The Texas State Board of Education’s shocking action Friday (May 23, 2008) in adopting new standards for K-12 English/Language Arts & Reading is being viewed by some as a harbinger of things to come for the new science standards, which are the next to be revised.
After receiving a draft developed with input from English Language Arts and Reading teachers, the Board was forced to vote on a substitute document, almost 100 pages, that was slipped under their hotel room doors an hour before the meeting.
Reporting for the San Antonio Express-News, Gary Scharrer reports that
A three-year effort to rewrite English language arts and reading standards for the state’s public schools came down to a last-minute cut-and-paste job Friday.
On dallasnews.com, the AP reports and quotes:
“I find it’s really wild that we can work for three years on a project and then the board is so qualified they can pull it out of their hat overnight,” said board member Pat Hardy, a Fort Worth Republican who, like other board members, received the substituted document when it was slipped under her hotel door less than an hour before their meeting was set to convene Friday morning.
Some social conservatives on the board prepared the latest version overnight.
“I’m appalled by the process that we’ve taken part in,” said board member Bob Craig, a Republican from Lubbock. There’s been “no opportunity to review it, no teacher group is involved, not even the (Texas Education Agency) staff was involved or had seen it.”
From R.A. Dyer, for the Star-Telegram in Fort Worth:
The curriculum decision is important because it will affect the teaching of reading, writing and grammar in kindergarten through 12th grade as well as the content of the state’s high-stakes standardized tests.
But the process has been anything but smooth, with board factions complaining that they had little time to review the technical proposals or that they were being railroaded by their opponents.
On Friday, for instance, many members complained that the nearly 100-page document had been distributed to them just before the meeting.
“How am I supposed to vote on a document when I’ve had it in my hands for slightly over an hour?” asked board member Mary Helen Berlanga, D-Corpus Christi.
The State Board of Education’s confused, divisive and needlessly prolonged process for adopting new language arts curriculum standards has exposed how dysfunctional the education panel has become under the chairmanship of Don McLeroy, Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller said today.
“The state board is split between members who respect the opinions of teachers and education experts and, on the other side, Chairman McLeroy and other members who clearly don’t,” Miller said. “So this board is increasingly unable to complete tasks with efficiency and a respect for informed debate and expert opinion. This is not how you develop smart education policies.”
This action shows that the Right-Wing school board majority is not above doing anything they can — without regard for either fairness or for competence — to get whatever outcomes they’re committed to. That’s unfortunate for the English and literacy education of Texas students.
As for science, however, I think this incident means that those supporting science education will be prepared to preempt or counter tactics and strategies that they might otherwise have thought to be beyond the capacity for malfeasance of even this board majority.