Ever since the Texas State Board of Education became a battle ground in the culture wars, the Texas Freedom Network has tried to emphasize one point: education should not be a partisan issue. That message is now resonating with state lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, with even Republicans expressing their concerns over the politicized distortions the state board injected into new social studies curriculum standards.
On Tuesday, top state House Republicans became the latest to join the chorus of critics calling on the state board to revisit the social studies standards approved by the board last year. As you know, those standards were highly politicized by a far-right faction of board members and touched off an international firestorm. The Texas Freedom Network, teachers and historians criticized board members for revising the standards to promote their own political and personal agendas.
The San Antonio Express-News reports that Texas House Appropriations Chairman Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie; Public Education Chairman Rob Eissler, R-The Woodlands; and House Administration Chairman Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth; have publicly expressed their concern over the standards.
As Geren stated:
“These standards and the way they were developed just don’t pass the common-sense test. The law has a process laid out for how to write our state’s curriculum, and they thumbed their nose at it and wrote standards themselves.”
This comes about a month after the conservative Fordham Institute gave the standards a grade of “D.” And there are at least a dozen bills pending in the Texas Legislature that would do everything from stripping the board of some of its authority to completely eliminating it.
In today’s political climate, it’s a challenge to get the Ds and the Rs together on anything. But here we have politicians and interests groups from across political and partisan divides rallying around accurate history and quality public education.
The only ones still sticking to their guns are the people who made this an issue to begin with. In the same Express-News article, Board Member David Bradley, R-Beaumont, says there’s no more time to revisit social studies, that the Board has moved on to writing new standards for math and health education. Board Chair Gail Lowe has said as much of late, in addition to the defending the accuracy of the standards.
No time, Mr. Bradley and Chairwoman Lowe? You have plenty of time. If you haven’t noticed, the state is in a $27 billion hole, and we won’t have the money to buy the textbooks the standards were written for anytime soon. It’s not about your schedule; it’s about getting it right.
Defenders of the flawed standards have often tried to discredit critics as merely partisan. That argument was never valid and is even more absurd now.