Voices Empower
 

Texas’ Public School Students in Peril

By Donna Garner

Photo Courtesy of KETA

As it stands now, HB 6 passed out of the Senate last night (5.24.11).  Several of the most important amendments were offered by Sen. Dan Patrick and were stripped off HB 6 or were changed. 

 The twelve Democrats refused to vote for the final passage unless the provision against “national curriculum” was stripped and unless the wording on the SBOE amendments was changed to take authority away from our elected Texas State Board of Education members.

These very important amendments must be added back to HB 6. 

(1) The prohibition against a national curriculum:  We most certainly do not want our Texas public school classrooms shackled to Obama’s social justice agenda through national standards, national curriculum, national tests, national teacher evaluation system, and a national database. 

(2) The restoration to our elected State Board of Education members of the authority to review and remove textbooks (i.e., instructional materials) from the commissioner’s list:  The well-developed textbook adoption process that involves public hearings, public scrutiny, and SBOE members’ good judgment have served Texas well.  SBOE members have made sure the textbooks follow the adopted curriculum standards.  Hundreds of factual errors have been found in textbooks because of Texas’ textbook adoption process, and fines by publishers have been levied when the errors have not been corrected. 

(3) The restoration of the power to our elected State Board of Education members of the authority to remove or approve open source materials:  Open source materials can now be submitted by universities and could be written by liberal college professors.  We do not want our public school children to use instructional materials produced by liberal college professors without first giving our elected SBOE members the authority to scrutinize those materials and remove or approve them. 

Right now, the Senate is waiting on the House either to concur with the Senate amendments or not to concur.  If the House chooses not to concur, then a conference committee will be appointed.  If the House does concur with the Senate amendments, then HB 6 will go straight to Gov. Perry’s desk.  

Just to make sure Sen. Florence Shapiro and Rep. Rob Eissler (chairs of the Senate and Education Committees) know how strongly grassroots citizens feel, I believe it would be a good idea for us to contact them.  Then if and when a conference committee is called, these two education chairs can tell the other committee members about the outpouring of support for the above-mentioned amendments to be added back to HB 6.   

Sen. Florence Shapiro — FLORENCE.SHAPIRO@SENATE.STATE.TX.US — (512) 463-0108

 

Rep. Rob Eissler — ROB.EISSLER@HOUSE.STATE.TX.US — (512) 463-0797

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5.25.11  — Jonathan Saenz of Liberty Institute has followed HB 6 very carefully.  Here is his feedback:  

Friends, we are involved in supporting critical amendment(s) to HB 6, and the elected SBOE could benefit from your help.  We’ll know more in the next day or so about what our options are and who to contact/specific action items, so stay tuned.

Here’s what we know now. HB 6 needs to go to conference committee and have SBOE protection amendments approved.  Rep. Eissler does not intend to concur with the Senate; he is expected to request a conference committee. 

Going to conference committee allows members to restore SBOE approval/removal power on all textbooks and materials and to have oversight of “open source” electronic textbooks/materials that could be pushed into public school classrooms with no veto power by the Texas Education Agency, by the Education Commissioner, or by the elected SBOE.  Rep. Eissler and Sen. Shapiro are both in support of these changes. 

 There is currently no real oversight of open-source textbooks/materials (result of 2009 law). These materials are fast-tracked into our public school classroom if certain university faculty members “self-certify” these instructional materials, with no veto/removal power by our elected SBOE.

 The House version of HB 6 has a good SBOE amendment (Hancock amendment), restoring the SBOE’s authority to remove instructional materials on the “commissioner’s list” (change in law occurred in 2009).  

The Senate version does not have this amendment, as the Senate version only allows elected SBOE to “review and comment” on commissioner’s list (which is already current law) and the “open source list.”  Senate Democrats blocked the stronger version of these amendments, and they were removed so that HB 6 could be allowed to move forward.  An amendment preventing national standards from infiltrating Texas also had to be removed.

In conference committee, we need the conference committee members to restore the elected SBOE’s adoption authority over these textbooks/materials and prevent national standards.

We support HB 6 going to conference committee and support including in HB 6 the following:

 (1) Elected SBOE authority to remove instructional materials from the commissioner’s list, within 90 days after placement on list.

 

(2) Elected SBOE authority to remove/approve instructional “open source” materials and/or electronic textbooks from any list, within 90 days of submission.

 

(3) Rejection of national curriculum standards being used in Texas schools.

 

 

When the House and Senate conference committee members are announced, we are going to make a major push with our supporters to contact their elected officials/conferees and support the three items listed above.  We hope, at that point, you can do the same with your contacts.

 

Will update you when I know more. 

Remember, the elected SBOE saved the teaching of Christmas, the Liberty Bell, rejected propping up socialists as models for students, and defending the teaching of our Founding Fathers, the Constitution and American Exceptionalism for K-12.

 

Thanks!

 Visit my Texas Legislative Update Blog at http://texaslegislativeupdate.wordpress.com/

 

Jonathan M. Saenz, Esq.

Director of Legislative Affairs & Attorney

Liberty Institute

www.libertyinstitute.org  

 

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