Jun 10, 2015 by

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton

“Taking Back Our Children’s Minds – TAG Ruling Requested by SBOE Chair”

By Donna Garner



For those Texas parents who are frustrated and worried about the type of instructional materials their public school children are being taught, your day has finally come.  


I am thrilled that Barbara Cargill, chair of the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE), has asked Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (TAG) for a ruling on the issue of instructional materials (IM’s such as textbooks, digitized curriculum, computer systems, programs, etc.) and whether it makes sense for there to be two different sets of rules – one that applies to SBOE-adopted IM’s and another set that applies to IM’s purchased under SB 6. 


By law (Texas Education Code), the SBOE has to follow distinct, detailed, and numerous requirements over the IM’s that are publicly adopted by the elected members of the SBOE and that are adopted at the local level.


Now Ms. Cargill is asking for the TAG to decide whether those very same TEC requirements should extend to the IM’s purchased under SB 6.  


It seems logical that the purpose of the public funds under SB 6 should be to purchase IM’s that cover the Texas curriculum standards (TEKS) and to prepare students for the STAAR/End-of-Course tests to the very same degree that the IM’s on the SBOE-approved list do.  However, this is not occurring in Texas.


Case in point: Publishers and Education Service Centers have been allowed under SB 6 to sell their products directly to local school districts without those IM’s having to undergo the close scrutiny and accountability to verify their alignment to the TEKS and STAAR/EOC’s.  SB 6 (using our tax dollars) has allowed CSCOPE and other Common Core-aligned curriculum materials to flood into Texas public schools even though the TAG (Greg Abbott) on 6.17.14 ruled that Common Core is illegal in Texas (RQ-1175-GA).


In the 82nd Legislative Session in 2011, hundreds of technology lobbyists came to Texas.  They and Thomas Ratliff (registered lobbyist for Microsoft) pressured the Texas Legislature into passing SB 6; and against the pleas of many concerned grassroots citizens (such as Neal Frey, MerryLynn Gerstenschlager, and others), Gov. Rick Perry signed SB 6 into law in  July 2011.


SB 6 allows vendors to sell their costly products without the oversight by the elected members of the Texas State Board of Education.  This is wrong.  Any IM’s that are purchased with our tax dollars should be held to the very same level of accountability as do the IM’s that are on the SBOE-adopted list.  Instructional materials that end up on our Texas students’ desks should be carefully vetted in public hearings and by citizen committees.  


Thanks to SBOE Chair Cargill, the matter is now in the hands of the Texas Attorney General.  His ruling should be rendered in a few months.  


To read Ms. Cargill’s request to the TAG on 6.8.15, please go to this link:   https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/opinions/opinions/51paxton/rq/2015/pdf/RQ0026KP.pdf




Donna Garner


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