Texas lawmakers mull stripping education board of authority over curriculum

Four Texas state senators, fed up with curriculum and textbook battles at the State Board of Education, pitched legislation April 14 that would strip the board of its authority over curriculum and textbooks and transfer it to the commissioner of education, reports the Dallas Morning News. Sens. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, and Kip Averitt, R-Waco, told the Senate Education Committee that the state board has become too politicized and is not always focused on what is best for schoolchildren. Debate on the bill comes just weeks after the board clashed over science curriculum standards and how evolution should be taught in high school biology classes. Social conservatives on the board unsuccessfully pushed to require that students be taught the "strengths and weaknesses" of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution and other scientific theories. Seliger said the "political nature" of the elected board often "results in infighting and partisan beliefs becoming part of the public school curriculum"–as exemplified in the battle over science standards. "The debate went on with almost no discussion of children," he said. "The fact is there is nothing that makes the board particularly qualified to choose curriculum materials and textbooks."

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