THE IMPORTANCE OF THE TEXAS BOARD OF ED: Has Tom Ratliff defeated ultra-right creationist Don McLeroy?
So, moderate Republican Tom Ratliff holds a narrow lead over incumbent ultra-right creationist Don McLeroy in the critically important Texas State Board of Education race! Non-crazy Republicans have coalesced with Democrats to support Ratliff's candidacy over McLeroy, one of the staunchest drivers of the Texas SBoE's massive politicization and shift away from rational, objective educational standards.
Why should anyone from outside of Texas care? Here's the deal: Texas has overwhelming, outsized influence over textbook publishing. Which means standards set by Texas's SBoE reshape content and editorial slant for the entire nation—because publishers don't print one set of textbooks for Texas and another for the rest of the world.
McLeroy has been hyperaggressive in pushing "Intelligent Design" theory and has repeatedly stated to the press that the Earth is just a few thousand years old.
In 2009, he said this about his stance on public-school history textbook evaluation: "We are a Christian nation founded on Christian principles: The way I evaluate history textbooks is first I see how they cover Christianity and Israel. Then I see how they treat Ronald Reagan—he needs to get credit for saving the world from communism and for the good economy over the last twenty years because he lowered taxes.”
Awesome—that's just what I want my public-schooled kids to learn!
Why don't we just rewrite the Pledge of Allegiance while we're at it?: "We pledge allegiance to the Ron, and the fundamentalist, tax-cutting principles for which He stands...." (Note to Republicans who went ballistic over spurious charges of President Obama "indoctrinating" schoolkids with a televised speech on the importance of education—I do not hear your outrage. And the mocking of Obama as "The One" is laughable given the degree to which the Right fetishizes Reagan; it's like they want to expand the Holy Trinity to a Quartet—Father, Son, Holy Spirit, and The Gipper.)
Well, if we want to understand and be competitive with the biggest, fastest growing nation on Earth—which holds the majority of America's foreign debt—maybe we do? Because, you know, China is learning English at a staggering rate. The biggest English-speaking population on Earth is currently in India.
The second biggest is in China. (And China's catching up—by some counts, it may even already be in first place.)
The U.S., meanwhile, is third.
And our ability to speak, read and write our native tongue is getting worse, as the misspelled, grammatically erratic signs at Tea Party rallies and in online comments demonstrate.
You can thank politicians like Don McLeroy for that, too.