Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Texas Education Board’s Latest Lunacy

According to Agape Press, the Texas State Board of Education has severed its ties to the National Association of State School Boards because its policies, in their view, “continue to gravitate to liberal left.”

Last week, the Texas State Board of Education voted 10-5 to remove itself from membership in the National Association of State School Boards, or NASBE. The motion was put forth by board member Terri Leo of Spring, Texas. She believes many of NASBE’s policies are out of touch with mainstream America.

For example, says Leo, NASBE holds to the notion that the phrase “separation of church and state” accurately summarizes the Bill of Rights — even though the phrase does not appear in any founding American document and was used by Thomas Jefferson 11 years after the Bill of Rights was passed. Leo says the Texas Board of Education voted not be associated with an organization that chooses to perpetuate a myth.


This no doubt coming from their indoctrination in the work of David Barton, vice chair of the Texas Republican Party and the purveyor of an enormous number of myths about the founding fathers. Barton is a pseudo-historian whose work is so shoddy that he has been slammed even by his fellow Baptists. But that’s not the only reason for the separation:

In addition, Leo says she and her nine Republican colleagues oppose NASBE’s effort to encourage state boards to implement a bullying policy that has a special victim category for homosexuals.

Of course. God forbid that schools should protect kids from bullying. Anyone who’s been around schools for long, as I have, knows that casting aspersions on someone’s sexuality is among the most common forms of bullying, and the word “faggot” is used nearly as often in junior highs and high schools as “hello” and “goodbye”. Only a fool would deny that there are many kids who are harrassed and bullied because they are, or are presumed to be, homosexual. And given that, only the morally vacuous would think that schools should not do what they can to discourage such harrassment.

Citing a third policy area of disagreement, Leo notes that NASBE supports comprehensive sex education — while state law in Texas advocates abstinence-only sex education. On top of that, she says, “the Republicans on this board and the majority of Texans support” that law.

The Republicans on that board and the majority of Texans seem blissfully unaware of the fact that their policies have only worsened the situation. Only 5 states in the nation have a teen pregnancy rate above 10%. Guess what state is among them? Yep. Texas. Teen pregnancy has gone down nationally every year for the last 15 years, but guess which state has had the smallest decline? You guessed it – Texas. And guess which state just ordered health textbooks that contain no mention whatsoever of contraception? Texas again, led by this same school board full of halfwits. Meanwhile, nations with truly comprehensive sex education programs including free contraception have rates of teen pregnancy far lower than ours. Even with 15 years of continuous decline in teen pregnancy, the US still has rates more than double that of any European nation, and a full 7 times higher than the Netherlands.

Comments

  1. #1 Matthew
    November 27, 2005

    Well their goal is not to reduce teen pregnancy or venereal diseases, their goal is to reduce premarital sex. So if abstinence-only education leads to 5% less premarital sex than comprehensive sex education, but 5% more of the “bad stuff” it’s still a success.

  2. #2 Mike P
    November 27, 2005

    I have two thoughts. The Texas school board is the one that is not in the mainstream, so leaving the NASBE may be appropriate for them.

    The data on teen pregnancy is quite interesting. Did you to research that before you wrote the entry or had you already been aware of it. Many of your blog entries are quite studded with facts. This blog is not just about ranting opinions.

  3. #3 Ed
    November 27, 2005

    I’ll have to check, but I don’t think this news has hit any of the Texas news outlets yet.

    There is a message in the fact that the Texas State School Board speaks first to national right-wing-Baptist reporters before telling the people of Texas what they’re doing.

    Of what is Ms. Leo so ashamed?

  4. #4 Ed Brayton
    November 27, 2005

    Mike P wrote:

    The data on teen pregnancy is quite interesting. Did you to research that before you wrote the entry or had you already been aware of it. Many of your blog entries are quite studded with facts. This blog is not just about ranting opinions.

    I’ve written about this issue quite a bit and have documented those statistics elsewhere in previous essays. If you do a search on “teen pregnancy”, you’ll find several essays that address the subject with links to where those stats came from. Call it intellectual recycling.

  5. #5 spyder
    November 27, 2005

    I suppose next up will be a complete restructuring of Texas school curricula, followed by the obligatory rewriting of most of the major publishing companies’ school textbooks and materials. The old story of ” so goes texas, so follows most of the rest of the US” will take on new meaning, when it comes to biology books for science classes and Barton like US history texts. I feel bad for the universities and colleges in Texas that will have to attempt to accept public school graduates that could be so poorly educated.

    Hell, maybe Texas too will start pulling up blue laws all over the place.

  6. #6 Jeff Hebert
    November 27, 2005

    We have GREAT tacos though. And at this rate, we’ll have a state full of youths whose education has exquisitely prepared them for nothing but serving those tacos to the people in other states with GOOD educations.

    Jeff in Texas (and to think I moved here from Louisiana to get away from this kind of crap)

  7. #7 Hyperion
    November 27, 2005

    Y’know, at one point Texas did try to secede from this country. I know it’s been almost a century and a half, but is it too late to renegotiate?

  8. #8 raj
    November 28, 2005

    According to Agape Press, the Texas State Board of Education has severed its ties to the National Association of State School Boards because its policies, in their view, “continue to gravitate to liberal left.”

    If Texas wants to insulate themselves from “modernity” maybe “moderns” should isolate themselves from TX’s view of modernity. Graduates of TX high schools and TX public colleges might find it difficult to find work elsewhere, notwithstanding the contributions of people like Brian Leiter and Steven Weinberg.

    I would suggest that the US give Texas back to Mexico, but I doubt that the Mexicans would want them back.

  9. #9 Chris
    November 29, 2005

    I should not be surprised at all by any of this, and yet, with 5 school-aged kids in TX schools it makes me queasy! The TX academic guidelines for 1st grade are impossibly hard, and for high school are impossibly easy. TX has its education upside down and backward! (… so I pulled my 1st graders, twins, out of school to give them a much better education at home). To think we have to home school kids to avoid the right-wing bias in the schools, let alone the flat incompetence shown in their curriculum. What a mess.

The site is currently under maintenance and will be back shortly. New comments have been disabled during this time, please check back soon.