School boards can pick curriculum
July 9, 2010 at 2:09 a.m.
Although there has been widespread condemnation of the Texas State Board of Education for rewriting history and subjecting Texans to a host of ridicule, ultimately it is your school board, whether it be the Victoria, Nursery or Bloomington ISD that has the responsibility under the Texas Education Code (Section 31) to decide our children's instructional materials.
The Texas Association of School Boards is accepting resolutions to guide the policy for our 1,235 school boards for its upcoming September Annual Meeting.
Aside from local text selection, the boards could form their own statewide textbook selection committee choosing members who both have the requisite graduate degree in the relevant field and who assert they have no political agenda.
So far, only one district has addressed this, but hopefully the school boards of Victoria County will co-sponsor us.
Our district, which did take action, is not part of a large metro, minority or "liberal" area. Aransas County school district, 60 miles southwest of Victoria, serves 26,500 mostly conservative and Republican constituents.
"Making waves" in this reserved coastal community is generally done by dolphins that swim by our inlets and pelicans splashing for fish.
As a parent, attorney and school board member, I introduced the following: "TASB strongly condemns The Texas State Board of Education for injecting politics, whether it be liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, into curriculum selection. Utilizing recognized experts, the SBOE should adopt a formal and politically neutral curriculum selection process."
Board member Bill Rivera stated the most common objection to my resolution. "There will always be politics, you can't stop it."
This awoke my 17-year-old son, Huey, who during the indolent days between his May graduation and his start at the University of Texas is often still asleep at board-meeting time. Huey explained that it's not just some politics, but a wholesale revision. With 4.8 million Texas school children, the cost of textbook changes every time a fringe group gets control of our educational system would be prohibitive.
It also violates the spirit of the State Board of Education's constitutional duty (Texas Constitution, Art. 7 Sec. 3B) to provide free books for our children.
Gone are the days of state budget surpluses, and one way or another, any new materials, would not be free.
Board member Sara Walvoord, a retired Corpus Christi teacher, had this question: "We are sending the state board a message, but Steve do you really want to smack them over the head with this 'strongly condemns' language?"
With former Principal James Piper nodding approval and remembering teacher-principal confrontations from my past, I did what almost every child confronted by authority does; I lied, and accepted the watered-down language.
Alas, the winds of change in Rockport will never match even the softest ocean breeze, but some district had to take the lead.
The Liberty Foundation, upon hearing what we were about to do, sent an Austin lobbyist to dissuade us, but he must have gotten lost in Rockport traffic and arrived an hour after the vote.
On this issue, one person can make a difference. Call your local school board member to place this on their agenda.
For Texas to prosper, attract people and to insure the best for our children, we don't need liberal schools; we don't need conservative schools; we just need great schools.
Rockport Attorney Steve Fischer is a member of the Aransas County Independent School District Board of Trustees. Fischer is a former college professor and Ex- Willacy County District Attorney. He can be reached at Fish2026@aol.com.