5:10 pm CST - January 25, 2010
Posted under On The Record
By Jim Cardle
Texas Gov. Rick Perry has taken a principled, and much appreciated stand against federal intrusion into one of our society’s most precious cornerstones – education. His decision not to pursue money for Texas schools through the federal government’s “Race to the Top” grant program is right on every level. Here are a few reasons why:
- Texas education standards are nationally recognized for their excellence. No need to dumb them down.
- Texas would lose control of its curriculum by having to adopt national curriculum standards under the federal program.
- In exchange for minimal per student funding, the public in Texas would lose its ability to shape our public education system.
“Our states and our communities must reserve the right to decide how we educate our children and not surrender that control to a federal bureaucracy,” Gov. Perry said in announcing Texas’ decision.
He noted that Texas’ education standards were developed through an open process involving parents, teachers and business leaders and were then adopted by elected members of the State Board of Education not by unaccountable bureaucrats in Washington.
Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott reinforced the governor’s concern by pointing out the federal curriculum Texas would be forced to adopt would be written in a room somewhere without significant input or feedback and would exclude the average Texas.
We wholeheartedly agree. But that doesn’t mean public education is safe.
In fact, the very attacks that are being repulsed from the national level are gaining a foothold at our own state level.
These attacks are occurring through the adoption of open source textbook rules proposed by the Texas Education Commission, rules that completely exclude public participation in curriculum development and circumvent the opportunity for educators, parents and the public to review and comment on instructional material before it is adopted for classroom use.
The open-source rules would allow school districts to buy instructional material that has not gone through the public review and comment process and, by doing so, threaten to undermine decades of public input that is responsible for the quality public education system Texans enjoy today.
We need Gov. Perry to stand tall against these proposed Texas bureaucratic proposals and to prevent the TEA from doing at the state level what he is stopping Washington from doing to Texas curriculum at the federal level.
“We’d been foolish and irresponsible to place our children’s future in the hands of unelected bureaucrats…and to virtually eliminate parents’ participation in their children’s education.”
Gov. Perry drafted those comments to renounce the federal “Race to the Top” program.
The sad fact is those same comments describe perfectly what will happen to Texas education if the open source rules are put into place at the state level.
If it’s bad on the federal level, it’s equally as bad on the state level.
It’s time for Gov. Perry to bring the open source issue into the full light of day and to stand up for the right of the public to continue participating fully in the development of the curriculum that will be used to teach our children.
James B. Cardle is President & CEO of the Texas Citizen Action Network, a dynamic community of Texas leaders who develop ideas, brainstorm solutions & acquire the skills necessary to impact the public policy decision making process in Texas.