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 19, 2008

If They’re Allowed to do Whatever They Want, Then They Didn’t Break the Law

Texas Ed Spectator » Blog Archive » If they’re allowed to do whatever they want, then they didn’t break the law
More on the Texas SBOE’s rejection of a third grade math book. Now the majority has voted to strike the minority reports from the official record of the board’s minutes. It seems that while our San Antonio representative couldn’t bring himself to vote on the original matter, he has joined the majority in censoring the minority.
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 6, 2008

Special privileges for Bible classes

Filed under: education, Religious Right, Separation of Church and State — texased @ 10:13 pm
Texas Ed Spectator » Blog Archive » Special privileges for Bible classes
MySA.com: Metro | State

Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee the bill’s author, said that if 15 or more students express interest in the Bible as Literature course, districts must offer it.

“A lot of schools don’t know they can have the course, and this bill notifies them that the Supreme Court ruled school districts can offer it,” Chisum said. “School districts should know they can offer the course because it better prepares students for college literature and history classes.”

So why do students have this right for only one class? Why shouldn’t they be able to petition for calculus, Greek, Shakespeare, or microbiology? Surely they help better prepare students for college work as well? Why is the public school system giving special preference to a specific course?

Complete post at my new website www.texasedspectator.com.

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January 31, 2007

You don’t have to identify yourself as a homeschooler

Filed under: Homeschooling, Religious Right — texased @ 6:48 pm

HSLDA | New Hampshire Legislation 2007—House Bill 51: Legalizing Adoption by Unmarried “Couples”:

Action Requested:
Please call and/or email members of the House Children and Family Law Committee (listed below) and give them this message:

“Please vote against House Bill 51 to protect New Hampshire adoptive children by keeping the adoption process based on the traditional interpretation of the family.”

You do not have to identify yourself as a homeschooler. Though this bill affects homeschoolers, it also affects every family in New Hampshire.

Whenever they say that “you do not have to identify yourself as a homeschooler” I suspect that it’s probably an issue that a “national” homeschooling group that claims to represent “all” homeschoolers shouldn’t be involved.

January 25, 2007

The defenders of the First Amendment

Filed under: Homeschooling, Religious Right — texased @ 11:27 am

Guess the Home School Legal Defense Association can continue fulfilling it’s homeschool mandate by making sure marriage is defined as between a man and a woman.

HSLDA | S. 1—The Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act of 2007:

Senate Bill 1 is a bipartisan bill and contains much-needed congressional reforms. However, Section 220 of S. 1 was set to redefine lobbying to include “paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying.” Under this label, all organizations engaged in grassroots lobbying would have been required to comply with all federal lobbying laws, including registration with Congress and a filing of quarterly reports to Congress. Failure to comply would have resulted in fines of up to $200,000 per the Vitter Amendment No. 10 on January 12, and possible criminal penalties of up to 10 years in prison created by Section 223 of the substitute bill. The Bennett Amendment passed on a 55-43 vote, removing Section 220 and the grassroots lobbying provisions. Immediately following, Senate Bill 1 was passed on a vote of 96-2. It now goes to the House for consideration.

Apparently gay marriage is a parental right issue for homeschoolers.

I know Section 220 had some problems and all the conservative groups who opposed the bill love to point out that the ACLU had some problems with bill. Go over to the ACLU website and you’ll see the difference. The ACLU points the problems with the specific definitions. In other words, the ACLU mentions that this bill has a financial consideration ($25,000) a quarter and didn’t apply to members although there is a problem in what constitutes a member. The other organizations didn’t seem to get past mentioning the penalties if you didn’t comply or the “500” number.

So somehow I can’t shake the feeling that the outcry was so one-sided because groups on that side have been getting away with something. Like sending out legislative action alerts on behalf of other organizations for issue that aren’t related to homeschooling.

December 4, 2006

TEKS need to be in the student textbook as well

80(R) HB 77 – Introduced version – Bill Text:

REQUIRED TEXTBOOK ADOPTION AND TEXTBOOK LISTS. (a) �For each subject and grade level, the State Board of Education shall adopt textbooks that contain all elements of the essential knowledge and skills of the subject and grade level, as determined by the State Board of Education under Section 28.002, in the student versions of the textbooks, as well as in the teacher versions of the textbooks.

Just guessing here but I would think this is an attempt to force textbook publishers to include “controversial” topics such as evolution and birth control in the students’ textbooks as well as the teachers’ versions. My impression has been that textbook publishers have been able to mollify the more conservative members of the State Board of Education (who, of course, have no political agenda) by leaving it up to the teachers to decide whether or not to address certain issues.

In fact, it takes away the SBOE’s authority although if the SBOE doesn’t decide if all the elements are included, I don’t know who would.

80(R) HB 77 – Introduced version – Bill Text:

[and] contains material covering all elements
  [each element] of the essential knowledge and skills of the subject
  and grade level in the student version of the textbook, as well as
  in the teacher version of the textbook;�[as determined by the State
  Board of Education under Section 28.002] and

In any case, I bet SBOE members aren’t going to be big supporters of this bill.

November 1, 2006

Ken Mercer: District 5 Candidate

Ken Mercer is running for the State Board of Eduction in district five. He, like board member Terri Leo, believes that the major media outlets in Texas have mischaracterized the Attorney General’s ruling concerning textbooks and the role of the SBOE. If you want to see why I think the media was right, see “Leo’s Letter and Why She Lost” for more information. For someone big on facts, Mercer manages to leave out facts like what the letter Leo actually wrote requested.

Leo’s Letter and why she lost « Texas Ed: Comments on Education from Texas:

General textbook content standards tell publishers what textbooks should not include – e.g., no sensational violence, no blatantly offensive language or illustrations, no group stereotyping. General textbook content standards are a democratic check and balance by Texas’ elected State Board of Education on editors and authors, monitoring accountability on concerns that the TEKS by their nature cannot address.

But even if we were to agree on facts, I’m pretty sure I would have a hard time communicating with Mercer since I’m not certain we’re even speaking the same language, English, that is. Take the following excerpt of what Mercer wrote arguing that the media got it wrong and that the ruling was a great victory for conservatives.

TexasInsider – Opinion – Ken Mercer – Statewide Media LIes to 22 Million Texans

Abbott’s GA-0456 opens describing the flawed, ten-year-old Morales opinion:

“This (1996) office considered both of these issues in Attorney General Opinion DM-424 and concluded that (1) the Board has no authority to adopt rules establishing content criteria for textbook approval beyond that contained in the Education Code and (2) the Board lacks authority to consider ancillary items.”

Then AG Abbott clarified the rationale for reconsidering that 1996 opinion: “You ask us to reevaluate that opinion.”

Here is what the AG concluded:

“The Board has significant statutory authority over textbooks and textbook content in the adoption process.”

“We accordingly conclude that the Board may adopt general textbook content standards to the extent such standards fall within the express powers granted by the Education Code and those impliedpowers necessary to effectuate its express powers.”

A huge SBOE victory and major defeat for liberals! Two more “killer” Abbott quotes:

“Opinion DM-424 wrongly concludes that the terms “supplementary instructional ‘materials” and “ancillary materials” are mutually exclusive.”

“Opinion DM-424 further errs in suggesting that it is textbook publishers, not the Board, who determine what materials are textbooks subject to the Boards review jurisdiction.”

For the SMM, it gets worse:

“To the extent Opinion DM-424 is read or applied inconsistently with this conclusion, that opinion is overruled.”

How did the SMM miss the four occurrences of the legal word “overruled”?

How is the second statement in red type a tremendous victory over the first statement in green type? Both say they have power based on what is granted by the Education Code. The 1996 opinion states the board has no power “beyond” what is stated and the Abbott opinion states the board has power to the “extent” granted by the Education Code. Am I missing something here?

Abbot overruled the second part (underlined purple font) statement of the 1996 opinion. The board has the right to evaluate ancillary items and that does make sense. However, I think Leo was asking for more than to just the right to apply to ancillary items the same authority already granted to the board to evaluate textbooks. She was looking for Abbott to add language interpreting the Education Code that would expand the board’s authority. Fortunately, Abbott didn’t rise to the bait.

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