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New Dunbar Comments Highlight Extremism on Texas State Board of Education

Public Education, Religious Freedom, Obama Targeted in Radio Interview

New public comments from a Texas State Board of Education member make clear the need to bring academic experts back into the process of revising social studies curriculum standards for public schools, Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller said today.

"These outrageous statements are yet more evidence that the revision of curriculum standards has been hijacked by political ideologues who are more interested in promoting personal agendas than sound education policies that will help our children succeed," Miller said.

Miller was responding to comments state board member Cynthia Dunbar, R-Richmond, made in an interview last week on the far-right radio program The American View. During the interview, Dunbar suggested that the First Amendment does not protect the rights of nonreligious Americans, once again criticized public education, and repeated her charge that President Obama sympathizes with terrorists. Dunbar also attacked the faith of people who accept the science of evolution. (An archived recording of Dunbar's interview is available here.)

The state board made scores of changes to proposed new social studies curriculum standards in January and March. Dunbar, for example, succeeded in removing Thomas Jefferson, who championed separation of church and state, from a proposed world history standard on influential Enlightenment thinkers. She also led successful opposition to a proposed standard requiring students to learn how America’s Founders barred government from promoting or disfavoring any one religion over all others.

The board also moved to weaken standards on civil rights, suggested that Joseph McCarthy’s political witch hunts in the 1950s were justified, required students to study ideas in Confederate President Jefferson Davis’s inaugural address, censored instruction on historical figures – such as Dolores Huerta – because of political objections to their ideas, and promoted conservative icons such as Phyllis Schlafly and the Moral Majority.

Texas parents have every reason to be worried that the education of their children has been hijacked by political extremists on the state board, Miller said.

"The arrogance and intolerance of some of these state board members is almost breathtaking," Miller said. "Texas families want schools that make educating our kids a priority, not politicians who attack public education and even the faith of people who disagree with them."

Quotes from Cynthia Dunbar’s radio interview –

On the Founders and the First Amendment:

"They didn't want in any way religion to be chilled. They certainly didn't want to have any concern whatsoever for the, quote-unquote, nonreligious, which is the new standard that we know, as far as seeing what the Supreme Court in promoting secularism, ultimately by inhibiting any religious instruction."

On early America and public education:

"There was never a tax-supported public entity. It was community education where the parents and the families came together and coalesced for the benefit of educating their society, which is a good and positive thing." Then later, continuing about public education: "[James] Madison said error steeped in precedent leads to tyranny. When you allow something that was wrong to be repeated over and over and over, everybody accepts it as the norm, and it becomes the norm, and nobody even questions it. But once you allow something to become a tax-supported public entity, a governmental entity, you're absolutely right, there's no way it can not be political. And you just can't keep that out of the classroom."

On President Obama:

"There's no question that there's documentation that he in fact has sympathies with people like Bill Ayers and others that clearly we would call terroristic threats."

On people of faith who testified in support of teaching evolution during the debate over science curriculum standards last year:

"Most of the time when we would hear people stand up to speak, it would start out something like this: 'I am a person of faith, my faith defines me, HOWEVER.' And then they would start making distinctions as to how their world view doesn't impact every area of their life. Which in fact it does. What they don't realize is that they have bought into a secular ideology, a secular humanist belief system."

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The Texas Freedom Network is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization of community and faith leaders who support religious freedom, individual liberties and public education.

 

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