While there was a fair amount of attention paid to Governor Rick Perry’s choice to be Commission of the Texas Education Agency, almost unnoticed was his selection of the second in command. She is Lizzette Gonzalez-Reynolds.
She worked as a legislative associate for then-Governor George W. Bush and after he became President, she was rewarded with an appointment as the U.S. Department of Education’s regional representative in Texas (that is a political, not an educational, appointment). In 2007, she gained minor notoriety when she worked in an advisory capacity for the Texas Education Agency; she called for the director of the science curriculum to resign because of an email she distributed.
This is the description of the controversy on the wikipedia site:
In October 2007, Eugenie Scott, the executive director of the National Center for Science Education, sent an email to a list of addressees including Christine Comer, then Director of Science in the curriculum division of the Texas Education Agency. It announced a talk in Austin by one of the Center’s directors, Barbara Forrest. Forrest was a key expert witness for the plaintiffs in the 2005 Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District trial, who argued successfully that the concept of Intelligent Design is not scientific, but is a trojan horse for religious teaching in public schools. Comer received the email on October 26, 2007, and forwarded it to some acquaintances, adding only the text “FYI”.
Reynolds received a copy of the email and forwarded it to Comer’s bosses less than two hours after Comer sent it. Reynolds cover text is quoted in part: “This is highly inappropriate. I believe this is an offense that calls for termination or, at the very least, reassignment of responsibilities. This is something that the State Board, the Governor’s Office and members of the Legislature would be extremely upset to see because it assumes this is a subject that the agency supports.” Comer was subsequently asked to resign her employment.
What is most amazing is that Texas does include evolution in its science curriculum. But apparently Ms. Gonzalez-Reynolds thought it was inappropriate to call attention to that fact.
And now she is the second-in-command at the TEA, serving a man known for his advocacy of vouchers and charters.
Fasten your seat belts, fellow Texans, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride.