There are ideologues front and center in the classroom where instead there should be teachers and students.
Two highly qualified women in Texas have stepped up as State Board of Eduction (SBOE) candidates so they can roll back some of the more outrageous changes to the curriculum that non-educators with a fringe agenda have imposed on Texas schoolbooks.
Just how outside the mainstream are these ideological ideas? Religious and other right-wing board members have been busy
- Disputing Darwin's theory of evolution in favor of Bible teachings.
- Checking to see if schoolbooks reflect one person's belief that this is "a Christian nation founded on Christian principles."
- Downplaying the civil rights movement, or removing cherished historical figures altogether, like that "radical" author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson.
- Insisting that a picture of a briefcase-carrying mom be replaced with a picture of a mom baking a cake.
At best, these are narrow views; at worst--factually incorrect, indicative of poor scholarship, or simply unconstitutional. These hothouse views aren't sturdy enough to survive outside in the bustling free marketplace of ideas--a marketplace that's increasingly internationally competitive. The future will belong to the overall best-educated nation.
So it's even more puzzling when someone hostile to public education is herself a State Board of Education member shaping public school curricula; she's called public schools "unconstitutional, tyrannical, and tools of perversion."
These are not mainstream ideas. But this group of religious and social conservatives in Texas have grabbed the reins of the school textbook oversight process and injected their politics into books 4.7 million Texas schoolchildren will use. And because Texas is the second-largest textbook market after California, publishers who cater to Texas' curriculum requirements will carry the same content over to textbooks for children in smaller states.
Fringe conservatives on the State Board of Education are spending more time stirring up culture wars and pushing ill-supported interpretations of history and science than they are looking for solutions to problems students and teachers face in the classroom.
Support Judy Jennings and Rebecca Bell-Metereau. They're women like you, who believe that culture battles drain energy and attention from the crucial task of making merely good schools into excellent ones. Hear what they have to say, and donate if you can, even if you don't live in District 10 or District 5. The ideologue you help keep out of the Texas classroom is one less battle to fight in your own school district.
UPDATED TO ADD: Now it seems the Republican incumbent that Rebecca Bell-Metereau is challenging refuses to debate her. What's he afraid of?
Cynematic blogs at P i l l o w b o o k.