SBOE Focus is on Marsha Farney: Important State Board of Education Vote Today on Curriculum & “Experts”

Jan 21, 2011
Topic: SBOE , Update

11:59 a.m.  Hardy amendment passes, 8-7.  Against: Rs-Farney, Ratliff, Craig; All Ds.

For: Rs-Hardy, Clayton, Leo, Cargill, Garza, Bradley, Mercer, Lowe

11:56 a.m.  Discussion still continues…

11:07 a.m.  Member Craig offers amendment, with specific qualifications that an “expert” must have.  Member Hardy is offering an amendment, to say that “expert” can have a degree in any field as long as their experience relates to the relevant field.  Seems a little more reasonable.  Board is discussing the wording.

“And have demostrated his/her expertise  in the subject area” and taught or worked in the field.

10:50 a.m.  Board is taking a break, so people can basically strategize on this issue.  Bob Craig is working with Member Berlanga and Member Soto to get their support for some long amendment he has written up.  Details coming.

Leo language is approved, 12-3,  Ratliff, Soto and Knight vote against.

9:56 a.m.  Vote will come soon on “expert” issue.   Issue is up.  SBOE member Leo is offering amendment to revisit the committee vote from yesterday, now that the issue has to be approved by the full board.

Member Soto is struggling/reaching to try to force the “spirit” of some Attorney General opinion on this issue, an AG opinion that deals with an issue that Soto himself admits is different than the issue before the board.  The AG opinion deals with majority voting issues.  He is now trying to say that the A.G. opinion should be followed in “spirit” because it is a part of the “common law.”  Sorry Mr. Soto (who just admitted he’s not a lawyer), an A.G. opinion is not a part of “common law.”   An A.G. opinion is not even considered precedent that courts must follow.  It is what we lawyers call “persuasive authority”, and it is very persausive, I will admit.  But it is not common law.

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Today, when the Texas State Board of Education meets, they will take a critical vote on whether or not SBOE members have the freedom to decide how they pick their own “experts”.   The Texas House and Senate do not have such rules, but some people think the SBOE should.

Yesterday, in the SBOE Committee on Instruction, liberal Democrat Mary Helen Berlanga and two new Republicans, Marsha Farney and George Clayton voted to put in place new bureaucratic restrictions on who SBOE members could nominate as their “expert” reviewers, to review proposed changes to Texas curriculum standards, like Social Studies and Science.  Conservative Republicans, Terri Leo and Barbara Cargill voted against the new rule.

Any qualified person nominated by two of more SBOE members must be added to the expert review panel.

The push to control how the SBOE members select “experts” is a major effort for the Austin liberals.  It is unfortunate and troublesome that new Republican members, Farney and Clayton are siding with a liberal Democrat, Berlanga, on this issue.  Farney and Clayton are helping further the liberal agenda and attack on conservative SBOE members, whether they know it or not. 

Currently, if an expert is nominated by two SBOE members, the SBOE cannot vote to reject that expert.  Farney, Clayton and Berlanga changed that rule as well.  So now SBOE members will no longer have freedom to select their own expert, their decision will be controlled by the will the SBOE members, even though each member only gets to have one expert. 

Can you imagine Chairman Rob Eissler of the House Education committee basically getting vetoed by the rest of his committee by other House members for an expert that he brings to testify on education legislation?   This shows major distrust and lack of respect for fellow SBOE members.  This is a very serious statement being made by two SBOE members who have sat on the SBOE for only two days.

I made it clear to Dr. Farney yesterday, the history of this issue and the significance of this decision, in effort to give her more insight on her decision.  Let’s hope she reconsiders her decision before the full vote today in front of all 15 members of the SBOE.  If you live in her district, I invite you to reach out to her.  http://www.tea.state.tx.us/index4.aspx?id=3715

Her district home is in Georgetown/Williamson County, but stretches all the way across central Texas into part of the greater Houston and Fort Bend County area.

Dr. Farney has stated today that she supported the change yesterday to bring the issue up, that she didn’t necessarily agree with all the language.

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