New SBOE Members Brings Numerous Amendments at First Meeting; Reject View That SBOE Should Have Less Amendments In Meetings

Jan 19, 2011
Topic: SBOE , Update

6:3o p.m.  A  lot of focus on votes for Vice Chairman and Secretary of SBOE:

Republicans Bob Craig and Ken Mercer are nominated.

Bob Craig is elected as a few Republicans team up with all the Democrats: 9-6.  Voting for Craig: Farney, Clayton, Ratliff, Hardy, Craig, Knight, Allen, Berlanga, Soto,

Mary Helen Berlanga (most liberal Democrat) and Terri Leo (conservative Republican) are both nominated for Secretary position.

Berlanga is elected, as a few Republicans team up with all the Democrats.  Voting for Berlanga: Republicans-Craig, Ratliff, Hardy, Clayton, and Democrats-Soto, Knight, Allen, Berlanga.

Let me clear, I don’t have a problem with SBOE members offering amendments they believe are important.  They have been elected to do this work, they have that right.  However, others, particularly Austin liberals have been very critical of only certain SBOE members for offering numerous amendments and motions and causing meetings to be lengthy.  They have said that some of the new SBOE members are a reflection of voters wanting the process to be different at the SBOE, in their mind.  Now that new SBOE members are here and they also are offering amendment after amendment, where’s the criticism from the left? Or is there a double-standard?

5:29 p.m.  New member Garza, offers his first motion/amendment, I believe, to adopt a rule discussed earlier in the meeting.

5:24 p.m.  Member Ratliff has another amendment/new rule to propose.  Wants to cap extension of the length of the TEKS.

5:23 p.m.  Chair Gail Lowe offers amendments recommended by parliamentarian.

5:07 p.m.  SBOE member Ratliff has another amendment/new rule to offer.  Wants updated fiscal impact statement every time SBOE members make updates to TEKS through amendment, etc.  Current fiscal impact statements already exists for standards.

Pat Hardy really does not like this idea, challenges Ratliff to show that it is needed.  Sounds like Pat and maybe other members are not happy that members who have only been sitting on the SBOE for a few hours are offering amendment after amendment to SBOE operating procedures, etc.  Amendment fails, 7-7.

4:43 p.m.  SBOE member Soto has yet another amendment to operating rules to offer.  Wow, this meeting could go long with lots of amendments, new rules being proposed by new SBOE members.

Proposed new rule: Board members report to the office of State Board of Education all meetings, location, date, nature, etc. with employees of textbook publishers.

Soto gets almost no support for this (except Member Knight), so he withdraws his motion.

4:15 p.m.  SBOE member Soto wants to turn over power to so-callend “scholarly” sources to determine issues that generate contrasting views in  in history.  Soto’s motion goes down, he may have been the only one to support it.  New Republican members Farney, Ratliff, Clayton, all against “scholarly” effort. 

Looks like this was a real “want” for the Austin liberals.  I wouldn’t be suprised if they were working closely with Soto to advance this.  Once again, they lose.  And they may have only received one vote.  Ouch.

4:00 p.m.  New SBOE member Soto makes motion to strike board rules that give SBOE’s power to pass resolution against textbooks that have “blantantly offensive language or illustrations” and against textbooks that do not promote “patriotism” and “present positive aspeccts of the United States and its heritage.”

Democrat SBOE member Soto’s effort to take away the SBOE’s specific ability to protect positive aspects of the United States and it’s heritage and “patriotism”, has failed, by a vote of 6-9.

2:40 p.m.  Cargill proposes rule giving the Chair discretion to prevent perpetual signs and displays be permanently displayed, but certainly allowed when that SBOE member is speaking, they can use their props.   I would think that the Chair already has such discretion if it becomes a problem.  Member Gail Lowe makes it clear that this would have no impact on t-shirts worn by people. 

Only posters, displays and props would be subject to this rule.  Sounds to me like the Chair already has this power and discretion.  And per the amendment this could still happen, but SBOE member would have to ask for permission from Chair.

SBOE member Garza asks if he could essentially erect/construct an altar to the Virgin Mary with vases and lights, to advocate his religious beliefs, and that would be okay.   YES-that i want to see.

Ratliff offers an amendment to have this discretion be limited to actions of SBOE members.  It passes.

Amendment passes, and full language passes with Cargill language and Ratliff the leading the effort to amend the language and carry the support.

Language is similar to House and Senate Rules.  I am all for more free speech, but I do see the value in having policies similar to the House and Senate.  If i had it my way, I would be for less restrictions of free speech on this in the SBOE, House, and Senate, but being consistent with House and Senate is relevant.

1:55 p.m.  SBOE member Knight offers amendment to operating rules, dies for lack of a second.

New SBOE member Farney offers amendment to operating rules, member Hardy disagrees.  Amendment would mandate that relevant qualifications of a member be considered in committee assignment decisions.  Amendment passes.  Cargill makes motion to amend the amendment, change “shall” to “may”.  Cargill amendment passes.

SBOE member Bradley moves to  strike consideration of “ethnicity and gender balance” when making committee assignments.  Seniority would be allowed to be used as criteria.

This is same policy used in the Texas House when the Speaker of the House assigns committees.  Speaker considers seniority and nothing else, at least he/she is not specifically required to be rule.

Amendment fails.  Looked like a tie vote, 7-7.  Will verify later.  No record vote was requested.  So SBOE will choose committees differently than the Texas House and Senate. 

Interesting discussion.

So this begs the question, why doesn’t the Texas House and Senate specifically take “ethnicity and gender balance” into account when making committee assignments?

1:24 p.m.  SBOE member Cargill to deliver opening prayer; draws from long history of Election Sermon in United State government history.  Reads from Proverb 8:16.

1:10 p.m. SBOE Swearing in begins with numerous notable elected officials in attendance.  Senator Florence Shapiro gives opening remarks and administers the oath office.

SBOE-“You’ve done you’re job.  Now it’s the Legislature’s turn.”  “I will ensure that the Permanent School Fund will be used to purchase instructional materials.”  “This fund will not raided on my watch.”

Also in attendance, Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hect, House Appropriations Chairman Jim Pitts, and former Lt. Gov. Bill Ratliff.

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Today, the new members of the State Board of Education will be sworn in.  The new members of the SBOE are (who were not previously on the SBOE):

Republicans:  Marsha Farney, Thomas Ratliff, George Clayton, Charlie Garza.  There are seven (7) other Republicans on the SBOE who either won re-election, or were not up for election.

Democrat:  Michael Soto.  There are three (3) other Democrats on the SBOE who either won re-election, or were not up for election.

SBOE members Thomas Ratillf (R-Mt. Pleasant) and Mavis Knight (D-Dallas) plan to offer amendments.  At least one amendment could involve an attempt to open the Social Studies issue up for debate again.  This issue received a final vote last May, 9-5.  Of the five that voted against the Social Standards, one of those votes is gone, as Democrat Rene Nunez lost to Republican Charlie Garza.

We’ll be at the meeting today which starts at 1 p.m. and we’ll be posting updates.  The SBOE also has meetings on Thursday and Friday, which we plan to attend.

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