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Web Letters | The Nation

Web Letter

Let me state at the outset that I am running for Texas State Board of Education, District 5.

Ken Mitchell advocates home schooling as a solution to the kind of problems we have in Texas and around the nation. One of the most infamous members of the Texas SBOE, Cynthia Dunbar, home-schooled her children, and she calls public education a tool of "perversion."

I differ with Mr. Mitchell and Ms. Dunbar in their negative assessment of public schools. While there are indeed numerous problems with public education, it is the best hope we have to maintain a healthy democracy. Most people do not have the means to home school their children, and, although some parents do an excellent job of home-schooling, others do not.

Please see the touching story of Mr. Josaiah Ingalls, who also ran in the primaries for Texas District 5, for an excellent example of someone who was a victim of lax oversight and inattention to the performance of home schools. His parents sat him in front of a television set and he failed to learn to read until he was practically an adult.

All of us must view our public education system--K-12, community colleges, and state universities--as a treasure that we must guard and nurture carefully, whether or not we have children in public school. We must make sure that we're getting our money's worth out of these resources, but we must also view what we spend on public education as out most important investment in the future. My husband and I sent our two daughters to public schools, and we volunteered our time to help improve the quality of education for our daughters and for other people's children as well.

I teach at a public university, and I have witnessed the recent deterioration of my students' preparedness for higher education. They have suffered under a relentless regime of preparing for tests, meanwhile failing to develop critical or creative thinking skills. The Texas State Board of Education can turn this trend around if we elect reasonable people in districts 3, 5, and 10. Texas textbooks may not be adopted wholesale throughout the country anymore, but their influence is still huge. The curriculum and books in Texas must provide the best education we can offer in the twenty-first century.

Rebecca Bell-Metereau

San Marcos, Texas

Apr 3 2010 - 1:05pm

Web Letter

Doea anyone have an estimate on the cost to build a wall all the way around Texas (and possibly Oklahoma too)?

Tom Walker

Henderson, NV

Mar 25 2010 - 4:14pm

Web Letter

One way to stem this regressive trend, I think, is for the universities to take a position. What if universities (at least private ones in Texas) throughout the country notify Texas and other such states, school districts, etc., that they will refuse admission to students who are subjected to this type of education? At least, institutions of higher education can establish a policy that the incoming students who have suffered from these must undergo remedial education for a year (or more, depending on the damages the incoming students have suffered)? It would surely force the parents and students to take notice, inspire them to organize and oppose the subversions of the lives of the young people by politicians with fascist tendencies!

M. Siddique

Chevy Chase, MD

Mar 24 2010 - 12:58pm

Web Letter

Fixing the Texas Board of Education just requires some effort and money. If Rebecca Bell-Metereau and Judy Jennings win their elections, the anti-education faction will be in a minority on the Texas State Board of Education. The districts for these elections are huge and gerrymandered, but they are winnable.

Complaining about the backwardness of the state that gave America Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins and the president who signed the Civil Rights Act might be tempting, but it would be more useful to participate in the electoral process. In 2008, most of the worst incumbents on the Board of Education had no opponents.

The reason the extremists control the board is that they always run, they always get out their votes and they always fund their candidates. They exercise their rights as citizens, and it's our choice whether we do so too.

Victor Yodaiken

Austin , TX

Mar 24 2010 - 7:42am

Web Letter

I think what is also disturbing about this on many levels is that this Texas book isn't going just to Texas. It would be helpful to other readers to make it clear that this textbook is in many ways a "national textbook."

The monopoly of the text book "creators" ensures that there is no competion; it is nearly "one for all."

Please add links to explain that to newcomers and the uniformed. (I am a subscriber, thanks!)

Kit Burns

Tacoma, WA

Mar 23 2010 - 10:15pm

Web Letter

This is not the curriculum I endured when I was in school. I was born and raised in Texas. Attended a Texas Recognized school, and one of the best school districts in the Houston area. I am also a staunch athiest, and I am a mixed racially, half white and half Mexican. I had many science and literature teachers who wanted us to expand our minds, and everything I learned was typical of those of family members who lived outside of Texas.

I fear for my younger sister. She's only in elementary school, and if this is what she is expected to learn in middle school and high school, than that's incredibly unacceptable. It makes me fear that my ultraconservative stepfather will hold just that much more sway over my sister's freedom of thought. If you are taught a certain way, it is incredibly hard to turn around and think differently.

I did not have that kind of education from my schools. I had many teachers who took the curriculum as a guide and gave us many other books to read that were not necessarily pertinent to the school's curriculum.

I will definitely not let my children be taught in this way. I want them to be free-thinkers and have their own mindset on how life is. But I want them to know true history, the bad and good.

I hope much of this will not come to fruition. If so, there will be one less Texan moving towards better schools!

Valarie Morris

Lubbock and Houston, Texas

Mar 23 2010 - 8:46am

Web Letter

Something a journalist with an interest in Texas might wish to twist: before he so generously gave them healthcare, Barack Obama kneecapped the working poor, in order to obtain the money necessary to supply bankers with a fix.

J.E. Bernecky

Westover, PA

Mar 23 2010 - 3:02am

Web Letter

Perhaps it would be best if Texas were once again its own separate country, as many Texicans, including the Governor apparently wish. Those remaining citizens of the State of Texas who disagree with the new "history" might consider remaining citizens of the United States and choose not to join the renewed Republic(ans) of Texas. Those who become the twenty-first-century Texicans can "Remember the Alamo" fondly while forgetting that Santa Ana won that battle.

George Mendelson

Kill Devil Hills, NC

Mar 19 2010 - 5:50pm

Web Letter

This is a great opportunity to bring up the concept of home-schooling. I'm a Libertarian and a member of "Separation of School and State." Texas is definitely attempting to rewrite history, no doubt about it. But I grew up in New York State. I was told that the United States never meddled in other countries' affairs. I was told that in war, Americans don't commit atrocities. I was told that in the Spanish-American war, we were defending freedom. Lenin's quip, "A lie told often enough becomes the truth."

Folks on the left should join conservatives and libertarians and subscribe to a separation of school and state. If you can, consider home-schooling your children. My cousin home-schooled her son and it worked out great. Granted, people think "conservative Christians" when it comes to home schooling, but many of the original home-schoolers were hippies. Time for the left to reclaim this area.

Ken Mitchell

Newburgh, NY

Mar 19 2010 - 1:10pm

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