members have:
been indicted for violations of the state’s law on open meetings,
ignored state laws limiting the board’s authority to censor and reject textbooks,
called public education a “tool of perversion,” “tyrannical” and “unconstitutional,”
bragged about “spanking” teachers who dared to come before them with concerns about the school curriculum,
questioned the religious faith of fellow board members and others who support teaching about evolution,
recklessly rejected the strong and repeated advice of renowned Texas scientists, including Nobel laureates, by dumbing down the state’s science curriculum, and
appointed to a social studies “expert” panel just last month ideologues who have spoken before white supremacist groups, called on Christian parents to remove their children from public schools and attacked constitutional protections for religious freedom and separation of church and state.

HB 710 would have removed none of the state board’s authority. It would have required the Sunset Advisory Commission to review how and whether the state board functions as required by state law and its own rules, Miller said. It would also have provided a formal process for hearing concerns taxpayers have about the board. That opportunity was swept away by today’s partisan vote, Miller said.

“House members who voted against this bill today are going to have to explain to the parents in their districts why they refuse to hold accountable State Board of Education members who have made clear their contempt for public education and who have questioned the religious faith of anyone who disagrees with them,” Miller said. “The nearly 5 million Texas kids who attend public schools deserve less partisanship in guiding their education. They didn’t get it today.”

The Texas Freedom Network is a nonprofit, grassroots organization of faith and community leaders who support public education, religious freedom and individual liberties.