Yes, I want to see a debate. I think that’s…you know, the American way. We need to see both sides of anything. -Debbi Mace, voter
Indeed, debate is the American way. But we’re starting to learn it’s not just Perry not the only GOP candidate scared to debate they’re Democratic opponent. There are many other GOP candidates, all over Texas, that are shunning the American way of debate. Via Kuff, Fear of debating is contagious.
The dispute started yesterday, after Republican Party of Texas Chairman Steve Munisteri released a statement urging both of the Republican nominees to skip the debate, claiming that the Austin Chapter of the League of Women Voters wouldn’t be fair, despite the fact that the organization has hosted such forums for years without complaint. For this event, the League has partnered with Austin PBS affiliate KLRU to televise the debates, and had arranged for Evan Smith to moderate.
The policy of the Republican Party of Texas to simply ignore voters and skip public forums speaks volumes of who they believe matters in this race — and it’s not you. It’s not the parents, teachers, or children of Texas who care about public schools. It is themselves.
Up and down the ballot, whatever the race, Republicans are in it for themselves while Democrats are in it for Texas.
While all of that is certainly true, the main reason the GOP doesn’t want to debate is because they believe they’re in the lead, and to use a football reference, they want to run out the clock. Essentially they’re afraid that if they step in front of a camera, and are forced to answer questions, they will likely say something stupid and end up looking bad. Which is entirely possible because of the record they have to defend. Things like an $18 billion budget shortfall, mismanagement (see TYC, TFSC, etc..), and for the SBOE candidates where they stand regarding science, evolution, and Thomas Jefferson. It’s easy to see why they’re afraid.
Regarding the debate in the Governor’s race, Perry’s “concern” regarding Bill White seems like it would be a great point to make in a debate. It will almost certainly come up. But, Perry would also have to answer for his many failings as governor over the last 10 years, (the Trans-Texas Corridor,other privatization schemes – Accenture, IBM – oh, and the $18 billion looming budget shortfall).
But the reason to show up for a debate, and not come up with lame excuses for ducking it, is because the voters have come to expect it. It’s obvious that the Texas GOP doesn’t respect the voters in Texas, and think they can hide out until the election is over. Let’s hope voters won’t stand for this kind of snubbing by the GOP. Because, after all, respecting what the voters want is the American way.
The Texas State Board of Education, dominated by religious conservatives, approved the new Social Studies TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) yesterday by a 9 – 5 vote. Kuff has a great wrap-up, The clown show finally calls it a wrap.
Moments ago the State Board of Education cast the final vote on new social studies standards, ending more than a year of political wrangling that invited derision and scorn from the entire educational world. I’m not going to take you through the litany of problems with this curriculum. You can read about those on our blog or in the hundreds of news stories that will appear in the media tomorrow. All of these issues, as serious as they are, are really symptoms of the larger problem — allowing politicians with personal agendas to write our children’s curriculum, rather than teachers and scholars.
That’s why today’s vote is not the end of this fight. It’s the beginning.
For 15 years, all of us at TFN have been committed to safeguarding our children’s education from political ideology. And we’re not about to let up now.
Our ultimate goal is nothing less than fundamental change at the State Board of Education. Parents, business leaders and concerned citizens across Texas must join together in our Just Educate campaign to send a clear message to politicians: stop dragging our children’s schools into the “culture wars.” That’s why TFN is mounting our largest grassroots mobilization effort in the history of the organization. And we are counting on you to take part.
The Texas Freedom Network (TFN) live-blogged yesterday’s hearing in three parts, (Part I, Part II, and Part III).
Burnt Orange report has video of the three Democratic candidates that are running for the State Board of Education (SBOE), SBOE Hearings Continue: Tweet & Donate! Including this one below from the candidate in District 10, which includes Williamson County, Judy Jennings. In the video Jennings says, if elected, she will explore the possibility of rescinding any parts of of the Social Studies curriculum that are passes that are based on ideology and not historical fact.
The title of this post is a classic quote from Winston Churchill and unfortunately what will likely happen tomorrow when the State Board of Eduction (SBOE) meets. The quote leads us to believe that we all have a different view of history. Some think Vietnam was a war that never should have been fought and was doomed from the beginning. Others think it wasn’t fought right, or to win, and that is the reason the Untied States was not victorious. Be that as it may, the current way the SBOE is going about changing history, shall we say, is not only turning Texas into a laughing stock, but it’s wrong.
The conservatives on the SBOE are currently the victors and they are trying to implement their version of history on public school children in Texas. What will likely occur tomorrow has been decades in the making by the conservatives in Texas, and payback, Texas curriculum fight was orchestrated over more than a decade.
The State Board of Education members have heard the constant drumbeat of criticism from lawmakers, academics and others over the proposed changes to the state’s social studies curriculum standards.
But many of them probably won’t listen.
The new standards, which are set for final adoption this week, are the final piece of a puzzle that reshapes Texas’ public school curriculum to reflect the conservative board members’ worldview.
Starting more than three years ago, the conservatives first pushed for “computational math” and phonics over “fuzzy math” and “whole language.” They then tackled evolution.
Now the aim is to rewrite a historical narrative that they perceive as hostile toward America, religion and capitalism.
Central to those contentious fights has been a willingness to challenge — rightly or wrongly — the predominant orthodoxy held by most teachers and academics.
So 1,200 college historians, for instance, can fume that the social studies standards are distorting history and be dismissed as mere noise.
The conservatives see no reason to delay or compromise, particularly because their time in control could expire at the end of the year when two of their leaders, Cynthia Dunbar , R-Richmond, and Don McLeroy , R-Bryan, leave the board.
Dunbar did not seek re-election, and McLeroy was defeated in the March primary.
The seeds of the current discord at the State Board of Education were sown in 1997 when the conservative minority was shut out of the final debate over new curriculum standards.
Unlike today’s curriculum critics, the conservatives and their allies didn’t march in protest or hold news conferences to disparage the majority, said David Bradley , R-Beaumont, a board member since 1996 .
“We just went out and won some elections,” Bradley said.
Tired of seeing far-right extremists on the State Board of Education censor and whitewash what public schools teach Texas kids? You can help us do something about it this week.
Join concerned parents, educators, businesspeople and other Texans at the “Don’t White-Out Our History” rally at 1 p.m., Wednesday, May 19, in front of the Texas Education Agency. The TEA building is located at 17th and Congress just north of the Capitol in Austin.
One thing yesterday’s Mexican American Legislative Caucus (MALC) hearing on the Texas State Borad of Education (SBOE) highlighted was, why the SBOE has been able to get away with mangling science and now social studies/history curriculum for Texas public schools. For the most part they’ve been able to operate below the radar and not held accountable for their actions. That changed yesterday when state Rep. Trey Martinez-Fischer (D-San Antonio) held a hearing.
The first thing that came to light, even before the hearing started, was that the head of the SBOE didn’t want to show up, SBOE Chairwoman Gail Lowe Ducks Texas Lawmakers. Would Lowe have been subject to tough questioning? If having to come before legislators to defend the board’s recent actions is tough questioning, then the answer is yes. But to the average Texans it doesn’t seem like too much to ask for a governor’s appointee to show up, when asked, by elected leaders.
Rick Perry appointee and Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott described the process involving the curriculum changes under consideration by the SBOE as “payback” while testifying at a hearing at the Texas State Capitol.
The first person to testify during the hearing was Robert Scott, Texas Education Commissioner. During his testimony, questions were raised about the curriculum process and why certain decisions were made. Scott responded to the questions by justifying the SBOE’s controversial changes as “payback.“
I transcribed the key part from his testimony — video archive will be available after the hearing:
“One of the things, I think, that has been a problem in all of our deliberations regarding – whether it’s education or anything else – is that when you push out a particular group, and say we don’t care about you, when you push out, regardless of who that is, over time that creates a problem. And when the pendulum swings back, you know, there’s – whether you call it payback or a shifting in the alignment – I think that we need to be mindful as we deliberate to try to prevent the pushing out of any group, regardless of who they are. And that’s what I think this process needs to be about.”
Scott’s remarks are disgusting. Unequivocally disgusting.
Bill White’s campaign for Texas governor looks to be doing really well since the primary. And I’m not just talking about yesterday’s poll numbers, Texas Governor: Perry 48%, White 44%.
Any incumbent who earns less than 50% support at this stage of a campaign is considered potentially vulnerable.
We already knew Perry was vulnerable after the GOP primary in Texas since he barely eked out over 50% of the vote of his own party faithful. But in keeping up with White’s blog on his web site he’s been busy going all over the state and he’s appearing on local radio as he goes – listen here and here. The more he’s known the better he’ll do.
But White thus far has been hammering Perry on this failings, and neglect, of education in Texas, via the Texas Tribune today.
As Bill White continues to drill Gov. Rick Perry over the state’s education record, poll numbers show he’s gaining some traction against the decade-long incumbent.
While White stumped in San Antonio yesterday, he pointed to Perry’s lack of support for the University of Texas at San Antonio in its ambitions to become a Tier One research university and said the governor had not done enough to support higher education in the state. He also tweaked the governor for declining to apply to Race to the Top, the federal education grant program.
The remarks in San Antonio come after a San Marcos event on Friday, where White took aim at the State Board of Education in front of a group of several hundred teachers, asking “Wouldn’t it be great to have a governor who appointed a State Board of Education chair who understood that you ought to leave the curriculum to professionals?”
As Kuff points out, while the poll is good news, there’s still a long way to go.
That’s a nice result, but I wouldn’t make too much of a two point shift. It’s more likely float in the margin of error than anything else. Give me a bigger shift next month, or two more months of little moves like this, and then we can talk. I’m not trying to rain on anyone’s parade, but it could easily be 49-43 next month without meaning anything much, too.
This is no doubt due to his consolidating Democratic and Dem-leaning independent support as he’s become better known. Perry’s numbers, on the other hand, have been flat. That’s not unexpected for a universally-known incumbent, but it suggests he may be at a ceiling. That ceiling is pretty close to 50%, however, and at least in Rasmussen’s world there are precious few undecided voters, so the path forward for each candidate is to take voters away from the other guy, which is another way of saying this will be a negative campaign. Which I’m sure you already knew.
One issue that has hurt Perry in recent months has been his record on the economy. Though Perry loves touting Texas as the leader in the country on the economy, the fact is he’s using metrics that mean relatively little to most people. There are very real reasons to challenge Rick Perry’s economic record in Texas, including:
Governor Perry also got called out on a falsehood from his recent interview with Evan Smith of the Texas Tribune by Politifact Texas. In it he said, “We had a press conference here that interestingly no one in the mainstream media covered.” Well they did. He also showed himself to be a political hack in the interview when asked about former President Bush.
What Bill White can do that Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, and Debra Medina were unable to do, is to consolidate the 61% of the vote that voted against Perry in 2006 to enable him to get over 50% in November. By being able to point out Perry’s failings, which are many, across the political spectrum, White definitely has a chance against a vulnerable incumbent, of which many Texans have grown weary.
State Rep. Mike Villarreal (D-San Antonio) does a great job of explaining what the benefit to Texas will be from the recently passed health care bill, Texans Win With Health Care Reform. (Tip to Kuff).
I will no longer receive phone calls from desperate parents who can’t find an insurance company that will cover their kid’s pre-existing asthma, leukemia or other condition. I won’t have neighbors nervously knocking on my office door, explaining their insurance company dropped them just when they needed it most. Both of these practices will be prohibited starting this year.
Many of my constituents in their early 20s are juggling work and school and praying they don’t get sick or hurt. When they do get sick, they’re often more worried about the bills than their health, and too often they let their illnesses linger before getting help. When they finally go to the ER, you and I pay for it through our taxes. But now, starting this year, they can remain on their parents’ insurance.
Also this year, small businesses in my community will receive tax credits to make employee coverage more affordable. Insurance companies will no longer limit annual benefits. They will face greater oversight when they consider raising your premiums. By January, nearly three million seniors in Texas will have access to free preventive care.
Beyond this next year, many of the six million uninsured Texans will have health insurance, improving their health and financial stability, and saving all of us money. Middle class and low-income Texans who don’t have insurance through their jobs may receive subsidies on a sliding scale based on their income. For example, a family of four making less than $88,000 would be eligible for assistance. Low-income individuals will now be eligible for Medicaid. If you want to know what’s in health care reform for you, take a look at this interactive tool from the Washington Post.
The new law will also help rein in the frightening long-term budget deficits that rising health care and entitlement costs will produce. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the official non-partisan arbiter trusted by both parties, health care reform will reduce the deficit by a $138 billion over the next decade. It’s a good deal for our state budget, as well. The federal government will cover all of the new Medicaid costs the first few years. Starting in 2020, Texas will receive nine federal dollars for every dollar we put in.
Why is it, after eight (or more) years of Rick Perry, David Dewhurst, Greg Abbott, and (mostly) Speaker Craddick, that we had so many uninsured Texans? We know what these guys have done to take insurance away from many Texans. What have they done to provide it? When they say “we don’t want this”, how many of those six million are they speaking for? When they say “we can do a better job of it on our own”, why haven’t they done it? Never mind what they say they want to do next year when the Lege is in session. Why haven’t they already done it in all of the legislative sessions we’ve had since they were put in charge? Maybe the reason they’re so mad about what the federal government has done is because it has put their own lack of accomplishment in such stark relief. Why didn’t they do more – hell, why didn’t they do anything – to help these people? Their failure speaks for itself.
Yes our GOP leaders in Texas have done nothing to help the uninsured for years. And now that something is being done all they can do is complain about that. What a sad bunch they are.
I would also encourage everyone to watch a press conference, (it’s only about 20 minutes), held yesterday by Sen. Eliot Shapleigh (D-El Paso), Sen. Rodney Ellis (D-Houston), and Rep. Garnet Coleman (D-Houston). It’ can be seen at this here, ( [March 31] Press Conference: Senator Shapliegh – Regarding Federal healthcare reform legislation and subsequent litigation). In it they stress that Texans benefits the most of any state from national health reform.
Improve coverage for 552,000 residents with health insurance.
Give tax credits and other assistance to up to 178,000 families and 12,300 small businesses to help them afford coverage.
Improve Medicare for 80,000 beneficiaries, including closing the donut hole.
Extend coverage to 68,000 uninsured residents.
Guarantee that 15,300 residents with pre-existing conditions can obtain coverage.
Protect 700 families from bankruptcy due to unaffordable health care costs.
Allow 71,000 young adults to obtain coverage on their parents’ insurance plans.
Provide millions of dollars in new funding for 13 community health centers.
Reduce the cost of uncompensated care for hospitals and other health care providers by $41 million annually.
Also yesterday state Rep. Trey Martinez (D-San Antonio) held a press conference yesterday on an upcoming public hearing on the recent debacles with the State Board of Education (SBOE), Lawmakers to Texas Ed Board: It’s Time to Talk.
Today Texas lawmakers picked up a bigger megaphone to get the attention of a bitterly divided, out-of-control State Board of Education. At a Capitol press conference, members of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus (MALC) announced that they are scheduling a public hearing for April 28 to examine how and why the state board has run off the tracks and what the Texas Legislature should do about it.Calling the board a “national circus,” MALC Chairman Trey Martinez Fischer (photo), a Democratic state representative from San Antonio, said the hearing will focus on the board’s badly broken process for developing curriculum standards and adopting textbooks. The hearing will also look at the highly controversial decisions the board has made in the development of new social studies standards this year.
On March 11, for example, the board deleted Thomas Jefferson, who argued that ”a wall of separation between church and state” is essential to liberty, from a world history standard on important Enlightenment thinkers. The board’s religious-righters, rejecting the constitutional principle of separation of church and state, also rejected a proposed government standard requiring students to “examine the reasons the Founding Fathers protected religious freedom in America by barring government from promoting or disfavoring any particular religion over all others.”
Martinez Fischer was particularly critical of the board’s lack of respect for classroom teachers and scholarly experts. He noted that board members with no academic credentials are making curriculum decisions based on what limited knowledge they possess or can readily find on their own.
“Nationally renowned experts are being replaced by what you can find on Wikipedia and the Internet,” he said, joking that board members at meetings have seemed engaged in a contest to see who can most quickly Google information from their laptops when debating the standards. At its January meeting, in fact, the board deleted from the third-grade standards a reference to the late author of a popular children’s book, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?Based on an Internet search, one member confused the author’s name with that of another man who wrote a book about Marxism — so out he went. An embarrassed board added the author back to the standards in March. (Martinez Fischer held up a mock book covers that read State Board, State Board, What’s Wrong with Thee? and State Board, State Board, Let Me Be.)
On the issues that matter most to ordinary Texans, health care and education, Democrats are stepping up while their counterparts only want to stand still or move backwards.
There will be rousing debate in Austin later this week when the State Board of Education (SBOE) meets in Austin starting tomorrow. To get ready for the debate this week over the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) for social studies curriculum below are some key articles.
Don McLeroy is a balding, paunchy man with a thick broom-handle mustache who lives in a rambling two-story brick home in a suburb near Bryan, Texas. When he greeted me at the door one evening last October, he was clutching a thin paperback with the skeleton of a seahorse on its cover, a primer on natural selection penned by famed evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr. We sat down at his dining table, which was piled high with three-ring binders, and his wife, Nancy, brought us ice water in cut-crystal glasses with matching coasters. Then McLeroy cracked the book open. The margins were littered with stars, exclamation points, and hundreds of yellow Post-its that were brimming with notes scrawled in a microscopic hand. With childlike glee, McLeroy flipped through the pages and explained what he saw as the gaping holes in Darwin’s theory. “I don’t care what the educational political lobby and their allies on the left say,” he declared at one point. “Evolution is hooey.” This bled into a rant about American history. “The secular humanists may argue that we are a secular nation,” McLeroy said, jabbing his finger in the air for emphasis. “But we are a Christian nation founded on Christian principles. The way I evaluate history textbooks is first I see how they cover Christianity and Israel. Then I see how they treat Ronald Reagan—he needs to get credit for saving the world from communism and for the good economy over the last twenty years because he lowered taxes.”
When the State Board of Education meets this week to tackle revisions to the social studies curriculum in Texas public schools, some of the most contentious public debate is likely to center on recommendations by two men who want more emphasis on the role of Christianity in how the nation was formed.
The ideas submitted by well-known Christian conservatives David Barton and the Rev. Peter Marshall could influence how social studies is taught in Texas for the next decade. The board’s final decision on the social studies curriculum is expected in March.
Among the reviewers, Barton has been the most vocal proponent of teaching about religion’s impact in American history. When other reviewers submitted their first drafts of curriculum revisions, the average length of their suggestions was 13 pages. Barton’s initial recommended changes were 87 pages long and included everything from minute language shifts to major changes that would show students the importance of Christianity in shaping the country’s history.
“The story that people like Barton tell about the decline of America at least in some ways tracks with the idea that God was kicked out of public education,” said Robert Kunzman, associate professor of education at Indiana University, who recently wrote “Write These Laws On Your Children: Inside the World of Conservative Christian Homeschooling.”
Board members Barbara Cargill and Cynthia Dunbar voted for Marshall’s inclusion in the reviewers’ group. Marshall lives in Massachusetts and attended Yale University and Princeton Theological Seminary before beginning his ministry in 1977.
Like Texans need a Massachusetts elitist to tell us what to teach our kids in school.
Battles are shaping up for three seats held by social conservatives, both in the Republican primary and with Democrats lined up to seek a pair of those seats in the fall general election.
On the other side, a GOP candidate with social conservative leanings is seeking to knock off a longtime Republican incumbent in West Texas. That could give social conservatives a shot at their first majority on the 15-member board.
The winners will help make critical decisions on such things as the new science and history books that will be used in Texas schools in the next decade. And since Texas is one of the largest textbook purchasers in the nation, those decisions will dictate what books are marketed in other states.
This is a critical reason why Democrats must come out and vote in Texas in 2010. As important as getting a Democratic governor, (especially with Perry showing up at the equivalent of tent revivals), more Democrats in the Legislature, more Democrats statewide, it’s equally important to get Democrats elected in the SBOE and other down ballot races. It’s more likely these far right candidates will lose in the general than in the primary where the more radical GOP voters are likely to be the majority.
While it may have been possible, but not likely, that there needed to be some changes to the way evolution was taught, someone who calls evolution “hooey” does not belong on the SBOE. We need more and better Democrats like Judy Jennings on the SBOE.
The West Williamson County Democrats (WWCD) will kick off their series of forums to “MEET THE CANDIDATES” next week. Each forum will feature a Democratic candidate who has declared his or her candidacy for political office and each will be on the Primary Election ballot in March 2010. Some of the candidates will survive to run for office in the General Election on November 3, 2010.
Our first featured guest, Dr. Judy Jennings, wants to replace incumbent Cynthia Dunbar on the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) for District 10. Please join us when we welcome her to speak at Moody’s Restaurant in Leander on August 15th from 2:00-4:00. She is scheduled to talk about her motivation to run, strengths that qualify her to run, and why she thinks it is crucial that Cynthia Dunbar, our current District 10 representative be replaced.