I thought a little bit before posting this article, but I think its worth posting.
These are the really notable parts of the article, but you can read the rest here: chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/6514838.html.
AUSTIN — Critics who engineered the recent ouster of State Board of Education Chairman Don McLeroy, in part because of his strong religious beliefs, could end up with someone even more outspoken in her faith.
Cynthia Dunbar, R-Richmond, who advocated more Christianity in the public square last year with the publication of her book, One Nation Under God, is among those that Gov. Rick Perry is considering to lead the State Board of Education, some of her colleagues say.
In a book published last year, Dunbar argued the country’s founding fathers created “an emphatically Christian government” and that government should be guided by a “biblical litmus test.” She endorses a belief system that requires “any person desiring to govern have a sincere knowledge and appreciation for the Word of God in order to rightly govern.”
Also in the book, she calls public education a “subtly deceptive tool of perversion.”
The establishment of public schools is unconstitutional and even “tyrannical,” she wrote, because it threatens the authority of families, granted by God through Scripture, to direct the instruction of their children.
Dunbar home-schooled her own children.
Dunbar, whose district runs from outside Houston to Austin, said she expresses her views so constituents know exactly where she stands.
“I believe constituents deserve to know our thoughts, which is why I have always been boldly transparent,” she said.
But if she is chosen to chair the board, Dunbar said, she would “play a different role” by focusing on leadership. She is confident she could bring the various board factions together.
“I would strive to be just, merciful and humble in my service,” Dunbar said of a potential promotion to board chair.
The Texas Senate six weeks ago refused to confirm Perry’s appointment of McLeroy, R-Bryan, whose leadership attracted national attention for the board’s handling of evolution while adopting new science curriculum standards.
Perry’s appointment of Dunbar would send a statement “that the governor shares her shocking hostility toward public education,” said Kathy Miller, president of the Texas Freedom Network, an organization that monitors the State Board of Education.
“Just as bad, he would be siding with a faction of self-righteous politicians on the board who have made it crystal clear that they believe the only real Christians are the ones who agree with them,” Miller said. “If the governor really decides that selling out our kids like this is a good re-election strategy, then this state has an even bigger problem than we thought.”
Whoever Perry selects will fill the duration of McLeroy’s term and continue to lead the board until another gubernatorial appointment in 2011.
There’s more to the article, but it goes off into other directions. I find this really upsetting, on several levels.
First, I don’t think its appropriate in any way to select a woman who has homeschooled her kids and has never worked in a school, or even as a superintendent or an assistant superintendent, to run every school in the state of Texas. That’s eminently foolish.
Secondly, it seems equally inane to put a woman who hates public schools in charge of public schools. Just as you would not put a pacifist in charge of the army, you should not put an opponent of the very existence of a public school system, upon which millions of children across the state of Texas rely, in charge of those same public schools which she wishes were destroyed.
Thirdly, Mrs. Dunbar’s position on Christianity in the public sector is somewhat worrying. She has argued that a biblical litmus test should be required for anyone who wants to govern in America. In a state where 33 school districts offer bible study courses (and some of those districts require it as a mandatory course), it seems rather ridiculous to select as the secretary of education someone who feels that the Bible should be a litmus test of citizenship. These courses have already come under attack for shoving forward a denominational and political interpretation of the Bible, and it seems that Mrs. Dunbar would desire that they be more so.
Fourthly and lastly, Mrs. Dunbar’s own website identifies her as a member of the Texas State Board of Education. She states as her main objective the enhancement of the Board’s authority to review and reject textbooks that promote “hidden socialistic, humanistic agendas”. This is a fairly inflammatory statement in and of itself, but it has to be combined with some particularly Texan history. The Texas review process has been full of censorship. For example, the following changes were forced upon a social studies textbook in 1996:
- Discussion of the “cruelty of slavery” was cut, because the reviewers felt it was overkill.
- A picture of the “American family” was of an African-American, not a Caucasian family. This was changed under pressure.
- Discussion of endangered species, homelessness, and other social problems were omitted from the book, again under pressure.
- This last change failed, but was attempted nonetheless. The Board tried to force the textbook publishers to replace a discussion of the geological age of the earth with biblical geneaology only.
Of course, Mrs. Dunbar was not on the review board in 1996, but her statement clearly aligns her with those from that bloc that remain in power. The Texas review process has notoriously been that way for years and years and years, and it exercises inordinate power (the size of Texas helps determine what textbooks are used across the Southwest).