Texas Ed: Comments on Education from Texas

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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August 10, 2007

Education priorities in Texas

Filed under: education priorities, Freedom of Religion — texased @ 9:09 am

New state law bolsters use of Bibles in classrooms

But if just 15 students at any school request such a course, according to the new law, the district must find a way to offer an elective focusing on the Bible’s historic or literary value, said state Rep. Wayne Christian, who co-wrote the bill.

Too bad students can’t get together to request other classes. Actually, they can make the request, the district just doesn’t have to do anything about it. If 15 students ask for an AP Biology class, the district can ignore it. If they ask for a Latin class, the district can dismiss them. If they ask for a computer coding class, the district can claim they don’t have the resources. But if they ask for a Bible class (does it specify the version?) the district has to provide it. How’s that for education priorities in Texas? Maybe the students can just pray for the other classes.

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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 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?

June 21, 2006

Define “worldview”

Some people just can’t help to pick and choose their facts to favor their beliefs even when they realize they probably don’t know everything that is going on. They heard a catch phrase and that’s enough. Case in point…

Spunky of Spunky’s Homeschool Blog initially posted information about a Belgium homeschooler being unfairly persecuted by the authorities under an entry “Stupid in Belgium.” Fortunately, Daryl with his HE&OS blog and on the Homeschool Watch list found some additional information that would indicate things aren’t necessarily as they seem.

HE&OS:

So, the parents are members of a political party that, if not banned outright, skirts the very edges. I think it might be best if the conservative/homeschool bloggers (AND HSLDA) just sit this one out.

Valeria over at HEM backed him up.

News & Commentary Home Page » Blog Archive » Belgian editor-author summoned to police station because of homeschooling:

Many of us object to the ‘one world government’ being imposed upon us via our government signing U.N. treaties, but yet we are in favor of a U.S. viewpoint of law as the standard for all other countries.

So Spunky comes back and acknowledges that

SpunkyHomeSchool: Clash of Worldviews:

I’m sure there are many facets to this case we don’t know or understand.

in a post entitled “Clash of Worldviews.” Let’s see, so she is sure that there are many facets that she doesn’t understand BUT because she found the quote below, she thinks it is just a symptom of a greater clash of world views.

SpunkyHomeSchool: Clash of Worldviews:

I came across this quote by the Mr. Belien that tells a little more about their family’s worldview,Europeans have foolishly replaced God by the State as the one on whom they rely to take care of all their needs from cradle to grave. The religious vacuum has led to a demographic vacuum, because those who lose faith in God lose faith in the future as well. A civilization that has created a religious and a demographic vacuum is bound to perish.

If this is indicative of what the “separatists” stand for, I can see why the state is trying to keep him quiet.

It’s all so calm and reasonable and she has her escape route by prefacing her statements with “if” and “appears.” The quote she provided also makes it seem rather reasonable–if you don’t look too closely. Substitute “Christian” for religious and “white European” for demographic and things take on a new meaning. And given the context of the quote, I would argue that is what by all “appearances” Paul Belien means and what Spunky actually thinks. Here is what appears directly before and after the quote:

Is This the End? | The Brussels Journal:

I have repeatedly defended the view that Muslim immigrants are not to blame for Europe’s predicament. The latter is entirely of our own making. Europeans have foolishly replaced God by the State as the one on whom they rely to take care of all their needs from cradle to grave. The religious vacuum has led to a demographic vacuum, because those who lose faith in God lose faith in the future as well. A civilization that has created a religious and a demographic vacuum is bound to perish.The lights are turning out for Europe. If America follows Europe’s example Christendom is lost.

This is about the rule of Christendom. It doesn’t matter if the Muslim immigrants become Flemish or not because even the Flemish are abandoning Christendom. They’re just one symptom.

Why does this bother me so?

1. Despite even saying she doesn’t know what all is going on, Spunky had to put in the last word of support of this guy since he “appears” to share the same beliefs.

2. She presented the belief as something within the context of national socialism versus religious belief. This is sure to be accepted by most Americans: socialism-bad, religious freedom-good. I know she never says this but this is the way it “appears” to me, making it seem a reasonable “clash of world views.”

3. I can accept a reasonable argument about to what extent immigrants need to assimilate into their new, chosen society. But this is really about the need for a nation to be Christian.

“If” she generally believes the preceding than it would “appear” that someone like me wouldn’t be welcomed into her community even though I have relatives who have fought for this country for seven plus generations. This wouldn’t be such a big deal except for the fact that she “seems” to think the United States should look just like her community.

It’s a bait and switch and I’m seeing more and more of it. For example: “It’s not freedom ‘from’ religion but freedom ‘of’ religion.” It’s neither, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of Religion.”

I don’t know if it’s deliberate on her part or not but it doesn’t matter since in either case it is making it a more difficult country for me to live. But then again, I guess that’s the point.

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