sboe

Advice for the State Board of Education

May 6, 2010 By Paul Burka

You might want to think twice about including a vindication of Joe McCarthy's anticommunist activities, based on the revelations of the Venona papers, in the proposed social studies curriculum standards, for two reasons: (1) It was stupid. (2) It was wrong. The current issue of The Weekly Standard, a conservative journal of high quality, has a review of a new book on Soviet espionage in America, titled Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America. Quoting from the review: Since the Cold War, two competing narratives about Soviet espionage in the United States have existed. The left has argued that many who were accused by either Joseph McCarthy or the House Committee on Un-American Activities of being Soviet agents were simply political dissenters, falsely accused because of their opposition to the foreign policies of the United States since the Truman era. Their only crime was to be forthright and brave opponents of a get-tough anti-Soviet policy, and the scorn heaped upon them—and sometimes the actual prosecutions or blacklists—served only to scare others from speaking out. Many on the right assumed, as a matter of course, that most of those named as Communists or as actual Soviet agents, sources, or spies were, in fact, guilty as charged. To those who assumed the worst, most Communists were likely spies in waiting, if not yet engaged. Therefore someone like McCarthy, who railed about the failure of the Truman and Eisenhower administrations to do anything to protect America’s national security, was generally correct, and in retrospect, McCarthy’s campaign to stop treason in government was both brave and correct. Ann Coulter has called McCarthy a great hero whom history has proved correct, and M. Stanton Evans devoted a recent biography to the proposition that McCarthy was the man who should have been listened to, and whose advice, if taken, would have prevented some major Soviet attempts to destroy our government. It is because of the power and strength of John Earl Haynes, Harvey Klehr, and Alexander Vassiliev (hereafter HKV) that this magisterial book transcends the old debates and paradigms, and provides the most complete and thorough account of what Soviet espionage agents actually did in the United States, as well as revealing—by sorting through the evidence in painstaking detail—who these agents were, and what harm they caused. Here is the relevant passage about McCarthy:

HISD debates SBOE’s social studies changes; Democratic SBOE member Lawrence Allen defends board’s changes

Apr 23, 2010 By Paul Burka

Thanks to my colleague Katy Vine, who follows the drama of the State Board of Education, for calling this blog post in the Houston Press to my attention. Here's the post in full: The Houston ISD employees who were asked to draft a resolution asking the State Board of Education to step back from the changes it made recently in the proposed social studies curriculum for public school students, told the Houston school board today that students will be asked to memorize an overwhelming number of "dates and dead people" if the amendments stand. Angela Miller, the manager of secondary social studies curriculum for HISD said, for instance, that instead of the current 92 objectives to be mastered in U.S. History since 1877, the new curriculum calls for 127. Tenth grade World History objectives would go from 92 to 127. The result, school district Superintendent Terry Grier said, would be that students would be spending even more time in drill and kill exercises, rather than learning to think critically and explore higher academic skills. Miller and others from the social studies curriculum who wrote up a talking points document also challenged the changes on grounds that first graders for instance were being required to understand concepts way beyond their 6-year-old years and that some of the scholarship, for example how McCarthyism helped uncover how Communists had infiltrated the U.S. government, is suspect.

Farney assails Russell in key SBOE race

Apr 12, 2010 By Paul Burka

Today I received a robo-call from former state senator and lieutenant governor Bill Ratliff urging Republicans to support Marsha Farney in her race for State Board of Education against Brian Russell. Ratliff’s brief message made the point that Farney had showed her commitment to public education by sending her children…

Center of Gravity

Mar 1, 2010 By Paul Burka

Who can challenge Republicans on the State Board of Education? A different kind of Republican.

Ratliff will challenge McLeroy for SBOE post

Jun 2, 2009 By Paul Burka

Not former lieutenant governor Bill Ratliff. His son, Thomas. Ratliff says that the general release is timed for 8:30 a.m. but that it may be released any time this morning before that. It's 12:50 a.m. Here's the text of the release: AUSTIN - On the heels of a legislative session that saw 15 bills filed by Republican and Democrat legislators to curtail some or all of the responsibilities of the State Board of Education, Thomas Ratliff has filed the necessary paperwork with the Texas Ethics Commission to run for the District 9 seat. The incumbent is Dr. Don McLeroy, whose nomination for chairman of the SBOE was recently rejected by the Texas Senate. Mr. Ratliff said, “First, I want to thank Dr. McLeroy for his 10 years of service on the SBOE. I just simply have a different approach to working for the parents and schoolchildren of Texas. I am running because I want to work with educators and the other SBOE members to provide leadership for Texas’ neighborhood schools, help mend the fractured relationship with the Texas legislature and restore the public’s confidence in the State Board of Education.”

McLeroy nomination fails

May 28, 2009 By Patricia Kilday Hart

As expected, Senate Democrats — with Eddie Lucio present, not voting — blocked the confirmation of Bryan dentist Don McLeroy as chair of the State Board of Education. At least, everyone seemed to expect it but Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who announced after the vote that McLeroy was confirmed, until…

Resurrection Day

May 20, 2009 By Patricia Kilday Hart

I declared on a recent Friday podcast that Don McLeroy’s confirmation as chairman of the State Board of Education was officially dead this session, but this afternoon Senate Nominations sent the controversial Bryan dentist’s confirmation to the Senate floor for a vote. So, to quote Billy Crystal’s character in “The…