Texas Board of Education Rejects Proposal Allowing Experts to Fact-Check Textbooks November 19, 2015

Texas Board of Education Rejects Proposal Allowing Experts to Fact-Check Textbooks

The Texas Board of Education has long been a punchline for the rest of the country.

There was the time when it was led by Creationist Don McLeroy, who did all he could to dismantle the teaching of proper science in the classroom. There was the time after he left when the Board approved textbooks suggesting Moses influenced the writing of the Constitution. There was the time the Board was led by evolution-doubter Barbara Cargill. And we’re currently at a time when the Board is led by Liberty University graduate Donna Bahorich, who thinks so highly of public schools that she home-schooled her own kids before enrolling them in a private school.

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But the latest decision by the Board tells you the problem isn’t just with who’s leading the group, but most of the people on it.

The Board just rejected a proposal that would allow experts to fact-check textbooks before they’re approved for use in the state’s public schools.

Let me repeat that because it’s so stunningly stupid.

The Board just rejected a proposal that would allow experts to fact-check textbooks before they’re approved for use in the state’s public schools.

That’s one of those things you just assume happens. Because what’s the alternative?! But not in Texas, where partisan Board members get final say over what gets taught in classrooms.

Republican board member Thomas Ratliff had proposed bringing in academics to check textbooks only for factual errors, but his measure failed 8-7 after lengthy discussion.

“I know people are concerned about pointy-headed liberals in the ivory tower making our process different or worse,” Ratliff, of Mount Pleasant, said before the vote. “But I hold our institutions of higher education in fairly high regard.”

Which is a way of saying I trust experts to know the field they’re experts in.

Unfortunately, only six other Board members agreed with him.

Rather than allowing academics to intervene, the board voted unanimously to tweak its current system, mandating that review panels be made up of “at least a majority” of people with “sufficient content expertise and experience” as determined by the Texas education commissioner.

Somehow they just took a bad system and made it worse.

They’re going with a review panel that only has a simple majority of people who (supposedly) know what they’re talking about.

What constitutes “sufficient content expertise”? Getting a C average in your high school history classes? Spending time in the Creation Museum? Graduating from Liberty University?

No wonder ideology trumps knowledge in Texas. The “citizen review panels” they have are made up of people nominated by some of the very people who aren’t qualified to be running the State School Board in the first place.

And the ones who will suffer the most are the students, who will once again be stuck with a subpar education because the adults in charge didn’t feel the need to bring in experts to vet the content kids are supposed to learn in school.

Because what the hell do “experts” who work in “academia” know about “facts” and “the goddamn subjects they devoted their entire lives to understanding”?

(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Brian for the link)

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