Texas Ed: Comments on Education from Texas

January 23, 2008

So who’s going to stop them?

Texas Ed Spectator » Blog Archive » So who’s going to stop them?

Just think, with the decision of the majority of the Texas SBOE to reject a textbook for reasons other than failing to meet basic state curriculum requirements, McLeroy now doesn’t even have to bother with the analyzing the “strengths and weaknesses” rule to reject textbooks that teach evolution. Before, the Board would have to go through the motions of documenting that the textbook didn’t demonstrate the weaknesses of evolution in order to reject the book. The Board could have demanded the publishers to include so many “weaknesses” in the textbook so as to make the evolution section appear a travesty of unscientific reasoning.

See the complete post at my new website www.texasedspectator.com.

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January 17, 2008

Because they don’t like it

Texas Ed Spectator » Blog Archive » Because they don’t like it
Rejection of math textbook sparks debate on state board’s authority | Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Latest News

The state Board of Education’s unusual decision to reject a math textbook used by Dallas and 70 other Texas school districts has evolved into a power struggle over the approval of classroom materials used across the state.

At issue is whether the 15-member state board can reject any book it wants for any reason it wants. That’s what some conservative board members, led by board president Don McLeroy, say they are allowed to do.

So much for local control.

See the complete post at my new website www.texasedspectator.com.

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January 16, 2008

You can teach creationism as long as it’s quality creationism

Texas Ed Spectator » Blog Archive » You can teach creationism as long as it’s quality creationism
Texas delays decision on offering science degree at creation college | Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Dallas News on Yahoo! | The Dallas Morning News

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board said Tuesday that it will wait until April to decide whether the Institute for Creation Research can offer an online master’s degree in science education. The board was supposed to take up the issue next week.

In November, a team of educators and coordinating board officials visited the institute’s graduate school in Dallas and concluded that it offered a standard science education curriculum. In December, an advisory council recommended that the board approve the institute’s application.

So what does this mean? The team that visited the program said that is was “a standard science education curriculum.” So why is the board delaying? What has the board found out since then to suggest that it might not be teaching at a graduate level? If so, why didn’t the original advisory council indicate the problem before?

See the complete post at my new website www.texasedspectator.com.

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January 10, 2008

Because it will improve our economic base?

Filed under: education, evolution, Religious Right, textbooks — texased @ 7:41 pm
Texas Ed Spectator » Blog Archive » Because it will improve our economic base?
Very interesting article on the probable upcoming debate on evolution in Texas science textbooks.

Spectator Article

Some educators breathed a sign of relief, thinking that Texas science classes might be spared religious controversy. Yet buried in the TEKS existing standards is the reason that Texas could be the center of evolution’s next big battle: Section 3a reads: “The student is expected to analyze, review, and critique scientific explanations, including hypotheses and theories, as to their strengths and weaknesses using scientific evidence and information.” (Italics added.)

Good thing the Institute for Creation Research may soon get to offer a Masters of Science Education in Texas. That way teachers will be prepared to “teach the controversy.”

 Complete post at my new blog www.texasedspectator.com

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January 1, 2008

January 2nd is the deadline to file for SBOE primaries

Filed under: evolution, Terri Leo, Texas State Board of Education — texased @ 10:09 pm
Texas Ed Spectator » Blog Archive » January 2nd is deadline to file for SBOE primaries
Seven positions are up for election in 2008 for the Texas State Board of Education. This is the board that used to support the teaching of evolution but for some reason, TEA no longer makes that statement. Three of the uncontested seats are Republican, one currently held by Terri Leo, a supporter of teaching “the weaknesses of evolution.”

December 27, 2007

Texas SBOE does not support teaching of evolution

Filed under: Don McLeroy, evolution, Texas State Board of Education — texased @ 11:19 am
Texas Ed Spectator » Texas SBOE does not support teaching of evolution
In case you haven’t heard, the Texas Education Agency has fired the agency’s director of science, Christine Castillo Comer, for forwarding an email about a talk on evolution. It also looks like the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board is seriously considering approving a program that offers a Masters Degree in Creation Science. And if you don’t think our State Board of Education lead by Creationist Advocate, Dr. Don McLeroy, is getting ready to push for eliminating the teaching of evolution from the state’s biology textbooks, consider the following:

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September 5, 2007

McLeroy accepting the standard for teaching evolution?

Filed under: Don McLeroy, evolution, Texas, Texas State Board of Education — texased @ 7:58 pm

Education board opposes intelligent design in curricula | Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Texas Southwest

Interviews with 11 of the 15 members of the board – including seven Republicans and four Democrats – found little support for requiring that intelligent design be taught in biology and other science classes. Only one board member said she was open to the idea of placing the theory into the curriculum standards.

“Creationism and intelligent design don’t belong in our science classes,” said Board of Education Chairman Don McLeroy, who described himself as a creationist. “Anything taught in science has to have consensus in the science community – and intelligent design does not.”

Mr. McLeroy, R-College Station, noted that the current curriculum requires that evolution be taught in high school biology classes, and he has no desire to change that standard.

What can I say, I don’t believe him for a moment. I don’t know what his plan is but given his public record, I believe that he would never miss an opportunity to promote “intelligent design” in the science classroom.

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October 28, 2006

Educational Research Analysts

Remember the couple that make national news because of their work reviewing Texas textbooks?

Textbook Activist Mel Gabler, 89 (washingtonpost.com):

At their kitchen table, they founded the nonprofit Educational Research Analysts to examine textbooks eligible for adoption. They soon became well known statewide, often journeying to Austin to testify before the State Board of Education and confront publishers with their objections. After a few years, they were doing lectures and making appearances across the country and were almost as well known as Phyllis Schlafly, an opponent of the Equal Rights Amendment, or James Dobson, founder of the Christian organization Focus on the Family.

Textbook Activist Mel Gabler, 89 (washingtonpost.com):

A few years later, Mr. Gabler complained that textbooks were indoctrinating children with a philosophy of humanism that was alien to mainstream America. He also protested the influence of the women’s liberation movement, which, he said, had “totally distorted male and female roles, making the women masculine and the men effeminate.”

Well, the organization they founded, Educational Research Analysts, is still carrying on it’s mission to catch factual errors in the name of advancing their conservative, Christian ideology in the public schools.

Extending Mel Gabler’s Legacy

Mel left in place the rule that however many 2+2=5-type factual errors we find in textbooks, they are but means to our chief end of critiquing textbooks’ substantive subject-matter content as Christian conservatives, whose thoroughness and knowledgeability our error lists just confirm.

And on what basis do they critique the subject-matter content? The following are some of their sample standard review criteria:

American Literature

Story content should present:

  • A universe that rewards virtue and punishes vice, where good and evil are not moral equivalents, and where problems have solutions.

  • Diverse views on current controversial issues, when raided (e.g., “global warming,” feminism, naturalistic origins myths like evolution)

  • No sensational violence, offensive language or illustrations, occultism, or deviant lifestyles (e.g., homosexuality)

  • No pattern of pejoratives stigmatizing one group and superlatives idealizing another

  • No politically-correct steroetypes of oppressors and/or victims by race, class, or gender.

So no grappling with intractable problems for high schoolers studying literature. No readings from the slave’s perspective or those from women or poor people. Unless they happen to be very content with their station in life.

I can’t figure out why they would want diverse views of controversial issues if all problems have a solution. Doesn’t that mean there isn’t more than one side to a story after all?

My point is that this group is still here, still active. It’s just not in the public spotlight as it once has been.

Q & A

 

 

You no longer testify at the Texas State Board of Education annual textbook adoption public hearings. Why?

 

Lowering our voice and working under opponents’ radar gets better results.

Reading From the Right:

Under the direction of Frey, who is assisted by his wife, Judy, the textbook shop has steadily evolved from the Gablers’ era. While Mel and Norma issued textbook reviews as near-celebrities, storming public hearings and sitting for interviews with Phil Donahue and “60 Minutes,” Frey, a former college professor, works in near-anonymity, making his points through the faxes and newsletters he sends to subscribers and textbook decisionmakers.

The State Board of Education elections matter. There isn’t anywhere near as much money involved in the campaigns but the stakes are much higher–the education of your children and the future health of our democracy.

October 25, 2006

Another endorsement in SBOE District 9 Race

Editorial: Charlton for state school board:

A few years ago, smelling a political opportunity, several candidates representing the Christian right skillfully targeted state school board seats. Their objective was to dictate the content of textbooks and to counter such things as the teaching of evolution and of history they considered to be anti-American or pro-feminist.McLeroy, a critic of evolution theory as it pertains to human origins, often is an ally with the religious-right bloc on the board.

That’s not to say McLeroy is not independent or thoughtful. He is both. But Charleton would be less likely to vote with those who want to play politics with children’s education.

Editorial: Charlton for state school board:

Not that McLeroy is the prime culprit in any fashion, but too often the state board turns into ideological mud wrestling. We’d prefer it to be about education.

Well, what do you expect from the Waco Tribune-Herald? After all, they’re endorsing Strayhorn as well.

October 2, 2006

Your Texas State Board of Education: Don McLeroy

District 9 of the Texas State Board of Education is represented by Don McLeroy of Bryan, Texas. Apparently, McLeroy doesn’t like to let little things like facts get in his way. Recently, he was one of the board members advocating changing Texas English , Reading, and Writing standards.

Texas Ed: Comments on Education from Texas:

“Texas standards are not grade-level specific, most of them are noise. They can’t be measured and are just a bunch of fuzzy words,” McLeroy said.

Fuzzy words like these for high school English:

Texas Ed: Comments on Education from Texas:

(B) demonstrate control over grammatical elements such as subject-verb agreement, pronoun-antecedent agreement, verb forms, and parallelism;

Pretty fuzzy alright. Anyone can review the TEKS standards online at the TEA website. You can read more about the curriculum changes here:

All other states, beware! Texas is changing curriculum standards!

His seat is actually being contested by Maggie Charleton. And a lot of people seem to prefer her to McLeroy.

Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Opinion: Editorials:

First, Ms. Charleton. The Bryan Democrat is much less likely than her opponent, Republican incumbent Don McLeroy of Bryan, to use her position to insert politics into the review of textbooks. She says the board should review textbooks to see whether they meet the standards set by experts, not for a particular view of the world. That makes sense.Dr. McLeroy, a 60-year-old Bryan dentist, wants the state board weighing in more directly on textbooks. He’s been part of the group that wants broader review powers, even though the Legislature rightly stripped the board of much of this authority.

Dr. McLeroy, backed by religious conservatives, has been on the board since 1998. We believe it’s time to infuse the board with some new blood, and Ms. Charleton, with her 30 years of teaching experience, seems to have a lot to offer.

Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas – Charleton on a ‘listening tour’:

Charleton, a Democrat, is challenging incumbent Don McLeroy of Bryan. The seat is a swing position in a struggle for control of the board, she insists. Ideology is taking the upper hand on the board, overruling the needs of kids and parents.She points to the editing of text books to remove references to slavery in history, to remove information about breast self-exams and testicle self-exams from health books, and evolution from biology texts.

McLeroy is part of the group that includes Miller and Leo who are interested in regaining control of content of text books. His seat matters.

Retired teacher challenges SBOE incumbent in District 9:

The Texas Freedom Network, a non-partisan watchdog group that advocates a mainstream agenda of religious freedom and individual liberties, calls the District 9 seat the “swing seat” that will determine whether moderates or “political and religious ultra-conservatives” control the 15-member board.

Retired teacher challenges SBOE incumbent in District 9:

In the past, conservative Republicans on the board have advocated limiting the way Texas public school curriculum deals with issues like evolution, civil rights, sexuality education and environmental issues. In response to ideological infighting on the SBOE, the Texas legislature 11 years ago removed the board’s power to determine textbook content as part of the textbook adoption process.Conservative Republicans now hold seven of the 15 seats on the state board.

Charleton says she would like to bring mainstream Texas values and common sense to the board’s deliberations.

Here’s part of a letter written to Miller concerning McLeroy’s actions.

Texas Citizens for Science:

But that still was not enough. Unwillingly to let the TEA textbook staff do their jobs, Dr. McLeroy thought it necessary to correspond with the biology textbook publishers themselves and act like a one-man Texas Education Agency. He reminded publishers on Jan. 8 that “there is a process by which errors that remain in the books will be fixed before they get into the hands of children,” and that their “cooperation in it is required.” This sort of ex parte communication is probably not legal, and is certainly very irregular and unwise. The only way to explain this is to conclude that Dr. McLeroy is bullying the publishers, an exercise of over-reaching that all pseudoscientists engage in and serves as one of its identifiers. After all the implied threats and coercion that textbook publishers have to endure under the normal Texas textbook adoption process to change their books’ content to satisfy the political, religious, and social desires of the State Board as a single entity, now they are having to endure individual Board members calling them up with the same implied threats and informing them their “cooperation” is “required” in yet another sleazy attempt to satisfy the Discovery Institute’s wishes. No wonder our country’s textbook publishers feel they are harassed by the Texas process. Believe me, they complain privately about this, and their complaints are fully justified.There exists even further evidence that these actions were part of a planned strategy to censor the evolution content of the biology books despite their overwhelming adoption by the SBOE without changes asked for by the Discovery Institute and other creationist organizations: while the public–including scientists and science educators, and probably most members of the State Board of Education–were kept ignorant of the details of the behind-the-scene maneuverings of Dr. McLeroy to intimidate publishers, the details were known to members of other creationist organizations. Mr. Frank Mayo, an officer of Texans for Better Science Education, was obviously aware of the push to damage the biology books under the guise of “error correction,” since he referred to this effort in his message to the Katy ISD Board as they considered which biology textbook to adopt.

There’s plenty more but since the letter was addressed to Miller, I suspect she didn’t see any reason to pursue any of it’s claims.

Visit McLeroy’s webpage for more information on his priorities and beliefs. He begins with the need for teaching “clear thinking” in Texas schools.

Clear Thinking about the Texas Public School System:

Thus, the most amazing “orthodoxy” which dominates the educational establishment “leviathan” today is the slighting of “facts and knowledge” for emphasis on problem-solving and critical thinking. Problem solving and critical thinking are secondary skills. Before one can think and solve he must first have something to think about.

I have to admit that I only skimmed the stuff. But jeez, he calls it “clear thinking” but it isn’t supposed to emphasis critical thinking skills. I suspect this falls into the realm of Leo’s tendencies to indoctrination rather than thinking. What can I say, I work in a profession that didn’t even exist when I was in graduate school and I coach Odyssey of the Mind. Facts accumulate and even change over time. We need to be able to figure out how to use them.

If you want facts against evolution or comprehensive sex education, McLeroy’s website is the place for it. Of course, I find it curious that he doesn’t present a whole lot of facts backing up his abstinence only approach to sex education.

As for his approach to evolution? I didn’t bother with it. People who want evolution out of the schools aren’t interested in science being able to explain and predict the world around us, they are interested in discrediting anything that contradicts their religious beliefs.

I do believe this gets us back to indoctrination again. Is education about the filling of the pail or the lighting of the fire? Oh, wait a minute. Did Yeats believe in evolution?

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