Commentary: Texas Board of Education must stop politicizing standards

It says something about public frustration with the State Board of Education that Republican voters this month replaced one of its most extreme members, former chairman Don McLeroy, with Thomas Ratliff, whose father, Bill Ratliff, was a voice of reason when he served in the Texas Senate.

The way the board has turned setting education standards for Texas schools into a battleground for social issues and ideological agendas isn't just distressing. It's a disservice to taxpayers and the very children whose education needs to be improved, not politicized.

The social studies curriculum standards, on which the board is supposed to take a preliminary vote today, is the latest example.

The Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills provides a framework from which districts develop the curricula their teachers follow. The TEKS also provides guidelines for textbook publishers.

The skirmishing started last year, when a pair of religious conservatives appointed by board members as "expert reviewers" dissed the historical significance of the late Justice Thurgood Marshall, the U.S. Supreme Court's first African-American, and labor leader Cesar Chavez.

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