Ever wonder who decides what your kids are taught in school? It’s not their principals and teachers. Nor is it their school’s superintendent. The Legislature, maybe? Not quite; the Legislature’s responsibility is to write the education code, fund the schools, and keep the state’s commitment to an accountability system. Every once in a while a lawmaker might pass a bill that authorizes Bible classes or requires daily recitation of the pledge of allegiance to the Texas flag, but the Legislature isn’t responsible for curriculum. Okay, then, how about the Texas Education Agency and the commissioner of education? Sounds right, but you’re wrong again. The TEA’s role is simply (or not so simply) to administer the education code.
Ready for the answer? The folks who decide what Texas schoolchildren will learn are the fifteen members of the State Board of Education. Don’t worry if you can’t name a single one. Almost nobody can! Members of this obscure panel are elected in down-ballot races that generate about as much media attention as an appointment to the Funeral Service Commission, but they are the ones who determine the classroom content for every public- or charter-school student in Texas. The board, currently composed of ten Republicans and five Democrats, oversees the process that establishes curriculum standards—known as Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills—and adopts or rejects textbooks. Members serve four-year terms and receive no financial compensation. (You heard right: They do this for free.) So how well do you know the powerful volunteers who control your children’s education? Take this quiz and see.
Pencils up … begin!
1. How many of the fifteen members of the State Board of Education have experience teaching children in a classroom?
A. All of them.
B. None of them.
2. True or false: Every member of the board has a