Petition to Congress: Tell Texas Board of Education to fly right correctly

August 11, 2010

E-mail from the Texas Freedom Network:
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Tell Your Congress Member to Support Education over Politics

The Texas Freedom Network and the Texas Faith Network this week joined nearly two dozen national organizations in support of a resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives calling on the State Board of Education to stop playing politics with the education of Texas schoolchildren. We have signed on to a letter to U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Dallas, supporting House Resolution 1593. Congresswoman Johnson introduced the resolution in the U.S. House on July 30. The resolution, which has four other co-sponsors from Texas, calls out the state board for disregarding nearly a year’s worth of work by teachers and scholars who wrote initial drafts of new social studies curriculum standards. It also notes that more than 1,200 history scholars have warned that the heavily revised standards, which the board adopted in May, “would undermine the study of the social sciences in public schools by misrepresenting and even distorting the historical record and the functioning of United States society.”

The House resolution is available here. The letter from TFN and other organizations supporting that resolution is available here.

Take Action

Ask your U.S. House representative today to support House Resolution 1593 by Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson. You can find out who your U.S. House member is here. When you call, tell him or her:

  • Teachers and scholars should write curriculum standards and textbook requirements, not politicians.
  • Texas schools should give our schoolchildren an education based on sound scholarship that prepares them to succeed in college and their future careers. Decisions about curriculum and textbooks shouldn’t be based on the personal and political agendas of state board members.
  • Because of the size of Texas, publishers often write their textbooks to meet curriculum standards in this state and then sell them to schools across the country. Texas should be a model for good curriculum and textbooks, not a national laughingstock.

You can do three other things to stop radical members of the State Board of Education from promoting their political and personal agendas in our kids’ classrooms:

Join the Just Educate campaign, which is working to reform the State Board of Education.

Stay informed by signing up for TFN News Clips and reading our blog, TFN Insider.

Support the Texas Freedom Network by making a special gift today.

Take Action Now

Reform the State Board of Education

In the race to the future, politicians are holding our children back. Find out what you can do about it!

Tell politicians to stop promoting ideological agendas in our public schools. JUST educate the children of Texas!

Sign the petition »

Sounds good to me. Unlikely, and rare for the national Congress to urge state action — but appropriate in this case.


Historians: ‘Stop the Texas SBOE evisceration of history and social studies’

May 15, 2010

Keith Tucker, WhatNowToons.com, via Tennessee Guerrilla Women

Keith Tucker, WhatNowToons.com, via Tennessee Guerrilla Women

In a series of articles at George Mason University’s History News Network, historians from Texas and across the nation make a powerful case against the changes in social studies standards proposed by the politicians at the Texas State Board of Education.

Together, this is a powerful indictment of the actions of the SBOE, and strong repudiation of the raw political purposes and tactics employed in the War on Education by the “conservative” faction, including especially lame duck, anti-education crusader/jihadist Don McLeroy.

Texas scholars

Scholars outside of Texas

Historians can sign a petition set up for the purpose at a site that offers links to the essays, too, An Open Letter from Historians to the Texas State Board of Education.

SBOE will take up the issue again in meetings in Austin this coming week.


Cuccinelli Witch Project

May 3, 2010

So, you didn’t think the opposition to global warming was political?  You thought “skeptics” were just out to make a scientific case?

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli - campaign photo

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli - campaign photo

As the Hook explains, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has ordered the University of Virginia to turn over all records they have of research done by Michael Mann while he was at the UVA (he left five years ago for Penn State). (Civil Investigative Demand, here)

It’s a fishing expedition, the very definition of a witch hunt.  Also, as I read the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act upon which Cuccinelli bases his actions [see comments — better source here], it’s probably outside the statute of limitations.

Research that Cuccinelli has targeted to investigate  includes work Mann did with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF).  Cuccinelli probably lacks jurisdiction for much of the stuff he wants, trumped by those federal agencies.

Mann is the guy who put together the chart of all the different threads of research that show warming climate, commonly known as the “hockey stick” after Al Gore’s years of presentations on the chart and the movie, “Inconvenient Truths.”  Mann also is among those scientists in U.S. and England whose private e-mails were exposed in the breach of the e-mail servers at England’s Hadley Climate Research Unit.

Three different investigations have put Mann in the clear so far (Penn State’s .pdf of investigation results; response to Texas U.S. Rep. Joe Barton’s assault) — odd that stolen e-mails would produce doubts about the victims of the theft, but ethical standards in science research are indeed that high.  Caesar’s wife couldn’t be considered for research grants.

Why do I think the statute of limitations may apply?  Look at the law, linked above, the Fraud Against Taxpayers Act:

§ 8.01-216.9. Procedure; statute of limitations.

A subpoena requiring the attendance of a witness at a trial or hearing conducted under this article may be served at any place in the Commonwealth.

A civil action under § 8.01-216.4 or 8.01-216.5 may not be brought (i) more than six years after the date on which the violation is committed or (ii) more than three years after the date when facts material to the right of action are known or reasonably should have been known by the official of the Commonwealth charged with responsibility to act in the circumstances, but in that event no more than ten years after the date on which the violation is committed, whichever occurs last.

In any action brought under § 8.01-216.5, the Commonwealth shall be required to prove all essential elements of the cause of action, including damages, by a preponderance of the evidence.

Research at a major research institution like a big, public university involves many layers of regulation and bureaucratic checking.  Generally the university’s research office will require adherence to the school’s ethical code and all state laws up front, and then the auditors check the money flow and research activities through the project.  There is a final sign off at most schools, which would qualify as “the date when facts material to the right of action are known or reasonably should have been known by the official of the Commonwealth charged with responsibility to act in the circumstances.”

Cuccinelli is sending a clear signal to researchers that they are unwelcome in Virginia if their research doesn’t square with his politics — and his politics are weird. Watch to see what the response of the University is, especially if their delivery of documents doesn’t put this witch hunt to bed.

[Update notice:  The text of the law noting the statute of limitations was updated on May 5, to show application to § 801-216.4 as well as § 801-216.5]

Other sources to check:

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