I thought Texas may buck the trend and put someone in charge of the Board of Education that cares about the state of our high school graduates and accuracy in the curriculum. This is why I am not paid to think about things like policy and politics, Rick Perry has nominated Gail Lowe as the new head of the board. And we’ve yet to hear a response from maybe the most powerful group of science standard bearers in the state, the university professors. I have sent three letters now to Texas A&M, UT, and Texas Tech science faculty and have yet to receive a response or an acknowledgment about what is going on, but it seems to be par for the course for the gatekeepers of science in our state. So who is Gail Lowe?
Looking at her track record on the board you can find that she stands for “traditional conservative values.” This includes making our schools family friendly (unless your family is homosexual, because we all know that isn’t a real family), censoring books about alternative lifestyles, and maybe my favorite…”she guarantees she will turn down any book encouraging population removal or blaming global warming on the normal activities of everyday people” (emphasis mine).
In 2004 Ms. Lowe opposed requiring that publishers obey curriculum standards and put medically accurate information about responsible pregnancy and disease prevention in new high school health textbooks.
In 2007 Ms. Lowe voted to throw out nearly three years of work by teacher writing teams on new language arts standards. Over the strenuous objections of teachers and curriculum specialists, Lowe instead voted for a standards document that the board’s far-right bloc patched together overnight and slipped under hotel doors the morning of the final vote.
In 2003 and 2009 Ms. Lowe supported dumbing down the state’s public school science curriculum by voting to include unscientific, creationist criticisms of evolution in science textbooks and curriculum standards.
And her conservative friends on the board just love her, here’s Terry Leo (R-Spring): “Philosophically I believe she is the most conservative SBOE member. We tease her, that if we are not voting with Gail we need to check our conservative compasses.”
And if didn’t seem things could get worse she has appointed David Barton to be her “expert” on social studies curriculum revision, yes the same David Barton who has called for the removal of Cesar Chavez from the history books. This doesn’t stink of political agenda in the least (sarcasm). Of course the old head, Don McElroy has thrown his support behind Barton, saying Barton’s bachelor’s of religious education gives him the “expertise” needed to define social curriculum standards.
She sounds like a perfect fit for this fucked up state. She keeps the good-ol-boy network in tact and manages to denounce the careers of thousands of scientists with a smile on her face, not bad for a day’s work.
Of course she wants to keep abstinence only education in our schools despite the evidence that abstinence only education does not lower the number of teens having sex but does correlate with higher pregnancy risk rates. She claims that most parents want this type of sex education in schools, but I don’t know where she got that number because I sure can’t find it.
So this is all more of the same, a convenient side shuffle to keep the hounds at bay while putting another politically minded theocrat into the position of head state educator.
What’s even more amazing to me is the composition of the board and how most of them are not remotely qualified to be serving on an education forum.
Gail Lowe-biweekly newspaper editor; Barbara Cargill-elementary teacher; Lawrence Allen Jr-principle/special educator; Terri Leo-former teacher (professional republican party whore according to her website); Ken Mercer-businessman; Geraldine Miller-real estate broker; David Bradley-insurance and real estate; Rick Agosto-financial sales and marketing firm CEO; Cynthia Dunbar-lawyer (now teaching A&P to high schoolers and easily the craziest fuck on this board); Rene Nunez-real estate broker; Bob Craig-attorney; Mavis Knight-can’t figure it out, sounds like she served on every PTA board in the state; Mary Berlanga-attorney; Patricia Hardy-educator (what the fuck does that mean exactly?); Don McElroy-dentist and professional idiot.
So there are officially 5 people with education experience on a board of 15 who are supposed to be experts on education and how to implement curriculum. Doesn’t this seem a little screwed up to anyone else? Next time you go to the doctor ask if you can get a consult with a plumber about your constipation because apparently qualifications don’t matter. And the sad thing is we elected these people! Every damn one of them!
It is unfortunate that our kids are going to be put through the political wringer for their education, we will reap what we sow and Texas kids may find themselves at a disadvantage (good thing we have a lot of professional schools in the state).
My heart hurts for my home state, I stood on the Sears tower yesterday and looked south wondering when the insurrection against this sort of crap would come to fruition. Unfortunately it’s never going to happen, the political will of the right is so strong and has such a strong grasp on the voters that there is little to no recourse because it just takes an endorsement from a political candidate to get yourself elected to this board.
I just sent out another email to the university professors of the state and I am sure I will again be ignored, but I know that some of these guys want to stand up and say something. Too bad the political climate may cause career suicide if you stand up for the work you’ve committed your life to. I hope to never be a sheep.