How to Fix a Broken Board of Education

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We need to restore three basic values in order to fix the Texas State Board of Education: 1) community, 2) economy, 3) respect.

Let’s put students, teachers, and the local community back at the center of education. The State Board of Education has been micromanaging school curriculum for almost twenty years, and the results have been disastrous, putting us in 51st place in high school graduation rates in the US.

Teachers and students are tied to a grim routine of preparing for TAKS tests for most of the year, under the threat of firing or loss of school accreditation. Teacher creativity and independence are stifled and students suffer the consequences. The goals for education have been transformed from an enriching growth experience to a crippling process of teaching to the test with dumbed-down texts personally edited by a group of eight extremists on the State Board of Education. We must put teachers, students, and local communities at the center of education.

The value of economy directs us to follow the money and see how it’s being used, who’s paying for candidates and why, and how public education can support the economy and higher learning. Currently, an eight member majority of the fifteen-member board squanders millions of dollars on useless initiatives like abstinence-only education, which has been proven ineffective and even harmful. These extremists are in the pocket of private education advocates who don’t even believe public education is constitutional.

Such campaign donors take taxpayer money for their private schools and make billions of dollars from them, while funding candidates who destroy public schools in Texas and elsewhere around the country. We need a Texas State Board of Education that makes public schools an engine of the economy, coordinated with higher education and the real world of work and local communities.

The final concept of respect is an essential value for all people. Right now, incumbent Ken Mercer ignores this fundamental principle, and the board’s oversight process is broken. He bragged about giving a “spanking” to people testifying before the language review committee. To say that hard-working professionals should be spanked is a horrible insult. This nasty talk and disrespect for the women and men who testify before the board has to stop. There is no place for that kind of disrespectful talk on the State Board of Education.

We must restore the values of community, economy, and respect, in a reasoned and deliberative process that coordinates local communities, legislative bodies, public schools, universities, and the world of work. Let’s stop the nonsense now!

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2 Responses to “How to Fix a Broken Board of Education”

  1. Chris Bollinger Says:

    Hi Rebecca. For the past few summers, I have worked with high school students hoping to go to college. These young people are hard working, serious students who have a lot to overcome. They take classes with equally committed teachers who work extremely long hours. They deserve leadership that takes seriously these issues you have discussed. They deserve leadership that is more concerned with education than fostering division and animosity with policies that have been demonstrated to be ineffective. Thank you for standing up for students, for teachers, and for education. It is high time this community be treated with the respect and hard work it deserves.

    • Rebecca Bell-Metereau Says:

      I strongly believe that students will respond to a challenge, particularly if teachers engage them in learning in a way that is interactive and engaging. We don’t have to be constantly entertaining our students, but we do need to restore the sense that learning is fun. As human beings we are wired to learn, so it shouldn’t be as painful as the State Board of Education has made it for students and teachers alike. Let’s free up our teacher so that they can use their creativity and initiative to bring back a sense of excitement to the learning process. Let’s give these hard-working students the preparation they deserve for higher education and/or for the world of work.

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