Founders on education standards: James Madison

February 25, 2015

Photo of inscription to the left (north) of the main entrance on Independence Ave., of the James Madison Building, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; Library of Congress photo

Photo of inscription to the left (north) of the main entrance on Independence Ave., of the James Madison Building, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; Library of Congress photo

Madison said nothing against a federal role, but much which supports Common Core standards, and everything in support of public schooling (spellings and other longhand affectations of Mr. Madison left as they were in the letter; emphases added here):

Letter to William Taylor Barry

James Madison (Aug. 4, 1822)

Dear Sir, I received some days ago your letter of June 30, and the printed Circular to which it refers.

The liberal appropriations made by the Legislature of Kentucky for a general system of Education cannot be too much applauded. A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.*

William Taylor Barry was, in 1822, Lt. Governor of Kentucky (one of many posts he held in his lifetime of public service), and the author of the Barry Report, which proposed a system of free public education for Kentucky. Image from Kentucky Secretary of State, at Kentucky.gov

William Taylor Barry was, in 1822, Lt. Governor of Kentucky (one of many posts he held in his lifetime of public service), and the author of the Barry Report, which proposed a system of free public education for Kentucky. Image from Kentucky Secretary of State, at Kentucky.gov

I have always felt a more than ordinary interest in the destinies of Kentucky. Among her earliest settlers were some of my particular friends and Neighbors. And I was myself among the foremost advocates for submitting to the Will of the “District” the question and the time of its becoming a separate member of the American family. Its rapid growth & signal prosperity in this character have afforded me much pleasure; which is not a little enhanced by the enlightened patriotism which is now providing for the State a Plan of Education embracing every class of Citizens, and every grade & department of Knowledge. No error is more certain than the one proceeding from a hasty & superficial view of the subject: that the people at large have no interest in the establishment of Academies, Colleges, and Universities, where a few only, and those not of the poorer classes can obtain for their sons the advantages of superior education. It is thought to be unjust that all should be taxed for the benefit of a part, and that too the part least needing it.

If provision were not made at the same time for every part, the objection would be a natural one. But, besides the consideration when the higher Seminaries belong to a plan of general education, that it is better for the poorer classes to have the aid of the richer by a general tax on property, than that every parent should provide at his own expence for the education of his children, it is certain that every Class is interested in establishments which give to the human mind its highest improvements, and to every Country its truest and most durable celebrity.

Learned Institutions ought to be favorite objects with every free people. They throw that light over the public mind which is the best security against crafty & dangerous encroachments on the public liberty. They are the nurseries of skilful Teachers for the schools distributed throughout the Community. They are themselves schools for the particular talents required for some of the Public Trusts, on the able execution of which the welfare of the people depends. They multiply the educated individuals from among whom the people may elect a due portion of their public Agents of every description; more especially of those who are to frame the laws; by the perspicuity, the consistency, and the stability, as well as by the just & equal spirit of which the great social purposes are to be answered.

Without such Institutions, the more costly of which can scarcely be provided by individual means, none but the few whose wealth enables them to support their sons abroad can give them the fullest education; and in proportion as this is done, the influence is monopolized which superior information everywhere possesses. At cheaper & nearer seats of Learning parents with slender incomes may place their sons in a course of education putting them on a level with the sons of the Richest. Whilst those who are without property, or with but little, must be peculiarly interested in a System which unites with the more Learned Institutions, a provision for diffusing through the entire Society the education needed for the common purposes of life. A system comprizing the Learned Institutions may be still further recommended to the more indigent class of Citizens by such an arrangement as was reported to the General Assembly of Virginia, in the year 1779, by a Committee appointed to revise laws in order to adapt them to the genius of Republican Government. It made part of a “Bill for the more general diffusion of knowledge” that wherever a youth was ascertained to possess talents meriting an education which his parents could not afford, he should be carried forward at the public expence, from seminary to seminary, to the completion of his studies at the highest.

But why should it be necessary in this case, to distinguish the Society into classes according to their property? When it is considered that the establishment and endowment of Academies, Colleges, and Universities are a provision, not merely for the existing generation, but for succeeding ones also; that in Governments like ours a constant rotation of property results from the free scope to industry, and from the laws of inheritance, and when it is considered moreover, how much of the exertions and privations of all are meant not for themselves, but for their posterity, there can be little ground for objections from any class, to plans of which every class must have its turn of benefits. The rich man, when contributing to a permanent plan for the education of the poor, ought to reflect that he is providing for that of his own descendants; and the poor man who concurs in a provision for those who are not poor that at no distant day it may be enjoyed by descendants from himself. It does not require a long life to witness these vicissitudes of fortune.

It is among the happy peculiarities of our Union, that the States composing it derive from their relation to each other and to the whole, a salutary emulation, without the enmity involved in competitions among States alien to each other. This emulation, we may perceive, is not without its influence in several important respects; and in none ought it to be more felt than in the merit of diffusing the light and the advantages of Public Instruction. In the example therefore which Kentucky is presenting, she not only consults her own welfare, but is giving an impulse to any of her sisters who may be behind her in the noble career.

Throughout the Civilized World, nations are courting the praise of fostering Science and the useful Arts, and are opening their eyes to the principles and the blessings of Representative Government. The American people owe it to themselves, and to the cause of free Government, to prove by their establishments for the advancement and diffusion of Knowledge, that their political Institutions, which are attracting observation from every quarter, and are respected as Models, by the newborn States in our own Hemisphere, are as favorable to the intellectual and moral improvement of Man as they are conformable to his individual & social Rights. What spectacle can be more edifying or more seasonable, than that of Liberty & Learning, each leaning on the other for their mutual & surest support?

The Committee, of which your name is the first, have taken a very judicious course in endeavouring to avail Kentucky of the experience of elder States, in modifying her Schools. I enclose extracts from the laws of Virginia on that subject; though I presume they will give little aid; the less as they have as yet been imperfectly carried into execution. The States where such systems have been long in operation will furnish much better answers to many of the enquiries stated in your Circular. But after all, such is the diversity of local circumstances, more particularly as the population varies in density & sparseness, that the details suited to some may be little so to others. As the population however, is becoming less & less sparse, and it will be well in laying the foundation of a Good System, to have a view to this progressive change, much attention seems due to examples in the Eastern States, where the people are most compact, & where there has been the longest experience in plans of popular education.

I know not that I can offer on the occasion any suggestions not likely to occur to the Committee. Were I to hazard one, it would be in favour of adding to Reading, Writing, & Arithmetic, to which the instruction of the poor, is commonly limited, some knowledge of Geography; such as can easily be conveyed by a Globe & Maps, and a concise Geographical Grammar. And how easily & quickly might a general idea even, be conveyed of the Solar System, by the aid of a Planatarium of the Cheapest construction. No information seems better calculated to expand the mind and gratify curiosity than what would thus be imparted. This is especially the case, with what relates to the Globe we inhabit, the Nations among which it is divided, and the characters and customs which distinguish them. An acquaintance with foreign Countries in this mode, has a kindred effect with that of seeing them as travellers, which never fails, in uncorrupted minds, to weaken local prejudices, and enlarge the sphere of benevolent feelings. A knowledge of the Globe & its various inhabitants, however slight, might moreover, create a taste for Books of Travels and Voyages; out of which might grow a general taste for History, an inexhaustible fund of entertainment & instruction. Any reading not of a vicious species must be a good substitute for the amusements too apt to fill up the leisure of the labouring classes.

I feel myself much obliged Sir by your expressions of personal kindness, and pray you to accept a return of my good wishes, with assurances of my great esteem & respect.

Careful readers will note Madison assumed public schools; he had been one of those who contributed to the Northwest Ordinances, which set aside pieces of every township, which land was to be used to create public schooling on the frontiers of America.  If you think Madison’s description of what was to be taught and how sounds an awful lot like Advanced Placement (AP) courses, or the International Baccalaureate curriculum (IB), you’d be in good company.  As opposed to those yahoos who oppose AP or question IB.

_____________
* This line was a favorite quote of Education Secretary Bill Bennett when I published his works in the area. I cannot say whether he still favors Madison’s view, but once upon a time Bennett was rational on these issues.

More:


Educating for a creative society

June 29, 2010

Just as a reminder about what we’re doing in education, I hope every teacher and administrator will take three minutes and view this video (that allows you some time to boggle).

Surely you know who Tom Peters is.  (If not, please confess in comments, and I’ll endeavor to guide you to the information you need.)

Technically, Texas’s early elementary art standards are not so bad as Peters describes them.  But, check this document, from the Texas Education Code (§117.1. Implementation of Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for Fine Arts, Elementary).  Do a search of the Texas standards and count how many times students are expected to stay “within guidelines.”


2010 Texas Democratic Platform: Reform of the Unbalanced State Board of Education

June 28, 2010

This post is seventh in a series on the education planks of the 2010 Texas Democratic Party Platform.

This is an unofficial version published in advance of the final version from the Texas Democrats, but I expect very few changes.

Generally I’ll not comment on these planks just yet, but I must say that I take delight in the perhaps unintentional commentary offered in the title of this plank.  I suspect the intent was to point to the bias of the State Board of Education, an imbalance of political views, and not to the sanity of the board.  But, I could be wrong — the title may be just an official Democratic labeling of the Board’s actions as unbalanced behavior.

REFORM OF THE UNBALANCED STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION

The right-wing Republican extremists who have dominated the State Board of Education have made a laughingstock of our state’s process for developing and implementing school curriculum standards that determine what our students learn. The damage they have done is no laughing matter. In rewriting the curriculum for social studies, English language arts, and science, they repeatedly have dismissed the sound advice of professional educators. Personal ideology, not high academic standards, has guided their work. Their skewed vision slights the contributions of racial and ethnic minorities. Their slanted versions of American history and of science mislead students and violate the separation of church and state. They use loaded language to favor the roles of right-wing organizations and activists. Led by a Rick Perry appointee as chair, this State Board of Education wants to indoctrinate, not educate, the schoolchildren of Texas. Their actions are unlikely to encourage a company to relocate and bring jobs to Texas. Any substantive changes to curriculum must be reviewed by non-partisan experts, and that review must be made public prior to any changes in curriculum by the State Board.

Texas Democrats will realign the State Board of Education with mainstream Texas values, will realign the state curriculum with objective reality and the facts of history and science, and will insist on the exercise of sober fiduciary responsibility for the Permanent School Fund, exposing and prohibiting conflicts of interest.


Liveblogging the Texas State Board of Education

May 21, 2010

Or, should that be “Texas State Soviet of Education?”

Steve Schafersman (of Texas Citizens for Science fame)  is live blogging for the Texas Observer, here.

Texas Freedom Network blogs it here.

Did I forget to mention that earlier?

More:


Blasphemous prayer in Texas

May 21, 2010

One might have thought it improbable, if not impossible.

Texas State Board of Education Member Cynthia Dunbar, in a parting shot, concedes the grounds upon which a challenge might be made to the gutting of social studies standards she wishes to accomplish today.  Is there any doubt her intent is solely religious?

Tip of the old scrub brush to the Texas Freedom Network, for capturing this event for history.


Education board shames Texas, part E: Nick Anderson again

April 10, 2010

Nick Anderson in Houston Chronicle, Texas education group kicks Jefferson out of curriculum

Nick Anderson in Houston Chronicle, April 2, 2010


Education board shames Texas: Nick Anderson’s view from 2009, part C

March 31, 2010

Nick Anderson of the Houston Chronicle on Texas SBOE social studies standards, in 2009

Nick Anderson of the Houston Chronicle on Texas SBOE social studies standards, in 2009


Education board shames Texas: Ben Sargent and Texas education follies, part B

March 31, 2010

Ben Sargent, Austin American-Statesman, on Rick Perry and Texas social studies standards

Ben Sargent, Austin American-Statesman (GoComics) March 17, 2010

(I first saw a Ben Sargent cartoon published in the Daily Utah Chronicle in about 1974.  35 years of great stuff from that guy.  He officially retired from the Austin American-Statesman in 2009, running one cartoon a week now.)

Tip of the old scrub brush, again, to Steven Schafersman and What Would Jack Do.

Also note this January cartoon from Sargent:

Ben Sargent, Austin American-Statesman, January 24, 2010

Texas State Board of Education social studies curricula - Ben Sargent, Austin American-Statesman, January 24, 2010


Happy Madison’s birthday! Nation expresses revulsion at Texas education follies, Part 1

March 17, 2010

Tuesday, March 16 was the 259th anniversary of the birth of James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, the sponsor of the Bill of Rights, the life-long campaigner for good government based on knowledge of the errors of history, especially in the area of religious freedom.

Under social studies standards proposed by the Texas State Board of Education, Texas students will never study Madison’s views, or Madison’s Constitution, without intervention by their parents or good teachers who run some risk to teach the glories of American history to students.

Newspaper stories across the nation concentrated on Madison’s birthday expressed revulsion and rejection of the crabbed and cramped views of the Texas SBOE, and the cup of revulsion runneth over.

For example, the attempted evisceration and hobbling of science standards occurred last year, but the editorial cartoon in USA Today reached back to remind us just what is going on in Austin.

By Scott Stantis, Chicago Tribune, for USA TODAY, March 16, 2010, on Texas education follies

By Scott Stantis, Chicago Tribune, for USA TODAY, March 16, 2010

More comment to come.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Christina Castillo Comer.


Texas standards for social studies — where to find them

March 11, 2010

Texas Tribune quickly establishes itself as a Really Useful journal on Texas politics, especially with features like this summary of the proposed Texas social studies standards, with comments on changes and the history of the changes.

For example, explaining an insulting cut of Texas and African American heroes, Texas Tribune explains:

Tuskegee Airman Commander dumped: Board member McLeroy made the motion to pull Oveta Culp Hobby and Benjamin O. Davis from this standard. Hobby — a Houston newspaper publisher, the director the federal health department in the 1950s, and the wife of Texas Governor William P. Hobby — shows up elsewhere, in the 7th grade curriculum. Davis, however, does not. Davis was the first African-American general in the U.S. Air Force and the commander of the Tuskegee Airmen in the World War II. The board did insert a phrase on the “contributions of the Tuskegee Airman” in the next section.

Straightforward explanation.  If it raises your ire, it’s not because the writing is inflammatory, but because the facts are so clearly presented.

Tip of the old scrub brush to the Texas Freedom Network and their e-mail alerts.


5 things to teach – Life lessons your supervisor doesn’t want to see on your lesson plans

February 6, 2010

It’s too short to excerpt — so here’s the whole thing.

Over at The Elementary Educator, I found this list, “Five Things You Should Teach Your Students This Week (None of which are likely to be on your standards):

This week, teach your students:

1.  To understand themselves as learners (a.k.a. metacognition)

2.  That intelligence is not innate; effort matters

3.  Compassion

4.  The excitement of creating real things for real audiences

5.  The joy of exercise, play, and healthy living

Another reminder that not all things that count can be counted.

The Elementary Educator carries interesting stuff.  You may wish to check it out.


Schafersman’s testimony on social studies standards, to Texas SBOE

January 13, 2010

Dr. Steve Schafersman will testify on proposed new standards for social studies in Texas public schools, at a hearing before the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) scheduled for today, January 13, 2009.

Schafersman is president of Texas Citizens for Science and its driving force.  He’ll also live blog much of the hearing at his blog, Evo-Sphere.  You should probably watch TFN Insider, the blog of the Texas Freedom Network, too.

Schafersman’s testimony was released in advance, and reprinted below.

Public Testimony of
Steven D. Schafersman

Texas State Board of Education Public Hearing
Austin
, Texas; Wednesday, 2009 January 13

I am grateful for the opportunity to address you about Social Studies standards for which I am testifying as a private citizen. Tomorrow you will begin your work to adopt the new Social Studies TEKS. I closely read and evaluated the proposed Grade 8 Social Studies, High School U. S. History, U. S. Government, World History, and World Geography standards and found them to be quite satisfactory. The standards were extremely comprehensive, balanced, fair-minded, and honest. The members of the panels who wrote them did an outstanding job and I was very impressed by their knowledge and professionalism. I urge that you adopt these Social Studies standards without change.

My experience with this Board leads me to suspect that some of you don’t want to adopt these excellent standards–written by social studies curriculum experts and teachers–without change. After all, these standards were written by experts and some of you feel obliged to stand up to the experts. Some of you may want to change some of the standards to correspond to your own political and religious beliefs, such as the mistaken notions that the United States is a Christian nation, that we do not have a secular government, or that separation of church and state is a myth. Some of you may want to add more unnecessary information about Christian documents or Christian history in America. If some of you do wish to make such changes, I request that you restrain yourselves. Please resist the temptation to engage in the same behavior some of you exhibited last year when you perverted the Science standards and embarrassed the citizens of Texas by engaging in pseudoscientific anti-intellectual behavior. While the Texas State Board of Education has a long and proud history of anti-intellectualism, the economic conditions today demand that we stop that practice and return to professionalism and respect for academic achievement so that our children have a future in which they will use their minds to make a living in intellectual pursuits and not their limbs in a service economy.

During the adoption of the science standards, some Board members amended the Biology and Earth and Space Science standards by engaging in fast talking, omitting pertinent information about what was being changed, offering bogus “compromises” that were not really fair compromises, and referring to “experts” who were in fact pseudoscientists and not real experts at all. I hope to not witness the same behavior tomorrow but I am pessimistic. Two pseudo-historians, David Barton and Peter Marshall, were appointed as “experts” and there is plenty of evidence available that demonstrates that these two gentlemen are preachers and polemicists for their radical agendas, not legitimate history experts.

I urge the rational and conservative Board members–whom I hope still make up a majority of this Board–to resist proposed radical amendments that attempt to insert bogus histories of American exceptionalism, America’s presumed Christian heritage as the source of our liberties and Constitutional principles, and other historical myths perpetrated by the American Religious Right. I urge you to vote No to such radical amendments, not Abstain or your radical opponents will gain the same advantage that they enjoyed during the amendment process for the Science standards, where they were delighted when some of you abstained or did not vote since that made it easier for them to obtain majorities which allowed them to win several amendments that made changes detrimental to science education. Unlike last year, when you were prevented from consulting your legitimate Science experts during debate, please consult your genuine Social Studies experts, Texas Professors Kracht, Hodges, and de la Teja. Please try to avoid the same mistakes with the Social Studies adoption process that occurred with the Science standards adoption, so no one will be able to accuse you of being anti-intellectual.


Texas social studies curriculum panel reports: The Great Texas History Smackdown

July 7, 2009

Just when you thought it was safe to take a serious summer vacation, finish the latest Doris Kearns Goodwin, and catch up on a couple of novels . . .

The sharks of education policy are back.

Or the long knives are about to come out (vicious historical reference, of course, but I’m wagering the anti-education folks didn’t catch it).  Pick your metaphor.

Our friend Steve Schafersman sent out an e-mail alert this morning:

The Expert Reviews of the proposed Texas Social Studies curriculum are now available at

http://ritter. tea.state. tx.us/teks/ social/experts. html

Social Studies Expert Reviewers

  • David Barton, President, WallBuilders
    Review of Current Social Studies TEKS
  • Jesus Francisco de la Teja, Professor and Chair, Department of History, Texas State University
    Review of Current Social Studies TEKS
  • Daniel L. Dreisbach, Professor, American University
    Review of Current Social Studies TEKS
  • Lybeth Hodges, Professor, History, Texas Woman’s University
    Review of Current Social Studies TEKS
  • Jim Kracht, Associate Dean and Professor, College of Education and Human Development, Texas A&M University
    Review of Current Social Studies TEKS
  • Peter Marshall, President, Peter Marshall Ministries
    Review of Current Social Studies TEKS

You can download their review as a pdf file.

Three of these reviewers are legitimate, knowledgeable, and respected academics who undoubtedly did a fair, competent, and professional job. The other three are anti-church- state separation, anti-secular public government, and pseudoscholars and pseudohistorians. I expect their contributions to be biased, unprofessional, and pseudoscholarly. Here are the bad ones:

Barton may be the worst of the three. He founded Wallbuilders to deliberately destroy C-S separation and promote Fundamentalist Christianity in US government. Just about everything he has written is unhistorical and inaccurate. For example, Barton has published numerous “quotes” about C-S separation made by the Founding Fathers that upon investigation turned out to be hoaxes. Here’s what Senator Arlen Specter had to say about Barton:

Probably the best refutation of Barton’s argument simply is to quote his own exegesis of the First Amendment: “Today,” Barton says, “we would best understand the actual context of the First Amendment by saying, ‘Congress shall make no law establishing one Christian denomination as the national denomination. ‘ ” In keeping with Barton’s restated First Amendment, Congress could presumably make a law establishing all Christian denominations as the national religion, and each state could pass a law establishing a particular Christian church as its official religion.

All of this pseudoscholarship would hardly be worth discussing, let alone disproving, were it not for the fact that it is taken so very seriously by so many people.

I am sure these six will participate in a Great Texas History Smackdown before our crazy SBOE. Perhaps this will finally sicken enough citizens that they will finally vote to get rid of the SBOE, either directly or indirectly. Be sure to listen to this hearing on the web audio. Even better, the web video might be working so you can watch the SBOE Carnival Sideshow.

Steven Schafersman, Ph.D.
President, Texas Citizens for Science

The non-expert experts were appointed by Don McLeroy before the Texas Senate refused to confirm his temporary chairmanship of the State Board of Education.  The good McLeroy may have done as chairman is interred with his dead chairmanship; the evil he did lives on.  (Under McLeroy and Barton’s reading of history and literature, most students won’t catch the reference for the previous sentence.)

Tony Whitson at Curricublog posted information you need to readTexas Freedom Network’s Insider has a first pass analysis of the crank experts’ analyses — they want to make Texas’s social studies curriculum more sexist, more racist, more anti-Semitic, more anti-working man, and closer to Sunday school pseudo-history.  While Dallas prepares to name a major street in honor of Cesar Chavez, Barton and Marshall say he’s too Mexican and too close to Jews, and so should be de-emphasized in history books (a small picture of Chavez appears on one of the main U.S. history texts now).

That’s the stuff that jumps out at first.  What else will we find when we dig?

More to come; watch those spaces, and this one, too.


Rick Perry’s education dilemma

June 25, 2009

Betsy Oney teaches in Arlington, Texas.  She’s a frontline soldier in the fight to educate our kids.

She also reads the newspapers and pays attention to what is going on at the highest levels in Texas government.  From her view, she describes better than anyone else I’ve seen, the problem facing Texas Gov. Rick Perry right now, after the Texas State Senate rejected Perry’s nominee to head the State Board of Education, Don McLeroy.

Betsy’s views appeared as an opposite-editorial piece in the Fort Worth Star Telegram on June 7, 2009:

Texas governor in a dilemma over education board pick

By BETSY ONEY
Special to the Star-Telegram

Gov. Rick Perry is in something of a Catch-22.

It started two years ago when he appointed dentist Don McLeroy to chair the State Board of Education. McLeroy is described by his many supporters as a “good and decent man,” and of that we can be sure.

McLeroy’s appointment came after the 80th Legislature adjourned, so he had to be confirmed during this year’s session. The confirmation failed in the Senate.

McLeroy’s supporters blame that on the fact that he’s a Christian. Records show that this Senate, and the House Public Education Committee in a July 16 hearing, were concerned not that he’s Christian but that McLeroy politicized Texas children’s education and led the board and the Texas education system into the spotlight. And what Texans and Americans saw in that light was a fairly grotesque parade of a few people — a majority faction of the board led by McLeroy — who listened to ideology instead of experts and were intent on imposing an antiquated education system on Texas children.

From that same elected board, Perry now must decide on a new chairman who, like McLeroy, will serve without scrutiny until the next legislative session, in 2011.

Perry’s decision is his Catch-22.

He probably won’t consider a Democrat. That leaves nine Republican possibilities. Seven are the radical members responsible for politicizing children’s education. They voted in lock step on a range of issues that individually and collectively have been widely seen by educators and lawyers as anything from illegal to unconstitutional to damaging children. Nominating from that pool might yield a different management style than McLeroy offered, but the ideology, intent and backward direction would remain the same.

The two remaining Republicans are conservative, but not extremists. Both District 11’s Pat Hardy of Fort Worth and District 15’s Bob Craig of Lubbock are well-qualified and would lead Texas public education in the right direction. In contrast to the radical members, they would be responsive to the changing educational needs that the future demands as well as to the rich diversity of children in our population.

Although Hardy has been mentioned as a nominee by senators, she’s recommending Craig.

Craig, an attorney, is a logical choice. He’s served on the board since 2002 and before that served on the Lubbock school board for 14 years. Craig is a “good and decent man,” but in contrast to McLeroy, his voting record and conciliatory demeanor show him to be a rational, uniting public education supporter. He listens to educators and experts. He respects the opinions of others. He votes in the interest of all children.

It’s clear that Perry could not make a better choice than Bob Craig. The Catch-22 is that by appointing a nonextremist, Perry risks losing support from his biggest donors, the religious right.

These donors see benefit in turning public education into religious education at taxpayer expense. They see benefit in keeping critical thinking out of the classroom. Their money is essential in his campaign against Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison in the next gubernatorial primary election.

If Perry appoints from the pool of radical rights, the voting public will be alerted that he’s sacrificing our children’s education and Texas’ future for his own political interests. So he’ll lose votes.

Money and ideology vs. public’s interest and, ultimately, its confidence. What a dilemma! Stay tuned.

Betsy Oney of Fort Worth holds a master of education degree and is a master reading teacher (and English-as-a-second-language teacher) in the Arlington school district.
Can you tell Ms. Oney is literate?  She tosses out “Catch-22” expecting us to know that that means!  She has high expectations for her audience.
Oney’s discipline in Texas schools is one of those insulted by new standards brought down from some mountain by the Texas SBOE in the past year, ignoring the work of Ms. Oney’s colleagues and professionals in her field.
Tip of the old scrub brush to Robert Luhn via Glenn Branch.

Lock up your children and diplomas: Texas Lege still festering

May 14, 2009

In Austin, the Texas Lege stumbles on.  No man’s life, liberty, etc.

Steve Schafersman writing at his new blog, Geo.Sphere, gives details probably available nowhere else on bills to overhaul Texas education again, again.

House Bill 3 and Senate Bill 3, the two identical bills being considered in the Legislature now that will change Texas education laws for student assessment, tracking, documentation, and accountability, also affect high school graduation requirements. Unfortunately, anti-education lobbyists have been very successful and the HB3-SB3 bill as currently written delays the implementation of the 4×4 high school curriculum for many years. This will have a very deleterious effect on Texas science and math education, college readiness, allow continuation of the senior-year math and science layoff, and remove the need for a variety of 12th-grade capstone science and math courses.

Yes, you need to call your Texas representatives.  Schafersman gives the numbers.  Drop by his new blog, get details, get on the phone.

Of course you know, Schafersman is also the head of Texas Citizens for Science.


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