Monday afternoon Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst performed a feat only politicians seem able to do on a regular basis, at least with a straight face. He denounced politicizing an issue that he was holding a press conference to politicize:
“This issue is about teaching Texas children. I personally have a problem with any effort to politicize this process. It is an affront to these families, and Texas families across the state, and the values we hold dear as Texans.”
Oh please. About the only thing missing from this press conference was a ritual book burning.
Dewhurst was flanked at the press conference by tea party and other political activists — the same ones he and Sen. Dan Patrick have been courting in their coming Republican primary battle. Patrick and Dewhurst have competed in recent months to see which one can pretend to be the most outraged — OUTRAGED! — by classroom lessons written by current and retired Texas teachers (known radicals, of course).
On Monday, Dewhurst repeatedly charged that those CSCOPE lessons are plagued by “errors” and “bias.” He offered zero examples. Do “the values we hold dear as Texans” include promoting unsubstantiated smears and falsehoods to help you win an election?
He and the political activists who followed him to the microphone praised a state district judge who has issued a temporary restraining order against the use of CSCOPE in the Llano Independent School District. Dewhurst, state Rep. Steve Toth, R-The Woodlands, and those political activists declared that using CSCOPE lessons that haven’t been approved by the State Board of Education (SBOE) is a violation of a law Toth helped pass in the last session, SB 1406.
Problem: nothing in that law or any other Texas statute requires teachers to use only lesson plans that the SBOE approves. To suggest otherwise reveals either a real ignorance of state law and the SBOE adoption process or a determination to lie to voters.
This press conference was depressing for so many reasons. One reason was that the man occupying the second-highest state office in Texas chose to stand with a gang of political fanatics who have spent months claiming that Texas teachers are writing lessons promoting Marxism and Islam while attacking Christianity and American patriotism. He stood with fanatics who have suggested that nearly 900 public school districts plus charter and Christian schools would actually use such lessons. With fanatics who have thrown respect for “local control” — supposedly a Republican value — out the window. Fanatics who are praising a judge for engaging in a blatant example of judicial activism, the kind of judicial activism they otherwise denounce.
But maybe one of the saddest things about this press conference was the obvious assumption by Dewhurst and the other speakers that Texas voters are so feeble-minded that they’ll believe all that horse manure. Well, we’ll see.