Have you ever paid attention to who is running for the State Board of Education? I haven’t. Like many people who will be voting this November, I have voted for my choice of governor, and continued my votes along party lines. However, since I learned of certain changes proposed for the Texas Education system, I am doing my research and paying close attention to the candidates up for election this November. I firmly believe that we, as Texans, need to pay closer attention to the individuals who might be given positions of power, and how each candidate would utilize that position.
According to the Monday, September 13, 2010 edition of the Houston Chronicle, there were several amendments that were approved specifically to weaken the theory of evolution last year. This year, several amendments have been proposed such as removing labor leader Cesar Chavez and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall from the history books. In addition, the proposition to emphasize the separation of church and state failed because “the board majority argued that doing so would be incongruent with the Founding Fathers’ intentions.” The candidates up for election this year will be voting on how to navigate the sensitive subject of sex education, among other things.
How is this Politicizing our Education?
Why would a group of people want to remove any historic figure from a history book? Why Cesar Chavez and Thurgood Marshall? Cesar Chavez was a civil rights activist and farm worker. He founded the National Farm Workers Association and was an advocate for the civil rights for Hispanic people. Why, then, would the board want to remove him from the books? Perhaps it has to do with the harsh stance Republicans have taken against labor, unions, and immigrants (legal or illegal) in this country. Thurgood Marshall was the first African American to serve on the Supreme Court. His arguments were paramount in the very historic Brown v. Board of Education case. How, then could anyone suggest this man, a member of the United States government for over 20 years, be removed from a history book? Perhaps again, it has to do with the fact that Marshall was a champion of civil rights, abortion rights, and labor unions, all of which the Republican party vehemently oppose, or at the very least, want to de-emphasize?
I am not here to present my opinions on the beliefs of Cesar Chavez and Thurgood Marshall. I am trying to point out that these men have made a huge impact on American history, and there is no reason to remove them from any books. Luckily, their removal was not approved, but who is to say how else the Republican agenda will influence education in Texas? As stated before, the board approved the weakening of the theory of evolution in the history books and the de-emphasizing the essential idea of separation of church and state. How will next year’s issue of sex education be approached? Will it be approached from a scientific point of view or a religious one? With the current board’s record of downplaying the science, I am not too optimistic.
What can the voter do?
Texan voters need to take to the polls on November 2nd! The future of Texas education affects everyone in the state. We teach in the system, have children in the system, or will at some point. Therefore, it is important that we get to know our candidates for the Texas Board of Education and how each one will influence it. In addition, we need to hold the board accountable for their actions. According to the Houston Chronicle, critics of the current board have complained that the members have routinely “ignored recommendations of teachers and experts appointed by members to help develop new curriculum standards.” Let’s use the power of our votes to ensure the integrity of our children’s education!
Gary Scharrer. “Interest in school contests fired up.” www.chron.com