Martin Luther King Jr. Remembrance-Thank The Texas State Board of Education!!

January 16, 2012

Martin Luther King, Jr. holds a prominent place in the Texas History and Social Studies curriculum standards.  That’s correct, MLK is one of the most discussed and studied persons in our Texas curriculum standards passed in 2010, under the leadership of conservative Republicans.  I have long been an admirer of Dr. King, so I am proud that our state is showing such support for an incredible man.

In 2010( and part of 2009) the Texas State Board of Education had numerous public hearings, votes, discussions, meetings, etc. to decide on a final product for statewide History and Social Studies teaching for K-12 public school children in Texas.  Conservatives led the way and eventually 2/3rds of the elected SBOE members, all Republicans, voted in favor of a final product that is expected to stay in place for around ten years.

You heard a lot of celebrating from our side in 2010, because of the teaching on American Exceptionalism, the focus on teaching the U.S. Constitution and religious liberty, the Founding Fathers, and also praise for a large increase in diversity of persons included, across the board (race, ethnicity, gender, etc.)

But you also heard incorrect and exaggerated complaints from the left, the media, Bill White and numerous others who didn’t have their facts straight on this issue.  That’s why we set up the website, www.juststatethefacts.com

So we encourage you to be proud that our Texas Social Studies standards highlight one of the most important figures in American history and that Texas students have the “I Have A Dream” speech and “Letter From a Birmingham Jail” as part of our curriculum standards for public school children.

And be proud that it was a conservative group of Texas State Board of Education members that made it happen.


Lobbyist, Gay Republican Highlight Texas SBOE Races For Now

November 21, 2011

With all 15 State Board of Education (SBOE) seats on the ballot next year, there will be a lot of talk about the SBOE, particularly by the liberal media and the extreme liberal group Texas Freedom Network, known for regularly losing battles at the SBOE.  Through the election season, we can certainly count on both the media and TFN to continue their attempts to denigrate the board, particularly its conservative members.

Lobbyist, Moderate Republican Ratliff Faces Primary Challenge

There are two races that will likely get the most attention, in our opinion. First, the re-election bid of the only registered lobbyist on the SBOE, Thomas Ratliff, a moderate Republican will be closely watched and discussed.  Mr. Ratliff is still serving in his first term and has probably received more attention and drawn the most scrutiny of any other newly elected SBOE member because of his role as a paid lobbyist in Texas, for clients such as Microsoft.  Thomas Ratliff’s role as a lobbyist resulted in the Texas Attorney General researching the matter and concluding that a registered lobbyist who is paid to lobby on matters relating to SBOE business is, by law, ineligible to serve on the SBOE.  The lobbyist issue came up immediately in Mr. Ratliff’s first round of meetings serving on the SBOE in 2011, when he chose to recuse himself from an SBOE meeting to avoid a conflict of interest.

Mr. Ratliff is being challenged in the Republican primary by Randy Stevenson, a former SBOE member himself.  Mr. Ratliff proudly professes to be a moderate Republican. Mr. Ratliff achieved a narrow primary victory in 2010 over the conservative leader, Don McLeroy, by a mere 402 votes, out of 116,000.

Republican Incumbent Clayton Announces He’s Gay, Challenger is SBOE Veteran

Second, George Clayton’s effort for re-election is sure to draw a lot of attention as he tries to hang on to the seat he won in 2010 from longtime SBOE member Geraldine “Tincy” Miller.  Mrs. Miller had served on the SBOE for over 25 years prior to her narrow defeat by Mr. Clayton in the 2010 Republican primary, by a 52% – 48% margin.  Mr. Clayton was considered a relative unknown compared to Ms. Miller.  Ms. Miller is now the challenger and appears very determined to win back this seat.  We have received numerous reports from our grassroots friends in the Dallas area that confirm that Ms. Miller is working very hard to secure support.

Now that Mr. Clayton has served nearly two years on the SBOE and has come out as gay (Mr. Clayton revealed recently that he in fact has a “male partner that lives with me”), voters may have a better idea of where he stands on important issues.  Mr. Clayton revealing this information now about his sexual orientation is expected to draw a lot of attention to this Republican primary race with sex education curriculum on the SBOE’s agenda for next year.

Moderate Republican Craig Vacates His Seat, Endorses Carlise

Other races of interest are the seat vacated by longtime moderate Republican, Bob Craig.  Mr. Craig was a holdout on numerous key votes on the Science and Social Studies standards, often losing his initial efforts to defeat conservatives and then working compromises and changing his vote to side with conservatives when the outcomes were inevitable.  Mr. Craig and fellow moderate Thomas Ratliff have already endorsed their preference for his seat, Anette Carlisle, an Amarillo I.S.D. school board member. Mrs. Carlisle has been described as looking to continue Craig’s more moderate approach.

Republican Farney Seeks House Seat, SBOE Seat Trends Solid Red

Dr. Marsha Farney, still serving in her first SBOE term, has also announced that she will not run again.  Dr. Farney considers herself a “common sense conservative,” but the media often labels her a “moderate Republican.”  This open seat is also sure to attract some attention, but in 2010 Dr. Farney, running as a conservative, handed her liberal Democrat opponent a huge defeat, by a 56% – 40% margin in a district that included a large portion of the City of Austin and Travis County.

The Rest: Mercer, Cargill Expected to Hold, Democrat Berlanga Leaves Seat Up for Grabs

Conservative leaders, Ken Mercer and SBOE Chair Barbara Cargill, have also reportedly drawn primary challengers but are expected to hold their seats. Mr. Mercer secured victory by an enormous margin in 2010 (69% – 31%), when he was challenged by well-funded lobbyist, Tim Tuggey, in the 2010 Republican primary and Mercer soundly defeated liberal Democrat Rebecca Bell-Metereau (59% – 36%) in the general election, in a district that included South Austin and Travis County.

Mary Helen Berlanga, a longtime Democrat SBOE member from Corpus Christi will also not seek reelection.  She’s just a Democrat though, as it seems the media does not typically use qualifiers or other modifiers like “liberal” or “left wing” when they describe Democrat SBOE members, even though you’ll see the media use numerous words to describe the type of Republicans on the SBOE.  But for Democrats, they are just Democrats.  So are we to conclude that all of the Democrats on the SBOE are liberal and left-wing?  Something to think about.  It is safe to say that Ms. Berlanga could be considered one of the most liberal members of the SBOE, as she fought time and again to have Dolores Huerta, an avowed Socialist, included in our Social Studies standards as a model for good citizenship for students, twice.  That’s right, the fight was not over Dolores Huerta being including in the Texas History standards at all.  She was.  No, Ms. Berlanga would not be satisfied unless the Socialist was covered twice.  She lost this battle and many others, thankfully.

Conservative Republican Charile Garza, from the greater El Paso area is expected to have a fight on his hands to keep his seat as the new map approved as a result of redistricting points towards less conservative support, based on the opinion of many.  Garza, a long-time educator and decorated military veteran, pulled off a shocking victory in 2010, over 20-year SBOE member, Democrat Rene Nunez.

Liberal Democrat Michael Soto is also seeking election to a second term.  Now that his affiliations to far left groups like Texas Freedom Network and Americans United for Separation of Church and State are more well known, it will be interesting to see if he has a closer race this time around.

Liberty Institute will once again have a Voters Guide with the SBOE candidates’ responses to our questionnaire, available in early February of 2012.

It should be an interesting time for the SBOE heading into election season.


Texas Higher Education Board Distances Itself from Attack Report on Texas Social Studies Standards

November 11, 2011

Not So Fast! Just days after a member of academia released a report criticizing isolated parts of the K-12 Texas Social Studies standards adopted last year, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board has set the record straight.  Extreme Austin liberal groups, like Texas Freedom Network, attempted to credit the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) with the report, but the THECB quickly dismissed such affiliation and credit for the report by sending a very sharply worded press release out of their own.

See the THECB release here.

Seems the THECB wanted to make it very clear that they had nothing to do with this report written by some member of academia?  What could it be about this report that has the THECB so concerned?

We’ll look into this more closely and get back to you with more details as there wasn’t much of a story here until the THECB smartly distanced themselves from this report.


Veterans Day Teaching in Texas Public Schools Protected by Texas State Board Of Education, Religious Liberty Prevails over Federal Gov’t in Houston

November 11, 2011

Veterans & Their Families Protected in Texas by Liberty Institute:  At Liberty Institute we were honored to win a huge religious liberty case in Houston at the VA Cemetery where “God” was being banned at military funerals, in additiona to other hostile attempts censor religious expression.  Details here http://www.libertyinstitute.org/

Teaching on Veterans Day Prevails in  Texas Public Schools!  During the Texas Social Studies & History standards battle in 2010, a misguided group of teachers recommended that Veterans Day be removed from some sections of K-12 social studies.  But they wanted to add more mentions of Mary Kay Ash and some liberal members wanted more mentions of avowed Socialist, Dolores Huerta.  This outrageous effort by some groups of teachers to remove Veterans Day from parts of our social studies standards ultimately failed, because our ELECTED State Board of Education members said NO to these changes.  Our conservative leadership by the State Board of Education members, led the way on this. Find out more at www.juststatethefacts.com

Friends, THANK YOU TO ALL OUR VETERANS TODAY!!

For our continuing work, at Liberty Institute, to protect Veterans Memorials, like the Mojave Desert Memorial & Cross and the Mt. Soledad Memorial and see www.donttearmedown.com

Also, see our State Board of Education video where we helped keep Veterans Day from being taken out of some sections of the K-12 social studies standards and some pictures from the Veterans’ Day Parade in Austin.

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Today is Constitutional Amendment Election Day – Go Vote!

November 8, 2011

Today is election day in Texas.  There are 10 Constitutional Amendments on the ballot as well as bond elections and races at the local level. For more details on the election and to download our Constitutional Amendment Voters Guide, visit our recent blog post.  We also have a website, FreeVotersGuide.com, where you can download this free guide and find all the important information related to the election. Remember on election day you must vote in your local precinct.  You can find your polling location at the Secretary of State’s website.  Polling location will be open until 7:00 p.m.

Be sure to check back on the blog after the election.  We will have the election results and analysis for the Constitutional Amendment Election.


Catch Liberty Institute at the Texas Tribune Festival on Sunday debating the SBOE

September 23, 2011

Liberty Institute’s Director of Legislative Affairs, Jonathan Saenz will speak this weekend at the Texas Tribune Festival.  The Festival is a weekend of debate, discussion and dialogue regarding politics and public policy. It takes place Saturday and Sunday, September 24-25 at the University of Texas at Austin. Find out more or register here.

Jonathan Saenz frequently presents testimony in defense of conservative values before the Texas Legislature and the State Board of Education.  He will be taking part in the panel discussing:  “What Now for the State Board of Education?” The discussion promises to be lively because the panel also includes Kathy Miller of the liberal Texas Freedom Network, a group that targets people and elected officials for their religious beliefs (and usually loses policy votes too).  Former Chairman of the SBOE, Don McLeroy, and current SBOE member, Thomas Ratliff, will also be on the panel.

The panel discussion is Sunday, September 25 at 10:15 AM at the Student Activities Center Auditorium, 2201 Speedway, in Austin.

For a preview of the panel discussion, check out Jonathan sweeping the floor with Kathy Miller when debating the history standards on CNN last year.

 


Senator Dan Patrick and Rep. Sid Miller interviewed on Texas Legislative Session

September 12, 2011

As part of our continued coverage of the recently completed legislative session, we will be releasing a series of sit down interviews with key conservative legislators that had an impact on important issues during the session. Our 5th and 6th interviews are with Senator Dan Patrick and Representative Sid Miller.  Senator Patrick and Rep. Miller, authors of the Sonogram Bill in the Senate and House respectively, discuss the victory we had this session in passing the Sonogram Bill. Senator Patrick also discusses the key efforts to support and defend the State Board of Education.


Will Science/Evolution Materials With Errors Be Used in TX Classrooms: Action Item-Now!

July 14, 2011

Please call tomorrow morning to sign up to testify before the State Board of Education (for the hearing on next Thursday).

  1. If you have a science background, come testify next Thursday at the hearing, to support critical thinking skills, to stop materials with errors, and prevent censorship in the classroom. Email us by Friday at the latest at legislative@libertyinstitute.org for more information as testimony sign-ups begin at 8 a.m. on Friday, or see below!

Registration for public testimony:

Friday July 15th at 8 AM sharp, call 512-463-9007 to register. Be early and persistent, if you can!. If you have a Fax machine the Fax option below is a good option.

You will need the following information:

  • Name and address
  • Affiliation                     (self) 
  • Telephone number
  • Topic speaker will address   (science supplementary instructional materials)
  • Viewpoint      (against supplements with errors or that don’t meet state requirements that require critical analysis of all scientific theories)
  • Are you a registered lobbyist?    (No, for nearly all)

Fax:You can print the registration form at http://www.tea.state.tx.us/index4.aspx?id=2147497741, fill it out and fax it to 512-936-4319. Make sure the fax transmission completes normally and successfully, if not send it again. Then note the time you sent it on the original and keep it. It is a good idea to print this form ahead of time, fill it out and have it ready

When and where:

  • July 21st
  • State Board of Education meeting
    • room 1-104 (just past the elevators and to the right).
    • William B. Travis (WBT) State Office Building, 1701 N. Congress, Austin, Texas 78701

We’ll brief you and send out information next week, to help you get prepared for the hearing.

 Call and/or email (http://www.tea.state.tx.us/index4.aspx?id=3803)  your Texas State Board of Education member and tell he/she you support critical thinking and examining all sides of scientific theories, including evolution and you don’t want inaccurate science information taught in Texas.


Will Science/Evolution Materials With Errors Be Used in TX Classrooms? Vote is Next Week

July 13, 2011

Next Thursday, the State Board of Education will have a public hearing and vote on science materials for Texas classrooms. You’ll recall that in 2009 that the SBOE voted almost unanimously (13-2) for science standards that teach critical thinking skills to students and allow them to analyze, evaluate and examine all sides of scientific theories, including evolution.  Now, the SBOE is tasked with approving classroom materials that are supposed to follow the standards approved in 2009.  Some in the science field have found inaccurate information contained in many of the classroom materials submitted to the SBOE.  There is also a continued effort to censor critical thinking and discussion in the classroom on scientific theories, including evolution.  Action Item:

1.       If you have a science background, come testify next Thursday at the hearing, to support critical thinking skills, to stop materials with errors, and prevent censorship in the classroom. Email us by Friday at the latest at legislative@libertyinstitute.org for more information.

2.       Call and/or email (http://www.tea.state.tx.us/index4.aspx?id=3803)  your Texas State Board of Education member and tell he/she you support critical thinking and examining all sides of scientific theories, including evolution and you don’t want inaccurate science information taught in Texas.


Liberty Institute Statement on 82nd Legislative Session End: Life, Liberty Proctected With Some Exceptions

June 30, 2011

The Texas Legislature adjourned sine die the special session, and presumably concludes its official legislative work for the 82nd Texas Legislative Session.  Highlights of the session include passage of  (1) the Sonogram bill, (2) Voter I.D. bill,  (3) Choose Life license plate bill; (4) the defunding of millions of taxpayer dollars from Planned Parenthood; (5) the protection of the elected State Board of Education, (6) the protection of citizens whose constitutional rights have been violated, (7) the defeat of attacks on marriage and efforts to expand gambling, and (8) the balancing of the 2012-2013 budget without raising taxes or using the rainy day fund.

Liberty Institute released the following statement:

“While some religious liberty and conservative legislation did not pass, we are proud that Texas showed it stands for protecting women, protecting of innocent human life and taxpayer dollars and protecting the elected State Board of Education that has so valiantly defended teaching about our religious heritage, our U.S. Constitution and American exceptionalism.

“We are so thankful that Texas has distinguished itself from Washington, and Texas leaders have shown the rest of the country how to pass a balanced budget without raising taxes.

“Many elected officials responded to the will of the people, and that’s good government.”

Liberty Institute is a nonprofit legal and policy group dedicated to protecting freedoms and strengthening families. Liberty Institute maintains a full-time office in Austin, two blocks from the Texas Capitol and has a daily presence at the Capitol to advocate and assist in the legislative process.  Visit www.libertyinstitute.org for more information.

View the full statement in pdf form here.

Editor’s Note:  Jonathan Saenz, director of Legislative Affairs for Liberty Institute, can help round out your coverage of the Texas 82nd Legislative Session.  Call Jennifer Grisham to schedule an interview.

If you like the work Liberty Institute is involved in, please support us by making a donation today.  We are a nonprofit organization.


Protect the Texas State Board of Education From ACLU and Texas Freedom Network, Oppose SB 1348 on Senate Floor Today: Call Your Senator Now!

April 28, 2011

Texas State Board of Education in jeopardy. SB 1348, by Democrat Senator Leticia Van De Putte, is on the Senate Floor Calendar today and could be up for a vote. SB 1348 requires you to be a university faculty member and have a Ph.D. in education or a “terminal degree” to be on an expert review team regarding K-12 curriculum changes by the TX SBOE, like the History/Social Studies standards.

Who supports this bill – both the ACLU and the Texas Freedom Network.

The Texas Freedom Network wants to abolish the Texas SBOE and transfer its responsibilities to the unelected TEA, nullify the social studies standards passed in 2010, and is working against the conformation of Gail Lowe for Chair of the SBOE.

Please call your Texas Senator and ask them to oppose SB 1348. Click here to find your State Senator: http://capwiz.com/libertyinstitute/dbq/officials/. You can download our Texas Legislative Guide with all of Texas’ elected officials contact information at http://legislativeguide.libertyinstitute.org/. All Senators can be reached through the Capitol Switchboard at 512.463.4630

You’ll recall that the elected SBOE saved from elimination the following: Christmas, the Liberty Bell, Neil Armstrong, Albert Einstein, Jonas Salk and used their current operating procedures to ensure accurate teaching about religious freedom in the First Amendment of the Constitution. The elected SBOE also ensured that public school students would learn about the U.S. Constitution, our Founding Fathers, and the key concept of American Exceptionalism.

To get the facts on the History standards, visit http://juststatethefacts.com/

For some history on the issue, please watch this video:


Update: Protect The SBOE Calls Needed Today! Oppose SB 1348!

April 26, 2011

Update: Senate is now set to vote on a bill, SB 1348 that undermines authority of the SBOE.  Click here for more information on defeating SB 1348.  https://texaslegislativeupdate.wordpress.com/

2:00 p.m. Update:  We are now being told that this bill will not come up for a vote.  Thanks for stepping up!

“Protect the SBOE” Calls Needed Today!

Please call the members of the House Public Education Committee and ask them to oppose HB 3257, by Democrat State Representative, Mark Strama (D-Austin).  There is pressure to pass this bill out of committee as all other bills that strip away power and authority from the State Board of Education have not moved forward.  HB 3257 puts the Texas Legislature in the position of telling the elected SBOE members when and how the SBOE is allowed to make changes and corrections to the curriculum standards, such as Social Studies, after unelected review teams make their changes to the curriculum.

You’ll recall that the elected SBOE saved from elimination the following: Christmas, the Liberty Bell, Neil Armstrong, Albert Einstein, Jonas Salk and used their current operating procedures to ensure accurate teaching about religious freedom language in the First Amendment of the Constitution.  The elected SBOE has their own operating rules and their ability to decide the content of such operating rules should not be stripped by the Texas Legislature, in regards to amendments to curriculum standards or any other matter within their rules.

Chair: Rep. Rob Eissler (R-The Woodlands) 512-463-0797
Vice Chair: Rep. Scott Hochberg (D-Houston) 512-463-0492
Members: Rep. Alma Allen (D-Houston) 512-463-0744
  Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock (R-Killeen) 512-463-0684
  Rep. Harold V. Dutton, Jr. (D-Houston) 512-463-0510
  Rep. Ryan Guillen (D-Ri0 Grande City) 512-463-0416
  Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Kingwood) 512-463-0520
  Rep. Mark Shelton(R-Fort Worth)512-463-0608
  Rep. Todd Smith (R-Bedford) 512-463-0522
  Rep. Mark Strama (D-Austin-Bill Author) 512-463-0821
  Rep. Randy Weber (R-Pearland) 512-463-0707

Texas History Standards: Just State the Facts!

April 18, 2011

There have been a few hearings on bills that target the current role and authority of the State Board of Education.  During these hearings, we hear more discussion showing that it’s helpful for everyone debating this issue to know the facts in their entirety.

So we’ve set up a website for this:  www.juststatethefacts.com


“Moderate” Republican Supports Texas Social Studies/History Standards, Gail Lowe For SBOE Chair

March 30, 2011

In a special article today in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, State Board of Education Member, Pat Hardy writes in support of the texas social studies standards approved in May 2010 and in support of conservative Republican Gail Lowe being confirmed by the Texas Senate this session, i.e. before the end of May.

See the article here. http://www.star-telegram.com/2011/03/29/2959035/texas-senators-need-to-approve.html

I put the word moderate in quotes because the media often likes to describe Pat Hardy as a moderate even though I think you’ll find that Pat sees herself as a conservative and Pat is a strong supporter of the Texas Social Studies standards.  She also has over 40 years of experience in education, particularly in the subject of social studies.

Pat says this in her article: “Some activist groups, including one from Washington, D.C., don’t like our social studies standards. However, Lowe should be judged on her respect and fairness during meetings, not whether or not her votes match up with D.C.-based power players.

As an educator with 40 years’ experience as a social studies teacher and coordinator, I fully support the social studies standards adopted in May 2010 by the State Board of Education by a 9-5 vote.

To repeat a curriculum adoption process that lasted nearly 18 months would be a misuse of precious tax dollars and would thwart the will of the voters. Little, if any, changes in the actual content would result.

Perry appointed Lowe for a second term. There is no good reason why she should not be confirmed.”


Hearing Today on SBOE Bill, Texas State Board Of Education In Question

March 29, 2011

HB 862, by Republican Rep. Diane Patrick, will be heard today by House Public Education.  We’ll be testifying against this bill.  This is the bill that was voted down by the House last session, HB 710.

Planned Parenthood front group, Texas Freedom is a liberal advocacy group that frequently attacks the Republican, conservative State Board of Education (SBOE) members because of their religious beliefs and personal choices.

Texas Freedom Network supports HB 862 and has now indicated their support on their website. http://www.tfn.org/site/DocServer/SBOE.pdf?docID=2403


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