Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Crucial State Board of Education District 10 Runoff Election

"All In Perspective" column for this week.  Published in the Georgetown Advocate, Hill Country News, and Jarrell Star Ledger. 

Although a growing number of families are opting for education alternatives, nearly 90% of America's children still attend public schools. Every day, more than 55 million students will spend most of their day having their hearts and minds shaped by the curriculum and staff of a public school. What is taught in the classroom today will impact society for decades to come, and consequently every American should be concerned about state of public education.

Although public schools are governed by democratic process, voters display a shocking lack of interest in education-related elections. Local school board elections are often held separately from higher profile contests, and voter participation languishes between 4 and 8 percent. However, even in races for the powerful Texas State Board of Education, voters and media pay scant attention to candidates who will exert enormous influence over our children. In addition to managing the Permanent School Fund, elected members of the SBOE approve charter schools and set curriculum standards for textbooks and testing. Since Texas is one of the largest consumers of educational textbooks, these standards can have national influence.

So what about that curriculum? Many pundits claim that public education should be somehow morally 'neutral,' but a truly values neutral curriculum is simply impossible. As much as some secularists would like to pretend there is no difference between right and wrong, they merely replace traditional values with a 'new' moral code. From their own sense of what is 'right' or 'fair,' they assert that society should 'tolerate,' (i.e., never criticize) the 'new' values. In this alternate worldview, the new 'good' includes things like abortion, labor unions, and government management of all resources. The new 'bad' includes public prayer, chastity, and traditional marriage. Education is probably the most important front line in the culture war, and the reality is that a set of values will be embedded into public school curriculum. The question is, whose values?

Voters do have a say in 'whose values,' and this year we select new representatives to the Texas SBOE. Locally, Republicans return to the polls this month for a runoff election between Tom Maynard and Rebecca Osborne, and since the district leans Republican (and the Democrat candidate is extremely left-wing,) the GOP nominee is favored to win in November. While most voters are focused on the Cruz/Dewhurst senate race, it is imperative that we look carefully at the SBOE candidates.

Candidate Tom Maynard taught for13 years, has served as a local school board trustee, and is now the Executive Director of the Texas FFA. At FFA, Maynard oversees educational programs for more than 84,000 students, and has been recognized for his successful leadership. His compelling personal story includes a childhood spent at Cal Farley's Boys Ranch, and Maynard exemplifies the kind of values that foster successful adults and responsible citizens. The experience and wisdom he would bring to the SBOE has swept the endorsements of conservative community leaders, GOP members of the current SBOE, and the Republican state representatives of the district.

Round Rock teacher Rebecca Osborne is something of an enigma. According to public records, she affiliated with the Democrat Party as recently as 2008. Although she did garner a few GOP endorsements, other endorsements are curious, (such as the editor of a magazine regarding Austin's 6th Street rock scene, CONTENT WARNINGRank and Revue). Her financial contributors include known Democrats, and Osborne has refused to answer candidate surveys from prominent conservative organizations.

Early voting continues through July 27, Election day is July 31. Voter turnout is projected to be dismal, so a handful of votes could make the difference. I strongly urge all concerned voters to make time to participate in this crucial election. We need solid, conservative leaders on the Texas SBOE, who will take a stand for the values that have made this country great. Our future depends on it.

Polling Locations and Times:  http://www.wilco.org/CountyDepartments/Elections/tabid/450/Default.aspx 

No comments: