Archives for category: Texas

Thanks to reader Kathyirwin1 for bringing this article to my attention. Egged on by Governor Gregg Abbott and legislator Matt Krause (who circulated a list of 850 books that should be removed from public school libraries, most because they deal with race, sexuality or inequality), critics are now targeting the books in the public libraries.

The public library in Llano County closed for three days while librarians reviewed their holdings. Libraries in other counties saw challenges to books that conservatives want removed from shelves.

Local public libraries in Texas, including those in Victoria, Irving and Tyler, are fielding a flurry of book challenges from local residents. While book challenges are nothing new, there has been a growing number of complaints about books for libraries in recent months. And the fact that the numbers are rising after questions are being raised about school library content seems more than coincidental, according to the Texas Library Association.

“I think it definitely ramped it up,” said Wendy Woodland, the TLA’s director of advocacy and communication, of the late October investigation into school library reading materials launched by state Rep. Matt Krause in his role as chair of the House Committee on General Investigating.

In response to Krause’s inquiry, Gov. Greg Abbott tapped the Texas Education Agency to investigate the availability of “pornographic books” in schools. In the weeks since, school districts across the state have launched reviews of their book collections, and state officials have begun investigating student access to inappropriate content…

In Victoria, about 100 miles southeast of San Antonio, Dayna Williams-Capone says the number of complaints about books is the most she’s seen in her nearly 13 years working at the Victoria Public Library.

In August, Williams-Capone, the director of library services in Victoria, said her office received about 40 formal requests for review of books, primarily books for children and young adults that touch on topics of same-sex relationships, sexuality and race.

After Williams-Capone and her staff reviewed the requests, they decided to keep the books in the library. Residents who filed the complaints pushed forward, appealing the decision to the library’s advisory board for about half of the books, Williams-Capone said.

Last Wednesday, the library’s board voted not to remove the books from library shelves.

Most of the complaints are directed at books that feature same-sex relationships.

Wendy Woodland of the Texas Library Association said that:

“These efforts to mute or censor diverse voices in books is part of the just overall extreme divisiveness in our country that was really just exacerbated by the pandemic, [and] the actions taken by Rep. Krause and others have added fuel to that,” Woodland said.

She understands there will be those who may not like all of the books in a library. That’s not the point of a public library, she said.

“No book is right for everyone, but one book can make a big difference in one person’s life,” she said. “That’s what libraries are about — providing those windows and doors and mirrors to the community.”

The IDEA charter chain is one of the largest and most aggressive in Texas. Betsy DeVos showered more than $200 million on IDEA to help it grow faster and to expand in other states. But IDEA, with so much state and federal money coming in, developed a taste for luxury. Its executives and board planned to lease a private jet for $2 million a year, but the publicity put the kibosh on that plan. The company also had box seats for professional basketball games in San Antonio. In the wake of bad publicity, the founder of IDEA decided it was time to mosey on, and he did so with a $1 million golden parachute. The corporation was taken over by the other co-founder and a new chief financial officer, but the board asked them to resign and they did.

Recently, Texans learned that IDEA bought a hotel for about $1 million. The state Attorney General was looking into this, and the press wanted more information about why a charter chain bought a hotel. A local newspaper–the Progress Times in Mission, Texas– reached out to IDEA and asked for copies of the documents involved in the purchase of the hotel.

IDEA claimed it had identified 56,386 documents responsive to the request.

To process the request, IDEA asked the Progress Times to pay $5,830.60. The total included $5,638.60 for copies, $160 for labor and $32 for overhead.

To avoid paying thousands for copies, the Progress Times asked to view the documents. IDEA responded by requesting a decision from the Attorney General’s Office.

The Attorney General said that some of those documents could be released to the newspaper. But now IDEA is suing the Attorney General to block the release of the documents.

Do you know of any school districts that bought a hotel? Business as usual for IDEA.

Since this post was written in Texas by a Texan, you may have a clue about what these diverse phenomena have in common: They are sources of fear, anxiety, propaganda, and scare tactics used cynically to stir up the passions of voters. The article was written by Dr. Charles Luke of Pastors for Texas Children, a stalwart supporter of public schools.

Dr. Luke writes:

What do masks, library books, critical race theory (CRT), and transgender rights have in common? While this may sound like the beginning of a really bad joke, these are all issues that local school boards across the nation hear about frequently from their constituents. The concerns about these issues aren’t always expressed in the nicest ways, either. In fact, angry expressions over these issues have led to death threats and harassment, leading some school board members to request police protection or to resign their positions. Commonly dubbed “culture war issues” because they are highly politicized, school board disruption has gotten so bad that Saturday Night Live did a skit about it.

In Texas, it’s not just concerned citizens that are complaining. Politicians are cashing in on the fears of their right-wing base by issuing edicts, holding town halls, and leading charges against school districts. State Rep. Matt Krause, Chair of the House Committee on General Investigating, notified the Texas Education Agency that he is “initiating an inquiry into Texas school district content,” according to an article and an Oct. 25 letter obtained by The Texas Tribune. Krause included a list of 850 titles that he believes some people may find objectionable. Krause was then running for Texas Attorney General in a crowded field of candidates but has since dropped out.

Not to be outdone, Gov. Greg Abbott issued his own edict about library books – but to the wrong people. In a November 1, 2021 letter to the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB), he reminded the organization that their members have a collective responsibility to determine if obscene materials exist in school libraries and to remove any such content. When TASB Executive Director Dan Troxell informed Governor Abbott that TASB is merely a school trustee membership organization and has no regulatory authority over schools, Abbott responded by accusing the organization of abdicating their responsibility in the matter and directed the Texas Education Agency, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, and the State Board of Education to address the issue by developing standards to “prevent the presence of pornography and obscene content in Texas public schools, including in school libraries.”

A rightwing think-tank (the Texans for Public Policy Priorities) has already sent out a fundraising appeal, hoping to raise $1.2 million dollars to institute what they call “massive education freedom reforms” by mobilizing 10,000 citizens in each of 60 legislative swing districts in order to “break the indoctrination of our children from Critical Race Theory, ‘gender fluidity’, and socialism.” TPPF claims to already have one donor that has provided $600,000 (rumored to be Tim Dunn of Empower Texans fame.

Read on to learn about the latest zany tactics of Texas Republicans, who are expert at campaigning on lies and fear.

The right-wingers have a goal: power. The power to destroy public schools and replace them with private alternatives.

These efforts in Texas follow a national push by extremist politics to take over school boards based on allegations that districts are teaching critical race theory. The Center for Renewing America, run by former Trump administration official Russ Vought, distributes a toolkit that encourages conservatives to “reclaim” their schools by taking over local school boards through campaigns focused on opposition to critical race theory. The Leadership Institute offers training on how far-right candidates can take over their school board and runs a program called Campus Reform which encourages students to “expose the leftist abuses on your campus” including the teaching of CRT.

Funded by wealthy donors and far-right-wing foundations, they seem to be having some success in Texas. In places like Cypress-Fairbanks ISD – the third-largest school district in the state – long-term and well-established trustees are being replaced over culture-war wedge issues like CRT. After a controversial “Resolution Condemning Racism” was approved by the board of trustees in September of 2020, Rev. John Ogletree – an African American – was defeated amidst allegations that the district was promoting CRT. Ogletree is the founder and pastor at the First Metropolitan Church in Houston, Texas, and the president of the board of Pastors for Texas Children (PTC) – a statewide public school advocacy group. Ogletree had been a member of the Cypress-Fairbanks ISD Board of Trustees since 2003.

Not everyone is silent about the far-right efforts. Rev. Charles Foster Johnson, Executive Director of PTC responded to the defeat of Ogletree by saying, “For Godly Christian servants like Rev. John Ogletree to be slandered with lies about his character is beyond outrageous. It is morally despicable. Rev. Ogletree is a faithful pastor who discharged his responsibility before God to call out racism. He did so with obedience and courage. It may come as a news flash to the morally confused folks at TPPF, but it is not racism to call racism for the sin it is: racism.”

According to staff writers for Reform Austin, “This appears to be a nationwide strategy by conservatives to take over school boards and cultivate a farm team of candidates for higher office.” If that’s the case, there could be plenty of opportunities for far-right candidates in 2022 to get elected. With several Texas Senators and over two-dozen House members deciding not to run again due to redistricting maps, the field could be wide open for ultra-conservative candidates launching campaigns on the back of these attacks on public schools.

What the right-wingers really want is to gin up enough anger towards public schools so that people will be willing to seek vouchers and abandon public schools. This might save money, but it would certainly be a nightmare for students and parents who want a quality education. The people stirring this pot against public schools harp on phony issues to advance privatization.

Take Governor Abbott (please). He has been Governor of Texas since 2015. Before that, he was State Attorney General from 2002 to 2015. Before that, he was on the Texas Supreme Court from 1996 to 2001. Is it credible that after 25 years in high public office, he just realized that school libraries are harboring pornography? Why didn’t he know that when he was the State Attorney General, or a member of the Supreme Court, or at some point earlier in his six years as Governor? Why, on the eve of the next gubernatorial election, did he just discover that school libraries are dangerous to young minds? Young minds are undoubtedly safer in the school library than they are at home on the Internet, where there is most certainly hardcore pornography. Will Governor Abbott tell parents to disconnect from the Internet? Of course not.

This whole propaganda campaign is a charade. It is not about making education better. It’s not about protecting youth from corrupting influences.

It is about creating a rationale to distribute public money to religious schools and private vendors.

Texans who want better education must stand up to the charlatans and drive them out of office. School boards elections are scheduled for December 13. Get out and vote for people who believe in education, reason, and thoughtfulness. Vote out the charlatans who want to destroy your schools.

Sara Stenson was a middle school librarian in Texas for many years. In this post, she calls on Governor Gregg Abbott to stop dragging school librarians into his culture wars with false and salacious claims.

She writes:

Librarians, as public servants, have no secrets. Anyone can access our online library catalogs. It is also important to note that the existence of a book in a library in no way signifies endorsement. Our job is to provide access to our communities and not only to materials which match our personal tastes or values. For example, children have access to “Mein Kampf” by Adolph Hitler in school libraries in Texas. A quick search of the Austin ISD catalog reveals that in the entire district, serving 77,000 students, four copies of “The Dream House” and three copies of “Gender Queer” are on our high school library shelves. And Austin is a liberal city. I suspect only a handful of these two titles exist in Texas school libraries….

Even the legal definition of pornography in Texas states that the term applies to “any visual or written material that depicts lewd or sexual acts and is intended to cause sexual arousal.” Neither book fits this definition.

Just because a book includes some mature content does not make it pornography. School districts have policies for dealing with book challenges, and these should be followed before any books are removed from the shelves.

Does the book have value as a whole? Does it serve certain students in the community? It depends on the local community and if the book is age-appropriate to the patrons. Do librarians make mistakes? I did. At times, I ordered books that ended up not being appropriate for my middle-school library and passed them up to high-school collections. Librarians choose books for their collections by consulting summaries and reviews in selection aids. They cannot possibly read each book entirely before it is ordered…

“The government — in this case, a public school — cannot restrict speech because it does not agree with the content of that speech,” the Bill of Rights Institute says in summarizing the case. “The decisions called libraries places for ‘voluntary inquiry’ and concluded that the school board’s ‘absolute discretion’ over the classroom did not extend to the library for that reason.” “Voluntary” is the key that protects libraries and our freedom to read.

As Kurt Vonnegut wrote in the censorship wars of his day: “If you are an American, you must allow all ideas to circulate freely in your community, not merely your own.”

Read more at: https://www.star-telegram.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/other-voices/article256049972.html#storylink=cpy

Governor Gregg Abbott wants to win the competition to be the most immoral, dishonest, loathsome, and extremist Governor in the nation.

Pastor Charles Foster Johnson, leader of Pastors for Texas Children, called out Abbott for his latest, most disgusting ploy.

Pastor Johnson writes:

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued not one but two letters this month calling for Texas public schools to “ensure no child is exposed to pornography or other inappropriate content.”

The first letter on Nov. 1 to the Texas Association of School Boards stated that “Texas public schools should not provide or promote pornographic or obscene materials to students,” and that “the organization’s members have an obligation to determine the extent to which such materials exist or are used in our schools and to remove any such content.”

Dan Troxel, executive director of the Texas Association of School Boards, responded in a Nov. 3 letter reminding the governor that his organization “has no regulatory authority over school districts and does not set the standards for instructional materials, including library books. Rather, we are a private, nonprofit membership organization focused on supporting school governance and providing cost-effective services to school districts.”

Charles Foster Johnson

Furthermore, Troxel took the opportunity to give the governor a civics lesson, informing him that the responsibility for the review of schoolbooks and materials belongs to the State Board of Education and the Texas Education Association — two organizations over which the governor himself has responsibility and authority. Both organizations are led by individuals appointed by Greg Abbott.

Presumably now embarrassed, but not to be outdone, Abbott then issued a second letter to the two bodies his appointees oversee, instructing them “to immediately develop statewide standards to prevent the presence of pornography and other obscene content in Texas public schools, including in school libraries.”

Instead of apologizing for his error in misidentifying the role of the Texas Association of School Boards, the governordoubled down on his attack on them, saying “Instead of addressing the concerns of parents and shielding Texas children from pornography in public schools, the Texas Association of School Boards has attempted to wash its hands clean of the issue by abdicating any and all responsibility in the matter. Given this negligence, the State of Texas now calls on you to do what the Texas Association of School Boards refuses to do.”

What is going on here? Why, after seven years of gubernatorial tenure, is Greg Abbott now launching a crusade against public school books? If the governor believed our Texas public schools were teaching objectionable material, why didn’t he address the issue years ago? Why is he only now concerned about it?

Here’s why: Greg Abbott knows it is open season on public schools in our current political climate, and he is cynical enough to capitalize on every single misconception of it.

“Greg Abbott knows it is open season on public schools in our current political climate, and he is cynical enough to capitalize on every single misconception of it.”

Abbott faces not one but two opponents in the upcoming primary elections next spring, former State Sen. Don Huffines of Dallas and former U.S. Congressman and state Republican Party chairman Allen West of Garland. Both are rightwing firebrands who constantly question Abbott’s conservative credentials and bona fides. And his own lieutenant governor, Dan Patrick, continues to pressure Abbott from the far right.

Nothing like a good old-fashioned book ban to throw some red meat to his right flank.

With the rampant COVID chaos afflicting our nation at this time came opportunity for well-funded forces of confusion to wreak their havoc on our most cherished institutions, including medicine, science and education

In September 2020, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, right, listens to Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, left, during a news conference where they provided an update to Texas’ response to COVID-19. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

This is what spawned the national meltdown over so-called Critical Race Theory alleged to be taught in our public schools. When cooler heads finally prevailed, one could hardly find a K-12 public educator who knew what Critical Race Theory was, much less committed to teach it. But that didn’t prevent national fringe organizations from funding the disinformation campaign against our public schools on the basis of it.

What resulted was trumped up legislation all over the country, including Texas, that was designed to put a chilling effect on any content or curriculum that addressed complex issues of race and our country’s sordid history surrounding it. Abbott and his counterpart, Lt. Gov. Patrick, pushed such a bogus bill in Texas, and it passed.

But with the 2022 election season upon us, and with chaos and confusion on the winning ticket, why let clarity and calm prevail? Having wielded the ruse of reverse racism so effectively, Abbott reached into the demagogue’s favorite bag of tricks again and found — voila! — that old saw of adolescent sexuality as his next contraption of chaos.

“Abbott reached into the demagogue’s favorite bag of tricks again and found — voila! — that old saw of adolescent sexuality as his next contraption of chaos.”

Anyone with a lick of sense knows we have long-established and effective safeguards to prevent inappropriate content in local public schools. With such content readily available on the world wide web, child protection is one of the main responsibilities of our public educators, and they discharge this moral duty with astonishing distinction.

Pastors for Texas Children sees through this stunt. We are not amused.

To imply that our public schools are centers of pornography and our educators purveyors of smut is a devil’s lie. Greg Abbott knows it. And does it anyway.

Here is the real moral crisis: The highest office in our land advancing his political ambition on the backs of dedicated, deeply moral public school teachers, who work hard all day at low pay in the work of love for our children, most of whom are poor. It is beyond cynical. It is morally reprehensible.

The de rigueur political attack on public education is based on lies. Our children suffer from it. We must find the moral courage to stop it now.

Charles Foster Johnson is founder and executive director of Pastors for Children.

Fort Worth Independent School District mounted a campaign to pass a $1.2 billion bond issue, the largest in the nation, and it passed by 57 votes, out of nearly 25,000 cast.

The successful campaign reflected the needs of the public schools and the hard work of parents and the chair of the campaign, Dr. Charles Foster Johnson of Pastors for Texas Children.

a The new money will be used to renovate the district’s middle schools, some built 70 years ago, to build a new elementary school, and to renovate others.

Dr. Johnson and his fellow clergy worked closely with parents to win support for the bond issue, as this article by Dr. Johnson shows.

Dr. Johnson wrote:

As the pandemic worsened, teachers went the extra mile, checking on the health and safety of children and often providing for students’ needs out of their own pockets. Fort Worth professional educators served as angels of mercy, especially for our poorest, most vulnerable children. Eighty-six percent of students in the district are economically disadvantaged. For many, their lifeline is their neighborhood public school.

The package is the result of years of detailed planning and careful community input. An advisory committee of educators, parents and business leaders spent more than five years assessing our facility needs. Our elected school board held thoughtful, thorough deliberations.

This thorough due diligence is one reason why the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and Fort Worth Metropolitan Black Chamber of Commerce all endorse this bond.

Why now? With bond rates at historic lows, Fort Worth can save millions of dollars by improving our children’s neighborhood schools now instead of waiting. Furthermore, this bond will not result in a property tax rate increase for homeowners and businesses. It is imperative that we provide our educators with the tools and facilities they need to best prepare the next generation of community leaders. The bond package will help our hard-working teachers across the district continue to provide quality programs at every grade level. This includes improving every part of the district with additional classroom space, renovations to aging middle schools, and a new elementary school.

The improvements funded by the bond issue will help the public schools fend off the aggressive invasion of new charter schools, which are favored by Governor Gregg Abbott.

Read more at: https://www.star-telegram.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/other-voices/article255103397.html#storylink=cpy

Governor Gregg Abbott, like some other Republican governors, banned mask mandates, preventing school districts from exercising local control about how best to protect their students. A federal judge ruled that Abbott’s ban violates the rights of students with disabilities and cannot be imposed on any district. This is good news for parents who want to protect their children against a deadly virus.

A federal judge ruled on Wednesday that Gov. Greg Abbott’s ban on mask mandates in Texas schools violates the rights of students with disabilities, clearing the path for districts in the state to issue their own rules for face coverings, a decision that could affect more than 5 million students.

The ruling comes after months of politicized disputes over measures at the state level opposing mask-wearing policies that had been intended to prevent the spread of Covid.

The lawsuit, which sought to overturn the mandate, was filed on behalf of several families of students with disabilities and the organization Disability Rights Texas.

They stated that the defendants — the state’s attorney general, Ken Paxton; the commissioner of the Texas Education Agency, Mike Morath; and the Texas Education Agency — had put students with disabilities at risk through their complete erasure of mask mandates.

The governor and some other state officials have maintained that protecting against the virus is a matter of personal responsibility.

Judge Lee Yeakel, who made the ruling in the suit filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, determined that the order from the governor violated the 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act because it put children with disabilities at risk.

The ruling also prohibits Mr. Paxton from enforcing the order by Mr. Abbott, who has repeatedly opposed Covid-related mandates.

There are eight other states that have banned mask mandates—Florida, Arizona, Montana, Iowa, Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Dakota.

You may remember IDEA as a free-spending charter chain in Texas. A few years ago, IDEA got negative publicity when its board of directors decided to lease a private jet at a cost of $x million per year. Then we learned that the schools had paid for box seats for the San Antonio Spurs basketball games. When the CEO departed, he received a $1 million golden parachute. These are not customary expenditures for a “public” school. These are the actions of a private corporation. Betsy DeVos dropped more than $200 million in federal funds on the IDEA chain, to enable it to expand.

William Gumbert, an independent researcher in Texas, took a deep dive into the metrics of the IDEA chain. After you read his report, you will wonder why the state of Texas and the federal government encouraged the chain to expand.

Gumbert writes:

Introduction: Federal and state elected officials, privately funded public policy organizations, and private foundations are financially supporting education reforms to undermine locally governed, community-based school districts. With promises of a “college preparatory” or “classical” education, the expansion of taxpayer-funded charter schools in local communities is the primary reform vehicle. IDEA Public Schools (“IDEA”) is the fastest growing and most prominent charter school network in Texas. National and regional promotions claim IDEA’s “Tuition-Free,” “No Excuses,” college-preparatory education model is revolutionizing education for low-income students and eliminating the opportunity gap. IDEA’s co- founder agrees by saying: “But no matter your zip code, you have access to a tuition-free public school, and I believe that will be the solution to every problem in America.”

With promotions of expert teachers and more of them, IDEA promises to prepare low-income students for success to and through college. As evidence, IDEA promotes that “100% of Graduates Have Been Accepted to their College of Choice for 15 Consecutive Years.” For education reformers, IDEA is validation that “when the adults in the system get it right, students can do remarkable things.

Unfortunately, recent findings reveal a story that is not representative of serving low-income families. IDEA’s story consists of private jets, chauffeured cars, a luxury Bed & Breakfast resort, misuse of public funds, high-priced advertising, misrepresentations, low instructional expenditures, low teacher experience, high “Student to Teacher Ratios,” and without offering career or technical training, IDEA graduates underperform in college. IDEA’s story is validation that locally governed school districts continue to provide higher quality educational attributes and better prepare students for success. IDEA’s story is also validation that TEA lacks the institutional controls to oversee charters and serves as another example of what happens when the state and private interests dictate the public education system in local communities.

Ernest Hemingway said, “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” Elected officials, education reformers, and families trusted IDEA Public Schools. Regrettably, IDEA has run amuck and “No Excuses” exist for the unyielding support of the state and private interests. It’s your schools, children, families, tax dollars, and communities!

The Promotion and Growth of IDEA – Private Foundations: After three years of classroom experience with Teach for America and at the age of 24, Tom Torkelson and JoAnn Gama founded the IDEA Public Schools charter network to revolutionize the education for low-income families. Since its founding, IDEA’s education model was propelled by private interests, including the Walton Family Foundation, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Ewing Halsell Foundation, KLE Foundation, and the George Brackenridge Foundation. Collectively, these organizations give contingent donations to open campuses in targeted communities, implement specific curriculum, and expand enrollment. Although IDEA no longer specifies the details of its donors, prior communications reveal that IDEA was the beneficiary of over $150 million of private donations to expand in various regions of Texas.
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Private Financial Support to Expand IDEA “Public” Schools

In 2008, IDEA had produced 56 high school graduates and no graduate had earned a college degree. But that did not prevent private foundations from strategically publicizing IDEA’s education model to further the charter movement. In 2009, Wendy Kopp, the founder of Teach for America (“TFA”), named Torkelson as “100 of the most influential global citizens” in TIME magazine. Coincidentally, TFA receives funding from the Walton Family Foundation, which has donated over $160 million, and other private foundations supporting charter expansion. Torkelson also received the Peter Jennings Award for Civic Leadership in 2009, another award annually provided by TFA. In 2016, IDEA was named the top charter school system in the country by the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation and the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, also funded by the Walton Family Foundation and other private foundations. In 2018, IDEA’s Torkelson and Gama were inducted into the National Charter School Hall of Fame.

State: At the state level, the appointed Commissioner of Education supports IDEA’s education reform model by unilaterally approving the opening of over 90 new campuses in the last decade to increase IDEA’s enrollment by 889%. To support the construction of new campuses, the state is guaranteeing the repayment of IDEA’s $988 million long-term, non-voter approved bonds through the Texas Permanent School Fund Bond Guarantee Program. The Texas legislature contributions include providing IDEA with $693 million of taxpayer funding in the current year and total taxpayer funding of $3.5 billion since 2010/11. With funding for public education limited, IDEA’s taxpayer funding is at the expense of locally governed school districts.

IDEA Public Schools: It should not be a surprise that IDEA is also its biggest advocate, thanks to an annual $7.3 million Advertising Budget. To build a perception as an education pioneer, IDEA’s full-time promotional staff is directed to: “work with public relation partners to produce positive news stories, promote school leaders as subject matter experts, and build relationships with elected officials.” IDEA also runs prime-time commercials during the Super Bowl and World Series to promote its image and maximize its exposure.


IDEA Public Schools – Historical Enrollment

Download the pdf here.

The heated debate over “critical race theory,” “indoctrination” and “socialism” in the schools, and attacks on teachers for teaching books like Beloved has unleashed the native fascism that usually hides under a rock.

We saw it in Virginia, where the Republican winner in the election played on these issues in his campaign and vowed that he would pass a law to allow parents to opt their children out of reading stuff that made them “uncomfortable.”

A Texas legislator aims to be on the front lines of book banning. Rep. Matt Krause assembled a list of 850 books that he thinks should be removed from the schools. The books must go “because they might cause students to feel “discomfort.”The list is heavily weighted towards titles about gender, sexuality, racism, and other topics that he thinks should not be taught or read about in school. He probably would ban them for college too if he could.

My guess is that these books were chosen simply by their title, not because Rep. Krause read them.

Here is the list of 850 books that he wants to eliminate from the schools. Krause has no idea whether any of them are taught in the schools.

In the age of the Internet, when teens can see anything and everything mentioned in these books, this crude censorship is ridiculous.

I can’t tell whether the odor in the air is the burning of books or is the stench of McCarthyism.

What do you think?

Under the combined influence of Donald Trump and Governor Gregg Abbott, a considerable number of Texas parents have become convinced that their public schools have become hotbeds of Marxism and malignant “critical race theory.” Any discussion of racism is interpreted to mean CRT. Opponents of CRT oppose any recognition of racism in the past or present. This story in The Texas Monthly documents the mass hysteria now sweeping the Republican Party.

It describes a meeting in one of the state’s most successful schools: high test scores, high graduation rates, high college acceptance rates, award-wining teams. Yet the parents are furious because the school hired a diversity consultant from Teachers College, Columbia University!

About 99 percent of the 2021 senior class at Westlake High School was accepted to college, superintendent Tom Leonard tells the audience at the June 22 meeting of Eanes’s board, recapping another year of high achievement. The robotics team won a state championship, he adds, which could improve the school’s third-place standing in the Lone Star Cup, awarded to the state’s winningest schools. Westlake also won a state football championship, and the boys’ golf team won state too, as it has four years running. By the standards of Texas public schools, Eanes is an idyll.

Soon after Leonard stops speaking, however, loud yelling commences, and it continues for the better part of an hour. According to most of the 38 people who have come to give public testimony, the district’s schools have become beholden to “post-Marxist critical theory,” as one speaker puts it—“an updated version of Marxism focusing on differences between people.” The school board, says another, has opened the doors of Eanes to “antifa and BLM,” forces that “salivate after war” and “burn down” communities.

On the agenda today are two items that might seem unlikely reasons to go to battle. One is the contract of Mark Gooden, a professor at the Teachers College at Columbia University, in New York City, and, since 2020, the diversity, equity, and inclusion consultant for Eanes. The second is a rewrite of the district’s mission statement. After workshopping the document for more than a year, the board had settled on “Unite. Empower. Inspire . . . Every Person, Every Day.”

The angry parents are certain that these two items are evidence that the district has become “woke,” even anti-white.”

Mass madness.