Update: Texas SBOE Did the Right Thing Today
“Update: Texas SBOE Did the Right Thing Today”
By Donna Garner
First, to get the background for yesterday’s preliminary vote by the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE), please read the following article – 11.17.15 — “Thomas Ratliff Trying To Make Himself Relevant” — by Donna Garner — http://www.educationviews.org/thomas-ratliff-relevant/
In Wednesday’s SBOE meeting, Thomas Ratliff presented his proposal that would create a separate state review panel – a whole new layer of scrutiny — made up of college and university professors to review proposed instructional materials (a.k.a., textbooks).
I well remember when the SBOE was debating the Social Studies curriculum standards and textbooks. A group of 52 college professors made the outrageous statement that they wanted the Board “to eliminate” references to America’s religious heritage in the history books.
This left-wing bias among professors has been documented repeatedly. According to Inside Higher Ed (10.24.12), among full-time faculty members at four-year colleges and universities, the percentage identifying as Far left, Liberal, or Middle-of-the-Road is 88.1%. Those identifying as Conservative or Far Right is only 11.9% (https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/10/24/survey-finds-professors-already-liberal-have-moved-further-left).
Thankfully in today’s SBOE meeting, the majority of the Board did the right thing and voted 8 to 7 against Thomas Ratliff’s proposal. Those voting against Ratliff’s proposal were Donna Bahorich, Ken Mercer, Barbara Cargill, David Bradley, Pat Hardy, Tincy Miller, Sue Melton-Malone, Marty Rowley.
However, 7 people did the wrong thing and chose to vote with Ratliff – Maynard, Dominguez, Cortez, Perez, Allen, and Beltran.
Another vote (First Reading) will be taken on Ratliff’s proposal this Friday, 11.20.15; and a final vote (Second Reading) will occur at the Jan. 2016 SBOE meeting.
Excerpts from the 11.18.15 Dallas Morning News (http://trailblazersblog.dallasnews.com/2015/11/texas-school-board-rejects-push-to-enlist-academics-to-check-textbooks-for-factual-errors.html/) —
State Board of Education members on Wednesday narrowly rejected a plan to create a group of state university professors to scour Texas schoolchildren’s textbooks for factual errors.
…At issue is whether the board should continue to rely on publishers and the public to flag errors. Currently, citizen panels nominated by the board have a narrower mission – to determine whether a book fits into Texas’ curriculum standards. Mostly, current and retired teachers sit on the panels.
Under his [Thomas Ratliff’s] proposal, the board could set up a new panel drawn “solely from Texas institutions of higher education” to check the books for errors.
…Several board conservatives, though, questioned the need for a secondary review panel.
Beaumont Republican board member David Bradley said university professors are free “to bring forth errors now,” by communicating with the board.
…“I don’t want to send a message that … we feel the college people are more important. I don’t want that,” she [Tincy Miller] said.
…In addition to teachers, current panels can include parents, employers, business and industry leaders and subject-matter experts…
Retired Lt. Col. Roy White of the conservative Truth in Texas Textbooks Coalition, though, said the state “is fortunate to have the current system.”
It could be more transparent, he said. White said the board should require publishers, for example, to list who they use as advisers.
“No further review panels are required,” he said.
…Although school districts in Texas are free to choose whatever books they want to use, most stay with the list adopted by the state board because it tracks the curriculum standards as well as questions asked on state achievement tests.