In a press release, Hinojosa announced he will introduce legislation to abolish the SBOE next session. "In framing curriculum guidelines, the SBOE appears to be shaping an extreme, if not myopic, view of social studies material to be used in Texas schools," the press release reads. (The release is attached.)
The intiative might be tough to pass, since the state constitution authorizes the board to oversee the Permanent School Fund. Last session, state Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, offered a bill to take the Permanent School Fund oversight away from the SBOE, but her efforts failed to garner the votes necessary for a Constitutional amendment.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill White is taking a different approach to the hating-the-SBOE bandwagon. He's issued a request that Gov. Rick Perry reject the various amendments to the social studies curriculum that the board members approved at their last meeting.
White's press release says: "Individual school board members are no doubt sincere in their beliefs, and some of the changes can be debated by reasonable people. But, under the leadership of another extreme Rick Perry appointee, the amendment process injected politics into our school books and classrooms." White already attacked the board over the weekend for social studies broohaha, prompting blogger Paul Burka to suggest that the perceptions of the state board as extremeist might be White's best line of attack against Perry.
Catherine Frazier, spokesperson for the Perry campaign, says Perry has no plans to lobby the board members, who are all independently elected. "The governor is confident in the process that’s in place," she explained.
The amendments, which generally pushed to include more conservative figures and ideas while curtailing the requirements around liberal concepts, led to such contentious debate that one Democratic member left in protest. The board will vote on the full curriculum at their May meeting — but whether the amendments will be there remains to be seen.
White's full press release:
Bill White today called on Governor Perry to urge his appointed Chair of the State Board of Education to send amendments back to the original curriculum review teams. The State Board of Education (SBOE) recently voted on more than 100 amendments to social studies curriculum standards that will guide textbooks and classroom materials for years to come.
The overly political process and outcomes disrespected professional educators and historians.
The original standards were developed by curriculum review teams comprised of classroom teachers and subject matter experts.
"Individual school board members are no doubt sincere in their beliefs, and some of the changes can be debated by reasonable people. But, under the leadership of another extreme Rick Perry appointee, the amendment process injected politics into our school books and classrooms," said Bill White. "That is a step in the wrong direction, requiring leadership from our Governor."
"Rick Perry must ask his appointed chair to send the curriculum standards back to review teams before final adoption in May," White continued.
Amendments voted upon by the SBOE included removing the concept of "justice" from a list of characteristics for good citizenship for grades one through three and the word "capitalism," a well-known economic concept.
The SBOE also voted to remove Thomas Jefferson from a social studies standard about historical figures who inspired political change in the late 18th century.
Governor Perry's current appointee as Chair, Gail Lowe, wanted Supreme Court Justice and civil rights pioneer Thurgood Marshall removed from a section on citizenship because he is "not particularly known for [his] citizenship."
Perry's previous appointed chair of the SBOE, Don McLeroy, engaged in such extreme antics that the Texas Senate refused to confirm him the second time Perry appointed him in 2009.
McLeroy, who said education is, "too important not to be politicized," was recently defeated by Republican primary voters.
"Voters have spoken and simply want leaders who will put our children's preparation for college and careers ahead of any political agenda," White said.
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