Tag Archives: SBOE

Pols step up correctly!

My previous blog spoke well of the Texas State Board of Education’s decision to keep teaching elementary public school students about “slavery” and to forgo the use of a term called “involuntary relocation” in our curriculum.

I want to highlight one aspect of that decision. It came unanimously. Yes, 15 members of the SBOE voted as one. Why is that a big deal? Because the SBOE comprises politicians who are elected to the office. They run as Republicans and Democrats. They have constituencies to which they must appeal. They represent vastly different districts drawn across our vast state.

They come from different ideological backgrounds, bias and political leanings.

Yet on this matter, they spoke with one voice.

Make no mistake, the SBOE made the correct statement. The term “slavery” should remain in our public school curriculum to remind our children of the darkest chapter in our nation’s history.

That the SBOE locked arms on this matter is cause for high praise.


SBOE pushes back on language change

Well, I’ll be deep fried and rolled in oats. The Texas State Board of Education, a committee of 15 politicians elected to a panel that determines public school curriculum, has shown some needed guts.

The SBOE appears to have squashed an idea to change the way schools teach second graders about slavery. A group of educators had pitched an idea to call the enslavement of human beings as “involuntary relocation.”

The SBOE said “no” to that idea. Texas’s public schools will continue to teach our children about “slavery,” and will keep the language as it has been presented.

Yahoo News reported: While involuntary relocation isn’t an entirely unknown term in social studies, it often “has relationships to refugees and forced displacement due to violence or ethnic cleansing,” said Neil Shanks, clinical assistant professor of middle and secondary education at Baylor University.

In this case, Shanks added, the term appeared to be “intended to water down the issue of slavery.”

Texas board of education strikes down proposal to call slavery ‘involuntary relocation’ (yahoo.com)

Let’s understand that slavery is the darkest chapter in our nation’s otherwise glorious story. We shouldn’t dilute its impact by introducing the kind of terminology that means next to nothing. “Involuntary relocation?” What the hell is that?

The State Board of Education, to its great credit, voted unanimously to stay the course on teaching our children about the evils of slavery.


No way to soften ‘slavery’

This cannot possibly be real, cannot be serious, cannot be accurate. Some Texas educators now want to introduce a new form of study … changing the term “slavery” to something called “involuntary relocation.”

Good, ever-lovin’ grief! This can’t be happening. Oh, but it is happening.

The Texas Tribune reports:

How do I say this? The enslavement of human beings during the formation and early development of the United States is part of who we are as a nation, who we became and who we sought to correct.

To suggest that our children no longer should be taught what slavery meant to millions of our ancestors is to deny the facts as they occurred.

Texas education proposes referring to slavery as “involuntary relocation” | The Texas Tribune

“I don’t like it because it’s a personal belief. I don’t like it because it’s not rooted in truth,” said Aicha Davis, an SBOE member who represents Dallas and Fort Worth. “We can have all the discussions we want, but we have to adopt the truth for our students.”

We all have been told at times that “the truth hurts.”

Fine. Let it hurt. Slavery is the most egregious blot on our nation’s history. Our children should learn about it in its rawest form.


SBOE inches toward a coming to its senses

It’s difficult for me to refer to the Texas State Board of Education as a 15-member gang of nincompoops. The SBOE, though, is showing troubling signs of seriously dunce-like behavior.

It had decided to remove two pioneer women from public school curricula: Helen Keller, a disability rights advocate and (get a load of this!) Hillary Rodham Clinton, the nation’s first female ever nominated for president by a major political party.

Then the board thought better of it. It restored Keller to the state’s third-grade history curriculum.

Clinton’s restoration isn’t yet final; the SBOE will decide the issue on Friday. I do hope the SBOE makes the right call.

For the ever-lovin’ life of me I don’t understand what the SBOE — an elected board of partisan politicians who set academic curriculum standards for the state’s public schools — is thinking.

It’s the decision to remove Clinton from study in our public classrooms that baffles me in the extreme. She is a contemporary figure who’s still active in the nation’s political discourse.

It looks as though the SBOE is going to restore the former first lady, former U.S. senator, former secretary of state and former 2016 Democratic Party presidential nominee to our public school textbooks.

As the Texas Tribune reports: In response to a motion by board member Erika Beltran, D-Fort Worth, to reinsert Clinton into the standards, fellow board member Marty Rowley, R-Amarillo, referenced “tons of public comment” that he’d received before Tuesday’s meeting. “I don’t agree, obviously, with her politics,” Rowley said. “I just think she qualifies as significant.”

Do ya think?

Someone’s politics shouldn’t matter one damn bit when determining one’s significance to state or national history. I’m sure Rowley knows that. And, yeah, she “qualifies as significant.”

Indeed, Clinton and Keller both are hugely significant historical figures. So help me, I don’t understand why the SBOE considered dropping them in the first place.

It now appears the SBOE has come to its senses. I also want to offer a good word to Marty Rowley for responding to the “tons of public comment” that stood up for Hillary Clinton’s role as a historic American public figure.

Hey, didn’t Hillary make ‘history’ in 2016?

I swear I thought Hillary Rodham Clinton made “history” in 2016 when she became the first female to be nominated for president of the United States by a major political party.

She ran a tough race against Donald J. Trump, but lost the Electoral College vote to the 45th president of the United States.

But wait! The Texas State Board of Education — a body of 15 elected politicians who represent separate districts around the state — wants to remove any historical reference to Clinton from public school textbooks.

It also wants to remove any mention of Helen Keller, the social activist who became the first blind and deaf woman to earn a college degree.

I’m scratching my head over this stuff.

Is this the wave of the future in Texas? Are we doing to deny teaching our students about historical figures because they, um, might be unpopular or controversial?

Hillary Clinton also served for eight years as first lady of the United States. The was elected to the U.S. Senate from New York in 2000 and re-elected in 2006. She then served as secretary of state during President Obama’s first term.

First lady, senator, secretary of state? Then she became a Democratic Party presidential nominee?

That’s unworthy of study in public school curricula?

The SBOE decision is a tentative one. It can reverse itself in November when it casts a final vote.

I hope it does and returns these women of enormous accomplishment to the curricula to be studied by our public school students.

SBOE switches gears: They were ‘heroes’ at the Alamo after all

The Texas State Board of Education came to its senses, with a little push from Gov. Greg Abbott.

The SBOE had voted tentatively to remove the term “hero” from its description of the men who died at the Alamo in 1836. Hey, we all know that they died heroically while defending the mission against superior Mexican armed forces.

SBOE reverses course

The board of education, though, almost knuckled under to some form of “political correctness” by deciding they weren’t heroes after all. Abbott said the SBOE should resist such PC activity. Late this week, the 15-member elected board reversed itself and said the heroes at the Alamo will be labeled as such in Texas public school curricula.

I’m not a native Texan, but I certainly accepted the idea long ago that the men who died in the Alamo battle were heroes. That’s how we were taught in Oregon when I was growing up and studying these historic events.

I’m glad that the SBOE has declared what the rest of us knew already: Those men were heroes.

Yes, they were ‘heroes’ at The Alamo

What’s going on with the Texas State Board of Education?

The 15-member elected board had decided that the men who fought and died at The Alamo shouldn’t be called “heroic” in Texas textbooks that tells the story of the 1836 struggle.

Then the SBOE backed off. The men who died were heroes after all. Politicians from Gov. Greg Abbott on down had objected to the eliminating of the “heroic” description of the fight.

The Texas Tribune reported: The board has been streamlining curriculum standards for social studies for the past several months, with the aim of cutting back on the instructional time for teachers and allowing them to go into depth in their courses. The workgroup’s recommendations, submitted to the State Board of Education in April by a volunteer working group of area experts, called the term “value charged” and recommended its removal. They also struck out a reference to a letter Col. William B. Travis wrote just before the siege titled “To the People of Texas and All Americans in the World.”

I’m not a Texas native. My wife, sons and I got here as soon as we could. I grew up in Oregon and studied The Alamo battle back in the day, in junior high school and later in high school. By the time we moved to Texas in 1984 I was well aware of the “heroic” stature that the men had achieved when they fought against a huge military force of Mexican soldiers who laid siege to the mission.

C’mon, SBOE! Don’t mess with what we know to be true. Those men fought heroically. They died as heroes. Didn’t the Texians who took the fight to Mexico’s armed forces rally to the battle cry “Remember the Alamo”?

SBOE backs off

Part of the change seems to have something to do with the short shrift textbooks give to civil rights leaders. As the Tribune reports: Those in support of the workgroup’s initial proposal argued that using language like “heroic” for the defenders of the Alamo and minimizing the contribution of civil rights leaders whitewashes the history of Texas. “The curriculum standards that guide what we learn in our public school classrooms don’t teach enough and don’t teach the truth,” said Lamontria Edwards, a student at Paul Quinn College in Dallas.

Fair point. However, let’s be sure our texts also teach children of the heroism of our civil rights movement in addition to teaching them of the heroes who died at The Alamo.

SBOE runoff turns out OK after all


Just about the time I was ready to give up all hope of political sanity within the Texas Republican Party …

Those voters over yonder in the Piney Woods do something sensible. Who’d a thunk it?

Tuesday night, they rejected the candidacy of one Mary Lou Bruner to District 9 on the State Board of Education. Yep, the GOP runoff produced another winner, Keven Ellis of Lufkin, a member of the Lufkin school board.

Bruner had been favored to win. She finished first in the Republican primary in March and was considered a strong candidate in the runoff. Then came the torrent of criticism regarding many of the former kindergarten teacher’s social media posts.

The one that got the most attention has been her contention that President Obama subsidized his drug habit as a young college student by prostituting himself. My favorite, though, was the notion she posted about dinosaurs becoming extinct because the baby T-Rexes couldn’t survive after Noah’s Ark made landfall on Mount Ararat.

District 9 Republicans then began to give serious thought to the choices they had. Did they really want someone with that kind of outlook representing them on the board that determines public education policy in Texas?

I’m still not crazy about the notion of electing these board members. I still prefer that they be appointed, subjected to Texas Senate confirmation, and that they have a deep background in education.

A Republican runoff in one East Texas SBOE district shouldn’t be seen necessarily as a harbinger of a return to sanity in the state’s political process. The state GOP, which dominates the Texas political landscape to the point that it has all but eradicated Democrats’ viability, still is capable of enacting some highly restrictive public policies.

Still, Keven Ellis’s runoff victory in East Texas gives me some hope that reason and sanity still have a voice within the state Republican Party.

SBOE spared a candidate’s lunacy


It’s late in the day and I’m a bit tired.

So I won’t belabor the point.

The Texas State Board of Education has been spared the idiotic philosophy of one Mary Lou Bruner, who today lost her Republican Party runoff in District 9, an East Texas board of education district.

GOP voters today nominated a Lufkin chiropractor, Keven Ellis, to campaign this fall against the Democratic nominee.


The 15-member SBOE is a contentious enough body as it is. Bruner represented something out of a parallel universe.

She’s a former kindergarten teacher who said, among many other things, that President Barack Obama was worked as a gay prostitute to support a drug habit when he was a young man and that dinosaurs became extinct because the baby beasts couldn’t fend for themselves on Noah’s Ark.

Yes, this individual came dangerously close to helping determine public education curriculum for our state’s school children.

Wisdom prevailed today in East Texas.

I am grateful. Thank you, GOP voters.


Politicians muck up public education


I’ve lived in Texas for more than 32 years and have gotten quite accustomed the state’s penchant for electing people to so many public offices.

The Texas Constitution was set up as a document designed to decentralize power. I get it. Honest, I do.

But one elected body doesn’t need to be an elected body. I refer to the State Board of Education.

Fifteen individuals sit on that board, representing districts carved out of the state. They’re Texas residents who have varying degrees of expertise in public education, in curriculum, in all the issues affecting students and teachers.

But the upcoming Republican Party runoff election set to occur next week in East Texas reveals one of the hazards of this system of having politicians setting public education policy.

Mary Lou Bruner is running for a seat representing District 9. Her opponent is Keven Ellis, who by all rights should win. Bruner, though, is the favorite. She’s also an individual who has made some absolutely astounding public statements that make many of us question her fitness for the job.

She says the president of the Unites States once was a male prostitute; she says dinosaurs became extinct because the baby lizards couldn’t fend for themselves once Noah’s ark made land in Turkey. There’ve been other equally weird statements.

In reality, Bruner exemplifies just part of the problem with the SBOE. The other politicians on the board keep fighting among themselves over curriculum. Some folks want public schools to emphasize texts that rely on religious faith. Others disagree with that. The board once got into a serious battle over school fund investment policy.

What’s a credible alternative to electing these individuals?

Perhaps we could have the governor appoint them, selecting people from academia and/or from business. The state is full of qualified academic champions and business titans.

Have these folks stand for confirmation by the Texas Senate. Have them serve, say, six-year terms.

The state at one time used to appoint its state education board. The Legislature, though, returned the issue to the voters, asking them to decide on a constitutional amendment returning to an elected board. Texans voted “yes” and aren’t likely to give up that right.

But the state’s political structure seems to have flown off the rails, as we’re quite possibly going to see in East Texas if SBOE District 9 voters elect Mary Lou Bruner.

She shouldn’t be in a position to be taken seriously. However, the state’s extreme rightward lurch speaks — in my view — to the need to reform the Texas State Board of Education.