New Texas Education Law Could Help Render Board of Ed Culture Wars Obsolete
The jury's still out, but the fact fetishists at the Texas Freedom Network seem to think that the recently enacted Senate Bill 6 may help neuter the historically science-averse state Board of Education.
The law provides districts with state money for text books and tech devices like laptops and tablets. But the provision that has TFN buzzing is a line in the "Instructional Materials Allotment" section, which says the state money can be used to buy materials "regardless of whether the instructional materials are on the list adopted under Section 31.024."
Until now, school districts have been allowed to buy texts only off of the list of approved materials chosen by the State Board of Education, which has notoriously been guided by political and religious ideology rather than history and sound science.
Remember when they tried to write Thomas "Separation of Church and State" Jefferson out of history? Or the time they thought about referring to the slave trade by the toothless euphemism "Atlantic triangular trade?" And, you know, maybe Joseph McCarthy was on to something after all.
If anything, the new law dilutes some of the outsize textbook-buying power wielded by the state. Where, for example, you wouldn't find an iPad on the board's list of approved texts, now it doesn't matter. If anything, it could democratize the industry, allowing the use of open-source materials beyond the big publishers.
The unintended consequence, as TFN sees it, is that it could provide a check on the board. So If, in the future, it embarks on another sojourn into the mouth of madness, well, there are alternatives to pseudoscience and sanitized histories.
"It may potentially lend less clout to the adoption process," Dan Casey, a public school policy expert, told Unfair Park.
To be sure, districts will still have to find materials that adhere to the curriculum standards, but the new law may de-claw the board, if only a little.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Observer's biggest stories.