By Donna Garner * May 21, 2010
Anxious people all over the country have been following the SBOE process because the decisions made today could have wide-ranging implications for public schools across the nation since many textbook publishers use the Texas standards upon which to base the content of their textbooks.
(These are the chronological notes I made from observing the meeting. I apologize ahead of time if there are a few inaccuracies.)
Bob Craig (R-Lubbock) moved to strike the word “benefits” of the free enterprise system and insert “effects” of the free enterprise system. The motion failed (9 to 5 with 1 abstention). The “benefits” of the free enterprise system wording stands as passed in the First Reading of the new World History document.
Cynthia Dunbar (R-Richmond) moved to insert in World History (21-C) the name of William Wilberforce who was a member of Parliament and almost single handedly abolished the slave trade, impacting not only Europe but the United States. This amendment carried 8 to 2.
LEFTISTS’ LIES — THOMAS JEFFERSON
Because the leftists nitpicked and spread lies about the Board saying they had removed Thomas Jefferson totally from the standards (which they certainly did not), today the Board voted unanimously to add Thomas Jefferson’s name back into the Enlightenment Period even though Thomas Jefferson is covered numerous times throughout the TEKS.
Thomas Jefferson’s influence was never removed from the TEKS; that was a lie spread by the media and Texas Freedom Network to serve their own purposes.
Jefferson has always been mentioned in numerous places in the new Social Studies TEKS:
(1) Fifth-grade students will study Thomas Jefferson and his contributions during the American Revolution.
(2) Eighth-grade students will be learning about the history of the United States from the early Colonial Period through Reconstruction, including the study of Thomas Jefferson and the contributions he made to our nation.
(3) High school students who take U.S. Government will “identify significant individuals in the field of government and politics” and will also study Thomas Jefferson.
AMERICA: A CONSTITUTIONAL REPUBLIC
The Board voted today (11 to 3) to make sure that students are taught about the various philosophers whose writings influenced our forefathers to establish a Constitutional Republic.
Terri Leo (R-Spring) pointed out that when Ben Franklin left the Constitutional Convention, he said “We have a Republic if we can keep it.”
Cynthia Dunbar stated that now the term Constitutional Republic is used consistently throughout the new TEKS standards.
The Board voted (11 to 3) to add a new (7G) to U. S. Government. Now students will study the First Amendment (“Congress shall pass no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise therof.”), and students will do an in-depth study of the Constitution to compare and contrast the phrase “separation of church and state,” which does not appear in any founding documents.
Bob Craig tried to change the words “Constitutional Republic” to “Democratic society,” but the motion failed.
David Bradley (R-Beaumont) pointed out that our Pledge of Allegiance says, “I pledge allegiance to the Republic…”
The Board decided to add to the introduction of the K-12 Social Studies TEKS an explanation to clarify Constitutional Republic (e.g., a republic is tied to laws and the U. S. Constitution) vs. a democracy (e.g., based upon majority rule).
EVEN MORE MINORITIES ADDED
The Board agreed with Mary Helen Berlanga (D-Corpus Christi) to move the name of Hector P. Garcia from contributions of political and social leaders to the section on civil rights leaders.
The Board approved Mavis Knight’s (D-Dallas) motion for students to study the impact of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speeches — “I Have a Dream” and “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”
DEBATE TO DELAY ADOPTION
The Board had a lengthy discussion about whether to postpone the adoption of the Social Studies TEKS until July, but Terri Leo emphasized that the SBOE has the legislative authority to adopt the standards; they have been vetted throughout the entire nation; large numbers of minority figures and organizations have been added; and the document has followed the framework and the majority of the content set by the teacher work groups and the experts.
David Bradley pointed out that ten years ago when the Social Studies standards were being adopted, the Democrats were in the majority. “We conservatives took our licks.”
Today Texas’s political scene has changed, and the Republicans on the SBOE are in the majority (10 to 5). This is the political process. Bradley said, “People who cannot understand this elected process need to find a benevolent dictator to follow.”
After various SBOE members said they wanted to vote to delay the adoption of the Social Studies TEKS, Pat Hardy (R-Weatherford) asked for an opinion from Texas Commissioner Robert Scott. He indicated a delay of 60 days would still find the SBOE without total agreement even if more Social Studies experts were brought in. He stated, “The document is what it is.”
Cynthia Dunbar concluded that no matter how long the process lasts, there will still be some who will be disappointed and that she has had many of her constituents tell her to “Stay strong, do not delay.” She said the Board has done its due diligence in following the process.
Bob Craig, Lawrence Allen (D-Fresno), Rick Agosto (D-San Antonio), and Mary Helen Berlanga either wanted to delay until July or start over again on the whole process.
VOTE TO DELAY ADOPTION
The final vote to delay the adoption of the Social Studies TEKS failed 6 to 8.
Ken Mercer (R-San Antonio) explained that it was the experts and/or the teacher writing teams who had wanted to delete from the Social Studies TEKS such terms as Veterans’ Day, July the 4th, the Liberty Bell, Christmas, and Rosh Hashanah. It was the SBOE who put them back into the document.
The writing teams wanted the term “global citizen” to be used instead of “American citizen.”
Mercer told about yesterday’s frustrating experience in which a heckler approached Mercer in a threatening way and began yelling in his ear while he was doing a live interview with FoxNews outside the Texas Education Agency. Mercer never got a chance to set the record straight about the lies being perpetrated across the country.
Mercer told about Jonathan Saenz, a Hispanic attorney with Liberty Institute, who was denied the opportunity to speak at the Mexican American Legislative Caucus even though they hypocritically criticized the SBOE for not having “an open process.”
Mercer explained that the most outrageous thing of all had been the editorial boards who lied about Thomas Jefferson being removed from the new TEKS. The lie was passed from one Texas newspaper to the next and then to other newspapers around the country without any of the reporters bothering to check the facts.
THE GOOD NEWS
Mercer pointed out that because of the hard work of the SBOE, students at every grade level will now observe Celebrate Freedom Week in which they will study the Declaration of Independence and Thomas Jefferson.
ADOPTION OF HIGH-SCHOOL SOCIAL STUDIES TEKS
The high-school Social Studies TEKS were adopted on a 9 to 5 vote.
DISCUSSION OF K-8 SOCIAL STUDIES TEKS
Then came the process to adopt the K-8 Social Studies TEKS.
DISCUSSION OVER CIVIL WAR
Rick Agosto tried to remove references in the Texas History standards to Confederate generals, but David Bradley explained that there were no Union generals from Texas and that students needed to study the Civil War and Reconstruction. Agosto’s motion failed 6 to 8.
Agosto also objected to the requirement that students study Abraham Lincoln’s ideas and contrast them with those of Jefferson Davis in his inaugural address.
Barbara Cargill (R-The Woodlands) explained that she had been the one to write this particular TEK because teacher work group members felt this was an important way for students to analyze/compare/contrast the strengths of Lincoln’s ideas.
ADOPTION OF K-8 SOCIAL STUDIES TEKS
The final adoption of K-8 Texas Social Studies TEKS passed on a 9 to 5 vote.
ADOPTION OF ECONOMICS TEKS
The vote to adopt the TEKS Economics with Emphasis on the Free Enterprise System and Its Benefits was unanimous.
THE HARD WORK OF THE SBOE MEMBERS
It is now 6:30 P. M., Friday night, May 21, 2010; and the Texas State Board of Education is still laboring to discuss other public education issues that are on the agenda, one of those being the Permanent School Fund (PSF).
The SBOE is charged by law to oversee the management of the PSF’s nearly $22 Billion that helps pay for Texas students’ textbooks.
The elected members of the Texas State Board of Education receive no remuneration for their time and dedication, and Texas does not even pay for them to have staff and/or office equipment.
Board members take off from their jobs and from their own personal responsibilities to come to seven meetings a year, lasting from three to four days each meeting.
AN ENDURANCE CONTEST
The Texas State Board of Education has been working since 1:00 P. M., Tuesday, 5.18.10, to finalize the adoption of the Social Studies standards (and to take care of other SBOE business).
The SBOE had 206 people who signed up to testify on Wednesday, 5.19.10; and the members worked from 9:00 A. M. Wednesday until after midnight that night.
Thursday, 5.20.10, the SBOE began work at 8:15 A. M.; and they remained in session until midnight as they went word-by-word over the Social Studies standards (K-12).
As reported by the Austin American-Statesman, “The board members had already heard 22 hours of testimony before Wednesday’s hearing and had received more than 40,000 comments and e-mails on the proposed standards, which have been the subject of much national media attention.”
No one should ever criticize the SBOE for not having an open process, and certainly no one should say that the Board was closed to public comments.
The elected Texas State Board of Education is carrying out its due diligence by being accessible and responsive to all citizens of Texas.
GAIL LOWE, THE REAL CHAMPION
The real champion of the SBOE was Gail Lowe (R-Lampasas) who chaired the meetings. Her calmness under terrible pressure was amazing. With cameras following her around and with crowds of people everywhere, Gail remained even tempered, capable, and unruffled. She never let the complications of parliamentary procedure frustrate her to the point of losing her decorum, and everyone on the Board and in the listening audience knew Gail was fair to all.
THE TEXAS EDUCATION AGENCY STAFF
I also must commend Robert Scott, the Commissioner, and his TEA staff for their hard work and incredible effort to organize the materials and facilities for the meeting. Because the SBOE really needed a document to show the actual changes they had made in the TEKS past midnight last night, TEA staffers stayed up the rest of the night preparing such a document to guide the Board today. Whenever called upon for governmental regulations, the TEA staffers were very knowledgeable and helpful. I contacted the TEA to get a copy of the names of Wednesday’s testifiers; and within a few minutes, the copy was sent to me.
This massive adoption of new Social Studies TEKS could not have occurred without the team effort displayed at the Texas State Board of Education meeting this week.