The Texas GOP Convention, Public Education and Efforts to Stop Common Core
There are a number of hot button issues happening outside of the 2014 Texas Republican State Convention; however, a huge one is playing out inside the Fort Worth Convention Center -- public education.
The "Educating Our Children" subcommittee has been working hard to create the kind of resolution that could put Texas in the cat bird seat to take down the Common Core. For starters, the resolution would add the necessary punch to enforce the existing Common Core shield law, HB 462, passed by the 83rd Legislature in 2013.
This is critical at a time when Common Core conferences and materials continue to seep into Texas classrooms, as Breitbart Texas has reported. A dynamic final subcommittee resolution is something that its members are hopeful will be added to the Republican platform to stop those independent school districts that do not comply to TEKS but align to Common Core, CSCOPE or other international related content.
A total of 15 presenters provided testimony to the education subcommittee. This included concerned parents, taxpayers and conservative grassroots education advocates came to present solutions, some of which have been adopted since folded into the working version of the education resolution.
Parents like Jennifer Frank from the Fort Worth Area. She told Breitbart Texas, "This resolution actually would give teeth and meaning to the law by actually enforcing the law. Any parent that sees any of these (Common Core) standards and practices being used will be able to take concrete action."
Frank was excited that some of her testimony was taken into consideration for the resolution. She said it is even more important that whatever the resulting final version of the education subcommittee resolution, the resolution itself makes it into the state GOP platform because, she said, if it gets that far, it stands a good chance of making it into the 2015 legislative session.
Frank also said that the impetus for her getting involved politically came as the result of "finding out that Governor Perry actually outlawed Common Core last summer." She said, that even though she thought there was no Common Core in Texas, "I kept hearing all of these stories from Northwest Fort Worth, Denton and Crowley school districts where parents were complaining at school board meetings that Common Core was ruining their kids' education."
Likewise, seasoned conservative education watchdog Bill Ames was a subcommittee presenter this week. Ames was previously appointed by former State Board of Education (SBOE) chairman Don Mc Leroy in 2009 as a member of a panel commissioned to review and revise the 11th grade U.S. history
standards that were part of the Texas social studies curriculum. Many of Ames recommendations became part of the final standards. He is also the author of the "Texas Trounces the Left's War on History," the book in which Ames told the story of how progressive educators and the left-wing media attempted to hijack American history, and how SBOE conservatives and hundreds of mainstream Texans rejected the attempt.
Breitbart Texas spoke with Ames who said that he presented resolution testimony that, if included, will result in the oversight legislation to ensure that local school districts teach a tradition academic and knowledge-based curriculum. That means, each school district in Texas must certify that it is TEKS compliant, the cost
of non-compliance would be the reduction of state spending for that district.
For his recommendations to the education subcommittee resolution, Ames sourced the Texas Education Code 28.002 (h), which in part states "A primary purpose of the public school curriculum is to prepare thoughtful active citizens who understand the importance of patriotism and can function productively in a free enterprise society with appreciation for the basic democratic values of our state and our national heritage..."
These are only in the proposal stages. The resolution will continue to change throughout the subcommittee process. For example, in a more recent version the resolution, a possible outcome for a Texas school district using the national or international core curriculum, or using and/or modifying college entrance exams to align with national core standards would make it a violation of HB 462 where a district would lose all state funding until the curriculum is removed permanently from a school's classrooms.
Breitbart Texas spoke to education subcommittee chairwoman Susan Fletcher, from Senate District 8, who emphasized everything remains a proposed plank until it is agreed upon and they move through the ratification process. All proposed planks await ratification by a temporary platform committee, followed by a permanent platform committee and which then goes to approval from the entire delegation.
Until then, there's a lot of topics for the subcommittee to tackle. From TEKS compliance and educational content standard issues, to college tuition requirements, parental rights, K-12 and higher education funding, local control, special needs, American identity, English Language learner assistance, career and technology education, college tuition requirements, parental rights, and equal access to state education grants for Texas students based on measurable criteria are also under subcommittee discussion are all on the proposed plank list.
"Texas Republicans on this subcommittee are taking a hard stand against Common Core. I hope that by the end of the convention, we can say that all grassroots Republicans took a hard stand!," Fletcher added.
Fletcher, who is the Republican pick for Collin County Commissioner, Precinct 1, will take office after the November general election, according to the Texas
Local Government Code. Fletcher runs unopposed on the ballot.
She also told Breitbart Texas, "I am very thankful for the work of the Education subcommittee and I'm encouraged that we were able to preserve our
conservative planks and even add additional planks to strengthen our stand against this national 'Core' curricula and other harmful instructional
Fletcher added, "I believe that we must be vigilant to protect our children from any initiatives aimed at indoctrinating or conforming students to a
pre-determined position. It is critical that we eliminate the use of Common Core / CSCOPE instructional materials, as well as educate the public regarding
the dangers surrounding their use."
Other key items in the working template include supporting legislation that would prohibit non US citizens from unlawfully enrolling in free public schools, opposition to public funding of foreign charter schools, transparency and accountability; and opposition to the use of "quota systems" for college entrance admissions.
Additionally, in its support of knowledge-based education, the subcommittee is reviewing planks that oppose outcome-based learning, which according to a version of the draft "focuses on behavior modification and has the purpose of challenging the student's fixed believes and undermining parental authority." Instead, the subcommittee proposal encourages critical thinking skills based learning through logic, rhetoric an analytical sciences. These are only an overview of many planks in progress.
"We support a return to the traditional basics of reading, writing, arithmetic, and citizenship with sufficient discipline to ensure learning and quality educational assessment," Fletcher told Breitbart Texas.
On Friday, June 6, there will also be a noontime breakout session with Senator Dan Patrick (R-Houston). Patrick is currently chairman of the Texas Senate Education Committee. He is also the grassroots conservative GOP nominee for Lt. Governor.
According to Fletcher, it is the subcommittee chairs' hope that the final version of the resolution will be ratified on Saturday morning as part of the Texas GOP platform. In addition to Fletcher, Educating Our Children sub-committee members are Larry Gonzales, Senate District 52 (SD 52), Dwayne "Doc" Collins (SD2), Sharon Graves (SD3), and Morgan Graham (SD 27). Gregg County's Neal Frey, conservative Christian textbook reviewer, also provided testimony. Breitbart Texas will continue to follow this resolution.
Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.