21 May 2010

Texas Textbook Massacre - The Good Guys Fight Back

Perhaps we Texans deserve what we get.

OK, I don't really believe that, but one just has to wonder when, year-after-year-after-year, we suffer through the repeated guffaws of a world looking at us askance: A governor who dances a jig of joy over the execution of a female death row inmate; who, by the way, is the same dry-drunk sociopath who told all humanity that "Rarely is asked, is our children learning?", a dunce-cap wearing governor who spouts 19th century secession foolishness, congressional representatives better suited for clown-alley than the hallowed halls of congress, and the Astros.  No wonder we've become the butt of some really bad jokes!

If all that were not enough, we are now subjected to finger-pointing, snickering side-glances, and outright hoo-hawing over our latest school textbook controversy.  Now, except for maybe the Astros, we are in a position to take back our rightful place among humanity and turn back the arrant silliness which is the source of so many bad jokes aimed in our direction.

We can do something about this textbook lash-up.  Yes, we know we're fighting a state board of education operating on a far-right agenda of reactionary conservatism led by Imam-like apostles of base fundamentalist Christianity.  Yes, all that is true and presents a very dreary outlook for education in Texas.

But as disheartening and futile as it all seems, and despite the awful sense of loneliness, and horrid feeling of foreboding that we might be among the few sane people left, there others out there who have courageously engaged the battle and are fighting to set things right.

One such person is Rebecca Bell-Metereau who is running against right-wing extremist, Ken Mercer, (profiled yesterday) for SBOE District 5 seat.

This, from her website:

"Our state is languishing near the bottom in high-school graduation, and our State Board of Education isn’t helping. Instead of being leaders in improving public education, they’re busy tearing it down. Their record of mismanagement includes dumbed-down textbooks, a public endowment placed in the care of cronies, and a curriculum that intrudes on private matters of belief. Enough is enough!

As a mother of two graduates of Texas public schools and a long-time educator at Texas State University, I want to take our public schools back. Texas students need to learn the most advanced science, technology, literature, and social studies.

The more we learn about what is happening on the Board, the more we see the urgent need for change. Please help me to ensure a better education for future generations and fiscal responsibility for our tax dollars." 

Another deserving of our favorable attention is Judy Jennings who is facing right-wing religionist and erstwhile Joe McCarthy groupie, Cynthia Dunbar (profiled yesterday) for the SBOE District 10 seat.

At her website she states:

“Sometimes people ask me why I’m spending so much energy running for an unpaid position on a highly contentious board.  I think of my grandsons, two healthy, happy, smart boys who will be entering kindergarten within the next couple of years.

“I hear them roar when they are pretending to be dinosaurs, watch the level of concentration on their faces as they study the pictures in a book I’m reading, and feel their excitement when they see a crab on the beach.

“I know the effect high-quality exposure to 21st century education can have on their future. And then I think of some of the people who are currently on the board, pushing personal agendas that undermine the quality of education those boys will receive. And there is no question in my mind. This is what I have to do.”

The issue here is really very clear and quite simple.  If we want state school board members who work to ensure that there are qualified teachers in the classroom teaching real skills, who work to reduce the appalling drop-out rate, and bring to Texas curriculum which reinforces critical thinking, research, and real-life process skills then you should work for, contribute to, and otherwise support these two candidates for the Texas State Board of Education.

If you prefer right-wing, conservative, religious-fundamentalists pushing 19th century anti-intellectualism and enforcing a doctrinaire curriculum which enforces a narrow worldview, well, you actually don't have to do a damned thing.  Just sit on your butt and let things go on as they are right now.  But you might want to consider that's how we get into these messes and why maybe we deserve what we get!.

Excuse me, I need a Texas-sized laugh, guess I'll go watch the Astros awhile.

1 comment:

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