Voices Empower

Kate Alexander’s Laughable Confusion

By Donna Garner

Good old Kate Alexander of the Austin American-Statesman always tries to raise a ruckus where there is not one. However, her article in the AAS today is laughable. 

In trying to cut down Gov. Perry, Kate includes a quote from Clayton Williams that is meant to be damaging to Gov. Perry and also to the conservative leaders of the Texas State Board of Education; but instead, the quote is hilarious because it is so out of alignment with the present economic status of Texas’ healthy economy.

Next, Kate tries to inject another point of criticism at Gov. Perry but in so doing accidentally publicizes the fact that “creationism” and “Intelligent Design” are terms that are not found in Texas’ new Science standards.  Ironically it is Kate and her newspaper that led the charge against the SBOE conservatives by accusing them of producing right-wing Science standards.  What our Science TEKS actually say is that teachers and students in Texas should feel free to study and discuss the various sides of leading scientific theories.  Even the ACLU has not found fault with this requirement.  

Kate is still trying to beat up the conservative leaders of the Texas State Board of Education who managed, in spite of her insidious vilification and personal attacks, to adopt the most fact-based and patriotic Social Studies Standards (TEKS) in the entire United States (May 2010).  As one renowned history expert stated, “…they’re extremely balanced, extremely fair, and extremely thorough.”  

[To read details about the passage of the new Texas Social Studies TEKS, please  go to my article (5.22.10) entitled “Journaling the Texas State Board of Education’s Victory” 

Texas’ new English / Language Arts / Reading (ELAR) standards (passed in May 2008) are excellent. The first English / Language Arts textbooks based upon these new standards are making their way into our Texas schools as we speak; and experienced English teachers have said that they have never seen any better books that teach students explicit and comprehensive grammar, usage, correct spelling, and the skills students will need to become accomplished writers and researchers. 

Texas’ Science standards (passed in March 2009) are one-of-a-kind because the majority of the SBOE members managed to keep global warming from permeating our Texas public school standards.  

When Kate Alexander and the other liberal news media types bring up our new Texas curriculum requirements and try to reignite the firestorm that the state and national media stirred up during the heated SBOE debates, it is my pleasure to refer the public to two important resources and one insightful quote: 

(1) First is an article published by Investors Business Daily on 4.5.10 entitled “A Complete List of Bad Things Attributed to Global Warming” —  

(2)  Second is the list of over 700 well-known scientists who signed “A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism”  — 

(3)  Third is a quote from Will Lutz who wrote the following insightful statement in the last issue of  The  Lone Star Report (9.1.11):

Next, I greatly appreciate the conservative members of the Texas State Board of Education and their families who serve countless hours and endure unfair criticism.

They stood for high standards and real accountability — even when it was politically risky to do so.  They ensured our history curriculum teaches the truth that America is a beacon of freedom and hope worldwide. 

Nothing upsets me more than listening to politicians give lip service to traditional values in their campaigns, and then trying to neuter the conservatives on the State Board of Education behind-the-scenes in Austin. 


Perry’s social agenda is sometimes at odds with Texas business  

By Kate Alexander

Business leaders who write big checks to Gov. Rick Perry have often been given the opportunity to bend Perry’s ear, but that doesn’t mean the governor always listens.

Clayton Williams Jr. , the 1990 GOP gubernatorial nominee who hosted a presidential campaign fundraiser for Perry on Thursday, wrote the governor in 2008 with concerns about the State Board of Education’s coming debate over science curriculum standards.

The Midland oilman warned Perry that a big public fight over the teaching of creationism or intelligent design in Texas classrooms would be detrimental to the state’s business reputation, according to a letter obtained by the American-Statesman under the state’s open records law.

“If Texas enters into a debate on the teaching of fundamental religious beliefs in public schools, it will tarnish our strong academic reputation, set our ability to attract top science and engineering talent to Texas back decades and severely impact our reputation as a national and global leader in energy, space, medicine and other high-tech fields,” wrote Williams, who has given Perry’s gubernatorial campaigns more than $165,000 over the past decade.

“Governor, this is a very important issue for Texas. I urge you to quell this issue quietly, firmly and permanently.”

A year later, the board engaged in just the kind of high-profile cultural battle over the teaching of evolution that Williams had predicted. It garnered national headlines as board Chairman Don McLeroy declared that “someone has to stand up to the experts.”

Perry did not get publicly involved and passed up an opportunity in 2009 to replace McLeroy as chairman, who was leading the conservative charge.

Perry’s passive approach apparently didn’t bother Williams too much; he wrote two $25,000 checks to the governor’s campaign after penning the 2008 letter, in addition to hosting Thursday’s fundraiser.

For many business leaders, it was Perry’s job-creation message that drew their interest as the governor entered the presidential race in August. His announcement speech was almost entirely focused on the economy and jobs.

But during Perry’s early days on the campaign trail, he has been talking a lot about issues that appeal to socially conservative voters.

Two weeks ago, Perry made his position on evolution clear during a presidential campaign spin through New Hampshire.

He told a young boy that the theory of evolution has some gaps in it so in Texas, “we teach both creationism and evolution in our public schools — because I figure you’re smart enough to figure out which one is right,” Perry said.

Politifact Texas ruled Perry’s statement was false because creationism was not included in the science standards approved by the State Board of Education in 2009.

Perry has also said he does not think climate change is caused by human activity.

One of Perry’s rivals for the GOP presidential nomination, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, was quick to distinguish himself from Perry on the issue of science.

“To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy,” Huntsman wrote in a Twitter post shortly after Perry’s creationism comments swept through the Internet.

Kathleen Parker , a conservative syndicated columnist, wrote last week that such views would make it difficult for Perry to win a general election.

“That we are yet again debating evolutionary theory and Earth’s origins — and that candidates now have to declare where they stand on established science — should be a signal that we are slip-sliding toward governance by emotion rather than reason,” Parker wrote last week.

Mark Jones , a political science professor at Rice University , said the business leaders who are key to Perry’s fund-raising operation understand that Perry must secure the support of social conservatives to knock U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota out of the race.

“The principal tension it creates is the extent that the business community believes he is doing this for electoral purposes versus ideological purposes,” Jones said.

Perry has taken other policy stances that some prominent Texas business leaders have opposed, such as his support for immigration-related legislation that would have banned so-called sanctuary cities.

One of the governor’s top donors, Houston homebuilder Bob Perry , pushed to stop the legislation. It didn’t pass, even though Republicans in the House and Senate said they supported it and Gov. Perry, no relation to Bob Perry, declared the measure a legislative emergency.

Jones said the fate of the sanctuary cities bill demonstrated Perry’s ability to appeal to various GOP factions while not alienating anyone.

Perry made a show of publicly pushing the sanctuary cities measure and won points with the voters concerned about immigration, Jones said, but he didn’t spend any political capital to get it passed.


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