State Board of Education

The State Board of Education is a 15-member governing body elected to single member districts that determines curriculum standards and approves public school textbooks. The original purpose of the board was to provide popular oversight so voters could have some control over what students were taught.

The Board's Constitutional and statutory authority is to:

  • Establish statewide curriculum standards for public school courses, including content knowledge and skills students are to master
  • Review and adopt textbooks for purchase by local school districts
  • Set student graduation requirements
  • Determine standards of performance for state-mandated assessment tests
  • Oversee the Texas Permanent School Fund
  • Approve the creation of specific charter schools
  • Adopt regulations and standards for adult education programs

While a majority of Texans think teachers and scholars should design school curricula, SBOE members have for several years now have replaced significant pieces of science and academic curiosity with theology and dogmatism. For instance:

  • They attempted to institute the teaching of religious creationism in science classes
  • They have nearly eliminated any teaching about birth control and STD's
  • They changed curricula and textbooks so that the contributions of minorities and different cultures in history are downplayed
  • They blurred the line between religious rules and law

Problems with the current design of the board:

  • No requirement for members to have a background in education
  • No limits on Board intrusion into the classroom -- pet notions of single Board members can be forced on teachers and students
  • No requirement for deliberation on curriculum standards
  • Parliamentary tricks have been used to advance policies that in no way reflect that of most Texans
  • Devaluing the role of teachers, educators, and subject-matter experts in the development and approval of curriculum revisions and textbooks.
  • Recruiting so-called "experts," who are not qualified and recognized in education circles, to advance personal ideological and religious beliefs -- for example, how the world was created, how old the earth is, how America is portrayed in history, which historical figures should be studied, how reading and phonics are taught, which books should be read, and how sex-education should be taught.
  • Orchestrating open-meeting testimony to advance personal ideological views concerning the standardized curriculum and textbooks.
  • Jeopardizing the multi-billion-dollar Permanent School Fund by ignoring financial counsel and voting to commit proceeds to risky investments.

Recommendations for improving the design of the SBOE:

  • Requirements for board membership, one of the following:
    • 6 years experience in public education as a teacher or administrator in a Texas public school
    • Parent, grandparent or guardian of a student who is attending or has attended a Texas public school
    • Have graduated from a Texas public high school
  • Require the SBOE to appoint experienced academic experts to develop proposals for their fields of study only, on which the board will vote or send back for revision
  • Proposed curriculum standards must be available for public review at least two weeks in advance any Board vote
  • A vote of two thirds of the members in attendance should be required to override curriculum recommendations of an expert panel.
  • Curriculum advisors appointed by the board should have at least 10 years experience in public education in the subject area or be college professors in the subject area at a Texas University and be current residents of Texas
  • Create fair guidelines concerning public sign-up for testimony at open meetings.

Common Cause of Texas believes that all students should be allowed to receive religious teaching in the home, but no student should have to receive religious teaching from public schools. Religious views are widely varied and highly personal and should be kept in the proper institutions and out of public schools.

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