New ACLU Of Texas Report Documents State Board Of Education Abuse Of Power

Affiliate: ACLU of Texas
May 13, 2010 12:00 am

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Legislature Should Establish Guidelines For Curriculum Standards

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CONTACT: media@aclu.org

AUSTIN – A new report from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas released today calls for the State Legislature to check the State Board of Education’s “systemic abuse” of power by limiting the Board’s ability to insert personal ideologies into curriculum content.

“The State Board of Education (SBOE) has abused its power by inserting members’ narrow, personal beliefs into the development of what should be a world class program of study. A public school curriculum should promote academic integrity, not ideological agendas,” said ACLU of Texas Executive Director Terri Burke.

The SBOE is scheduled to meet from May 18-21 to adopt new social studies curriculum standards. The period for public comment ends May 19. “Recent news reports that the SBOE has received more than 20,000 public comments is a good sign that this government body can no longer operate without accountability,” Burke added. “The SBOE should vote to reject this curriculum as amended. A new process for revising the curriculum should be instituted.”

The ACLU of Texas report, “The Texas State Board of Education: A Case of Abuse of Power,” tracks the Board’s long-running abuse of power, which began in the mid-1990s. From manipulating textbook content to inserting personal ideological beliefs into Texas’ curriculum standards, the Board has repeatedly shown its inability to place the well-being of Texas’s schoolchildren ahead of its activist agenda. The report was drafted and edited by Frank Knaack, Legal Advocacy Coordinator of the ACLU of Texas.

In addition, the report recommends that the Texas Legislature should limit the Board’s power, establish minimum academic qualifications for all persons involved in the review and adoption of curriculum standards, and implement a statutory system of checks and balances to prevent future abuse. A list of recommendations from the ACLU of Texas follows.

See the full report as a PDF at: www.aclutx.org/sboereport

ACLU Of Texas Recommendations To Restore Integrity To The Process For Adoption Of Curriculum Standards

The Texas Legislature should:

  • Establish minimum qualifications for all persons involved in determining the substance of the “Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills” (TEKS).
  • Remove the Board’s authority over the development and adoption of the TEKS by implementing one of the following three options:
    • Limit the Board’s authority to only those duties required by the Texas Constitution. Create a new body charged with the development and adoption of the TEKS and its related concerns including textbook adoption and assessment standards.
    • Limit the Board’s role to non-substantive matters in the development and adoption of the TEKS, and their related concerns including textbook adoption and assessment standards.
    • Limit the Board to non-binding recommendations related to the development and adoption of the TEKS, and its related concerns including textbook adoption and assessment standards. Persons charged with the substantive development and adoption of the TEKS must retain complete authority over the TEKS.
  • Create checks and balances in the appointment process for all persons involved in the substantive development and adoption of the TEKS.

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