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Give Yourself & Others The Gift Of Your Larger Involvement In Public Affairs—TPA Blogger Round-Up

At the end of this post is the most recent edition of the Texas Progressive Alliance round-up. The TPA is a confederation of the best political bloggers in Texas.

TPA bloggers blog away even at the holidays.

That said, we do indeed wish for you and your family to have an excellent holiday season

For example, the family you see below is enjoying a fine Texas Christmas.

And , of course, Texans know Santa is a Texan. Nobody else is aware of this fact, but I’m certain it is being taught in our schools by order of the far right-wing Texas State Board of Education.

Not all Texans celebrate the same holidays. Below we see Texas Governor Rick Perry at the lighting of our state menorah. Governor Perry is quite ecumenical in the sense he is willing to use the cover of any faith to obscure  how the Texas state budget will be balanced on the backs of the poor in the 2011 legislative session.

No matter what holiday you celebrate, a great gift  you could give yourself, to the people in your life, and to your fellow citizens, is the gift of your increased  involvement in politics and public affairs in 2011.

In 2010, the so-called Tea Party out-organized and out-worked folks on the other side of the ideological aisle. The Tea Party/Republican Party is enjoying the holiday season right now looking forward to a Republican U.S. House of Representatives right after the new year.

We need to wise up and fight for each other and for a better world. Those elves you see below are not working to protect tax breaks for the rich. They are not going on about Muslims and immigrants. They are fighting for a better world and sticking together  even in hard times.

We’ve got a number of challenges ahead in both Texas and in our nation. You’ve got to decide for yourself that you are not going to let your state and your nation be taken over by right-wing extremists. You’ve got to decide that we can and will make progress.

Here is the round-up—

Off the Kuff celebrates the DeLay verdict.

Bay Area Houston has a visual suggestion to the judge in the Tom DeLay trial regarding the sentencing.

Did employers or their representatives provide ‘assistance’ to their employees as they voted in La Joya? CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme would really like to know.

Public Citizen over at TexasVox is getting ready for the sunset hearings on the TCEQ and Railroad Commission, coming up December 15-16, bylooking at a national report which gives Texas’ regulatory agencies a D-. Continue reading

December 5, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

In Texas, Kids Are Denied The Right To Arm Themselves With Knowledge—Blogger Round-Up

Here is the weekly posting of the Texas Progressive Alliance Round-Up. The TPA is a confederation of the best political bloggers in Texas. You’ll find the round-up at the end of this post.

Some of the big news in Texas in this past week has been meetings of the Texas State Board of Education to determine what can be taught  to school kids in our Texas schools.

Far right-wingers, in control of the board, are purging textbooks of facts that disagree with their world view.

While Texas conservatives very much want you to have the right to bear arms no matter where you go, they are less open to the right to arm yourself with knowledge.

( In the picture above, I illustrate how history is now being taught in Texas. In the picture you see that the Samuel Slater bobble head has just walked off the Mayflower in West Texas–that is why there is a cactus–-and is being greeted by a Care Bear. You can teach any crazy thing in our schools now as long as it is false.)

This idiocy has attracted worldwide attention.

These folks want to take Thomas Jefferson out of our schools. Please click here to learn about Thomas Jefferson. The good news is that the federal protection of the First Amendment allows me to tell you about Thomas Jefferson no matter how much some of individual states of our Federal Union want to lie about our shared history.

Some of the best blogging about this issue has been done by leading Houston-area blogger Martha Griffin at her blog Musings. Martha was at the hearings and is an expert on education in Texas and about education issues nationally.

Here is a history of education in Texas from the excellent Handbook of Texas Online.

From this history—“During the latter half of the nineteenth century the educational system in Texas still operated on a sporadic and localized basis. Some Texans regarded education as a private matter and resented any state involvement. Private and church schools continued to play key roles in the educational development of Texas and in some areas offered the only choice of formal schooling. Schools short of funds often faced problems of low supplies, inadequate facilities, and poorly trained teachers. Since the days before the republic some government officials had called for guidelines specifying the qualifications of teachers.”

I suppose we have made some progress since that time. Maybe. Sort of.

Here is the round-up—

This week at Left of College Station, the spring semester ends and Teddy has made it through another twelve hours of classes. He wasn’t too busy to take a look at the developments in the campaign for TX-17, and how the Republicans are attempting to nationalize the midterm elections.
TXsharon of BLUEDAZE: Drilling Reform for Texas took some EPA officials from D.C. on a Barnett Shale tour last week.

Bay Area Houston says Arizona’s Governor Brewer is the new Face of the GOP.

Off the Kuff interviewed Democratic candidate for Lt. Gov. Linda Chavez-Thompson about Arizona’s immigration law and what comprehensive immigration reform would look like.

WhosPlayin has the final results from the Texas DSHS investigation of blood and urine for residents of Dish, TX; the conclusions are not by any means an exoneration for the industry because of significant limitations to the investigation. Continue reading

May 23, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When The Mayflower Landed In West Texas—In Texas You Can Teach Schoolchildren Nearly Anything At All

As many know from following the news about the Texas State Board of Education, it is okay to teach Texas schoolchildren nearly any type of wrong information.

Evolution is a crock and Thomas Jefferson was not a significant participant in U.S. history–This is what you can learn in our Texas public schools under the new standards.

Far right-wing ideologues have taken control of the Texas Board.  As a result, kids in Texas are not getting a clear view of the facts as they really are in the world.

Why would employers want to hire people educated in such a way?

Above is a picture illustrating how the landing of the Mayflower is taught here in Texas.

Here is the lesson as I am nearly sure it is being instructed—

“When the Mayflower landed in West Texas (See the cactus?), the Samuel Slater bobble head got out of the ship and was greeted by a Care Bear.”

In Texas, you can teach our kids anything at all. It’s like a Wild West of education.

You can teach anything you want so as long as you don’t get to close to what is actually the truth.

May 4, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

While You Can’t Learn About Thomas Jefferson In Texas Schools, You Can Learn About Jefferson At This Blog

The so-called Texas State Board of Education has decided to remove Thomas Jefferson from the curriculum taught to school kids in Texas.

(Above–Jefferson as painted by Rembrandt Peale in 1800.)

From a blog in the science magazine Discover

“Board member Cynthia Dunbar wants to change a standard having students study the impact of Enlightenment ideas on political revolutions from 1750 to the present. She wants to drop the reference to Enlightenment ideas (replacing with “the writings of”) and to Thomas Jefferson. She adds Thomas Aquinas and others. Jefferson’s ideas, she argues, were based on other political philosophers listed in the standards. We don’t buy her argument at all. Board member Bob Craig of Lubbock points out that the curriculum writers clearly wanted to students to study Enlightenment ideas and Jefferson. Could Dunbar’s problem be that Jefferson was a Deist? The board approves the amendment, taking Thomas Jefferson OUT of the world history standards.”

The blog post above was written by the scientist Carl Zimmer. Mr. Zimmer often writes about evolution.

Evolution is real.

However, just because you can’t learn about Thomas Jefferson in our Texas schools, does not mean you can’t learn about our third President here in Texas.

You can learn about Thomas Jefferson right here at Texas Liberal.

Here are three strong resources to learn about Jefferson—

The Miller Center for Public affairs at the U. of Virginia has excellent profiles of the Presidents. Here is the profile for President Jefferson.

Here is the link to the plantation home of Mr. Jefferson. This Monticello web site is very well done.

Here are the Thomas Jefferson papers from the Library of Congress. There are also essays about Mr. Jefferson at this site.

Our Texas State Board of Education wants people to be ignorant. Yet we should not be ignorant.

March 15, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Calling All Smart Kids—Come To Texas To Compete For College Spots And Jobs Against Kids Who Get Right-Wing Education In Public Schools

File:Sam-houston-school-maryville.jpg

The Texas State Board of Education is talking about changes in what  kids learn about history and social studies in public schools. They want to shift the curriculum away from the facts and towards the political and Christian right.

Here is a Houston Chronicle article on the subject.   

( Above–A schoolhouse in Maryville, Tennessee where Sam Houston taught in the early 1800’s. Here is the link to the Sam Houston Memorial Museum in Huntsville, Texas. This schoolhouse in Maryville is open to the public and has an interesting history. Please click here to learn more about it.)

The Wall Street Journal has also written about this subject. Here is the link to that story.  From the article—

“The Texas Board of Education, which recently approved new science standards that made room for creationist critiques of evolution, is revising the state’s social studies curriculum. In early recommendations from outside experts appointed by the board, a divide has opened over how central religious theology should be to the teaching of history.”

The articles here speak for themselves. What is to be taught is a right-wing inaccurate version of the facts. Parents, and all concerned citizens, can decide to take a role in this debate or they can just ignore it all.

Here is the link to the Texas State Board of Education.

People say that having kids changes you and that people care about their kids more than anything. What I see is apathy about education and parents who lack the imagination and the willingness to prepare kids for the demands of adulthood.

I’m happy to be proven wrong on this— But it won’t be individual examples of great education and great parenting that impress. I know these things take place all the time.

What will convince me is a well-educated society as a whole, and parents who take the time needed for their own kids and who are willing to meet the tax burden required to provide a decent education for all kids.  

In the meantime, if you’ve got a smart hard-working kid, bring the kid to Texas and take advantage of the weak competition for college spots and good jobs. 

 From the Houston Chronicle article—

Biographies of Washington, Lincoln, Stephen F. Austin? Not fit reading material for children in the early grades. Cesar Chavez? Not worthy of his role-model status. Christianity? Emphasize its importance. Such suggestions are part of efforts to rewrite history books for the state’s schoolchildren, producing some expert recommendations that are sure to inflame Texans, no matter their political leanings.

The State Board of Education expects to start discussing new social studies curriculum standards this week, with members of the public getting their first opportunity to speak this fall and a final board vote next spring.

The process is a long one with lasting impact: reshaping the social studies curriculum, including history, for 4.7 million Texas public school children. “This is something that every parent would want to be paying attention to… ”

Curriculum standards are updated about every 10 years; the last social studies update came in 1997. According to a preliminary draft of the new proposed standards, biographies of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Stephen F. Austin have been removed from the early grades, said Brooke Terry of the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

The early draft, which is likely to change multiple times in the coming months, also removes Independence Day, Veterans’ Day, and anthems and mottos for bothTexas and the United States in a section on holidays, customs and celebrations, she said. “You have the ability to shape the next generation on the beliefs about the government and the role of personal responsibility but also understanding our history and the principles that we want to pass down to our children,” Terry said. “With many of the suggested changes, I think we would be backtracking on many of the important things that people fight for in defense of our country.” Continue reading

July 14, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Person I Don’t Know Asks Me To Back Candidate I’ve Never Heard Of—I Do So Out Of Trust And Party ID

A few weeks ago I was asked to be a friend on Facebook by a person I don’t know. She’d noticed we had some friends in common on Facebook. She messaged me something along the lines of that if I knew such people, I was likely to share her political values.

The people we have in common on Facebook are liberal Texas political bloggers and a few others connected with Democratic politics in the Houston-area.

The conclusion this woman reached based on our mutual friends was solid. I accepted her friend request.

A few weeks later this woman asked me to join a Facebook group in support of a Laura Ewing for the Texas State Board of Education, District 7. I had never heard of Ms. Ewing. You can click the link to learn about Ms. Ewing, where in Texas District 7 is, ( It includes a good chunk of the Houston metro-area) and what the Texas State Board of Education does.

Since I had established trust for the person asking me to back Ms. Ewing, it was not much of a leap to join Ms. Ewing’s Facebook group. I’ve also listed her as a campaign I support as noted under my blogroll.

It was not just that I trust the person who made the suggestion I support Ms. Ewing. It’s also so that since Ms. Ewing is a Democrat, I can be reasonably certain she holds at least some views not so different from my own. Party identification is a shorthand to help voters navigate the complex set of issues that are at stake in any election.

The fact is that only so many voters are going to study what the Texas Board of Education is all about. Just tell me who the Democrat is, and I can move on to something else.

This does not mean I won’t vote for a third-party candidate—if one exists—or leave the spot on the ballot for this office blank if I find the Democrat running to be offensive. But for the most part, I just need to know who the Democrat is. I’m not going to be voting for any Republican in this age of a far-right Republican party.

Personal trust and party ID–These are good enough reasons for me to support Laura Ewing for the Texas State Board of Education.

September 2, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Houston, Politics, Relationships, Texas | , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments