TFN President Expresses Concerns About Continuing Problems at State Board of Education
Chairwoman's Divisive Comments, Limits for Public Input on Science Adoption Raise Alarms over Direction of SBOE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 19, 2011
With the State Board of Education set to adopt new science instructional materials for Texas public schools this week, Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller is expressing concerns that the new board chair is putting personal politics ahead of educating the public school students.
Board Chairwoman Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, questioned the faith of board colleagues when she told a Texas Eagle Forum audience on July 7 that there are only six "true conservative Christians" on the board. That divisive comment drew criticism from fellow board members, including Republicans. During the same event, Cargill also suggested she and the other five so-called "true conservative Christians" would insist that publishers revise their proposed science instructional materials to include anti-evolution arguments promoted by proponents of "intelligent design"/creationism. Those arguments are not supported by mainstream scientific research. (See videos below)
Then last week Cargill decided to limit public testimony for the only public hearing on the proposed new science materials to just four hours, regardless of how many people sign up to testify. Past adoption processes have typically included at least two and sometimes three such hearings. These science materials could be used in public school classrooms for nearly a decade.
TFN's Kathy Miller noted that Cargill's two immediate predecessors as board chair, Don McLeroy and Gail Lowe, failed to win Senate confirmation because they repeatedly put their personal and political agendas ahead of the strong recommendations of teachers and scholars on curriculum and textbook adoptions. Miller said:
"Unfortunately, hopes that the new chair might focus the board on ensuring that Texas kids get a sound education have almost evaporated just two weeks after her appointment by Gov. Perry. Ms. Cargill appears to be just as determined as her two predecessors to promote divisive 'culture war' battles on the state board and in our children's classrooms. And her decision to dramatically limit public testimony this week demonstrates a stunning disregard for the concerns of parents and other citizens who want students to get a science education that truly prepares them to succeed in college and a 21st-century economy."
The board is scheduled to hear public testimony on the proposed science materials on Thursday and then vote Friday on which materials to adopt. Adopted materials will be available for use in science classrooms beginning this school year.
The Texas Freedom Network is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization of religious and community leaders who support public education, religious freedom and individual liberties.