Time to Put College and Workforce Readiness Ahead of Politics in Curriculum Standards
Legislation's Higher Ed Review Teams Would Ensure Expertise, Sound Scholarship Guide Curriculum Revision Process
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 13, 2011
Public education advocates today spoke out in support of proposed legislation that would put college and workforce readiness ahead of politics when the State Board of Education (SBOE) adopts curriculum standards for the nearly 5 million students in Texas public schools.
"Especially in the middle of a budget crisis, taxpayers have a right to expect that the textbooks they're paying for are based on curriculum standards that will prepare our schoolchildren for college and the workforce," Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller said. "This legislation helps ensure that what our schoolchildren learn in their classrooms is supported by facts and sound scholarship, not just the political beliefs of state board members."
The House and Senate Higher Education Committees today are considering two bills that address the adoption of curriculum standards by the state board, SB 1348 by state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, and HB 3263 by state Rep. Mark Strama, D-Austin. The two bills call for the establishment of higher education review teams to advise the board on whether curriculum standards, before final board approval, are factually accurate and would serve to prepare students for college-level work. The bills also establish minimum qualification standards for review team members.
"Real expertise should not be pushed aside by politics in the curriculum revision process," Sen. Van de Putte said. "It's just common sense that scholars review for accuracy the hundreds of changes board members typically make to curriculum standards before those standards get final approval. After all, those standards will guide what an entire generation of Texas students learns in the classroom."
In past curriculum adoptions, SBOE members appointed as "expert" advisers individuals whose primary qualifications were their political and ideological beliefs rather than relevant academic or professional expertise. The proposed bills establish a blind scoring system for ranking nominees to the new review panels, which will help ensure that panelists are chosen because they are truly qualified, not because of their political beliefs, Rep. Strama said.
"This Legislation won't remove the elected SBOE's authority over curriculum standards, but it will help insulate our children's classrooms from politics and personal agendas," Rep. Strama said. "Parents want to know that the content of instruction in our public schools meets the highest standards of academic integrity and objectively."
A 2010 statewide poll showed that 72 percent of likely voters in Texas want teachers and scholars, not the State Board of Education, writing curriculum standards and textbook requirements. The poll, conducted for the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund by the national firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, is available at www.tfn.org/2010poll.
The Texas Freedom Network is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization of religious and community leaders who support public education, religious freedom and individual liberties.