Texas State Board of Education member Mavis Knight, a Democrat whose District 13 includes part of Dallas and Tarrant Counties, had no idea till reached by Unfair Park this afternoon that her fellow board member Cynthia Dunbar has published a book. But, sure enough, there it is on Amazon: One Nation Under God: How the Left is Trying to Erase What Made Us Great. Dunbar -- who, days before the presidential election, infamously published an online essay insisting Barack Obama is a terrorist sympathizer --
also uses her Web site to plug the book, which, she writes, is a counterattack on the "humanistic social groups that have emerged on her soil."
We mention this today because the Texas Freedom Network likewise just got around to reading the book -- so we don't have to? -- and has issued a call for Dunbar's removal from the board's Committee on Instruction, which sets the state's policies on curriculum and textbook adoption. Says the TFN about the book penned by the board member who, in the picture here at least, looks like a Kristen Wiig Saturday Night Live character:
In her book One Nation Under God, Dunbar (on p. 100) calls public education a "subtly deceptive tool of perversion." She charges that the establishment of public schools is unconstitutional and even "tyrannical" because it threatens the authority of families, granted by God through Scripture, to direct the instruction of their children (p. 103). Dunbar, who has home-schooled her children and sent them to private schools, bases that charge on her belief that "the underlying authority for our constitutional form of government stems directly from biblical precedents." (p. xv)
The TFN's full release (more like a book report, really) follows -- as does a response from Knight, who said today that as soon as we hung up the phone, "I'm going to Barnes & Noble to get a copy of that thing."
Below, you'll find many excerpts from the book -- at least those the Austin-based nonprofit found interesting enough to cite in its push to get Dunbar gone. So, of course, when taken in their proper context within the entirety of the book's 254 pages (!), they may well come across as, ya know, reasonable. Or not. Either way, Knight did ask us to read her a few of the choice quotes contained in the release. So we did. And this is what she had to say.
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"I find her perspective very, um, interesting, and I am wondering what is her level of commitment to public education based upon these comments," Knight, pictured at right, tells Unfair Park. The two board members do not speak outside meetings, Knight says, save for some "social niceties" when they're not in session. "But I am astounded that someone with such views would want to serve on a public school board if the intent is to undermine public education.
"Let me put it this way: I want my Christiantity to be something people voluntarily embrace as opposed to having it imposed on them. The idea is that you spread the good news and leave it up to the individual whether or not to follow biblical principles and Christ. I like the freedom of choice option. Yes, I've always known where she stood, but this is ... enlightening, let me put it that way."
Below, the Texas Freedom Network's release. --Robert Wilonsky
SBOE CHAIR SHOULD REMOVE DUNBAR FROM INSTRUCTION COMMITTEE
Board Member's New Book Attacks Public Education as a 'Tool of Perversion,' 'Unconstitutional' and 'Tyrannical'
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 4, 2008
The State Board of Education's chairman should remove Cynthia Dunbar, R-Richmond, from the panel's Committee on Instruction following the publication of a new book in which she attacks a public education system she helps govern, the Texas Freedom Network's president said today.
"It's bad enough that she wants to use our children's schools to promote ideological agendas that are far outside the mainstream," Miller said. "But she has really crossed a line here. The chairman should assure parents that he will shield the public school curriculum and our children's education from extremists like Ms. Dunbar."
In her book, One Nation Under God (Onward, 2008), Dunbar (on p. 100) calls public education a "subtly deceptive tool of perversion." She charges that the establishment of public schools is unconstitutional and even "tyrannical" because it threatens the authority of families, granted by God through Scripture, to direct the instruction of their children (p. 103) Dunbar, who has home-schooled her children and sent them to private schools, bases that charge on her belief that "the underlying authority for our constitutional form of government stems directly from biblical precedents." (p. xv)
"Even if you question the accuracy of my constitutional interpretation as proof of the inappropriateness of a state-created, tax-payer supported school system, still the Scriptures bear witness to such an institution's lack of proper authority in the life of the Christian family," Dunbar writes (p. 102).
Dunbar also offers a hint about why she helps govern a public education system she loathes.
"This battle for our nation's children and who will control their education and training is crucial to our success for reclaiming our nation," Dunbar writes (p. 100), after earlier condemning what she calls a secular society that resembles Nazi Germany just before the Holocaust. Those at risk today are "the devout, Bible-believing Christians," she writes (p. 2).
Dunbar argues that the Founders created "an emphatically Christian government" (p. 18) and believed government should be guided by a "biblical litmus test." (p. 47) She also endorses a "belief system" that would "require that any person desiring to govern have a sincere knowledge and appreciation for the Word of God in order to rightly govern." (p. 17)
Dunbar sees public schools as a threat to that belief system: "Our children are, after all, our best and greatest assets, and we are throwing them into the enemy's flames even as the children of Israel threw their children to Moloch." (p. 101)
Dunbar should have been honest with voters when she ran for the board in 2006, Miller said.
"A fire chief wouldn't knowingly hire an arsonist in the department," Miller said. "It's just as hard to imagine many voters knowingly supporting for the State Board of Education an extremist who despises the public schools nearly everybody's kids except her own attend."
Dunbar won her seat in 2006 and sits on the state board's key Committee on Instruction. The committee guides the state board's policies on curriculum and textbook adoptions. Earlier this year, for example, Dunbar used her position on that committee to win approval for vague guidelines that some public schools have used to offer deeply flawed and blatantly sectarian Bible classes in the past. Even worse, she then joined three other board members in endorsing a constitutionally suspect Bible course curriculum that Odessa public schools had been forced to remove from classrooms after being sued by local parents.
The board is currently debating a revision of science curriculum standards for the state's public schools. Dunbar is part of a bloc of creationists who want public schools to teach students that evolution is not established, mainstream science. The board will begin revising social studies curriculum standards, including standards for American history and government, next year.