The State Board of Education, an elected body with a history of fierce ideological debates about textbook content, now wants to put its stamp on the curriculum that guides the instruction of 4.4 million Texas schoolchildren.
At its meeting Thursday, the 15-member board is expected to scrap a curriculum revision process dominated by teachers and the Texas Education Agency and discuss a new timetable for revising the English reading and writing standards.Many on the board want to replace a student-centered curriculum that calls on students to use their own attitudes and ethics to interpret texts with teacher-centered instruction that emphasizes the basics of spelling, grammar and punctuation.
It was a fight social conservatives on the board lost in 1997, when moderates and liberals adopted the curriculum for all subjects. Now, with social conservatives expected to have a majority on the board for the first time after the November elections, the plan to rewrite the English standards is viewed by some as the opening shot in an effort to put a conservative imprint on the state's curriculum.
"This is really going to be the big battle in public education over the next few years — what is it our students are going to learn," said Dan Quinn, a spokesman for the Texas Freedom Network, a group that monitors the state board for influence by the religious right. "We could see a lot of textbooks that are based on personal and political beliefs of a majority of the state board rather than on facts that students need to learn."
And as Stephen Colbert has pointed out, the facts have a well-known liberal bias.
There's a lot more to the article linked above, much of the rest presented as mitigating the dangers of allowing the John Birch Society to write public school curricula, but the truth is this process has been well under way for over a decade.
The Republicans will continue to claim, as they did when they gerrymandered Congressional districts into the shape of fajita strips to ensure a GOP takeover, that this is 'the will of the people' -- or at least of those in Texas who can be bothered to vote.
I think there is a different will of the people, ready and impatiently waiting to be expressed at the polls, that may change their thinking.