Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Texas! Motto: Please Don't Point When You Laugh

Oh, Texas. Where would we be without you? You're like the Santa Claus of stupidity, handing out presents to all the good little boys and girls. But you don't just come once a year, oh no, you're like the 24/7 Santa. You're Santa on steroids. You don't furtively slip down the chimney in the dead of night, you walk right up to the house in broad daylight, kick the door in and stand in the foyer shouting, "Hey. Look At ME! I don't know my elbow from a hole in the ground and I'm proud of it!"

It's a good thing we don't get paid for writing this blog, because if we did we'd probably have to turn our salaries back in on days Texas is our topic. It's just too easy, even for us.

In its haste to bleed any semblance of educational value out of the state's social studies curriculum standards, the State Board of Education tossed children's author Bill Martin, who died in 2004, from a proposal for the third-grade section. Board member Pat Hardy, R-Cementhead, who made the motion, cited books he had written for adults that contain "very strong critiques of capitalism and the American system."

I don't care if he's dead," Hardy said. "He's still a comminist."

The book on Marxism was written by Bill Martin, a philosophy professor at DePaul University in Chicago.

"Chicago?" Hardy said. "Round these parts we call that Moscow on the lake."

Trouble is, the Bill Martin Jr. who wrote the Brown Bear series never wrote anything political, unless you count a book that taught kids how to say the Pledge of Allegiance.

Hardy said she was trusting the research of another board member, Terri Leo, R-Spring-loose, when she made her motion and comments about Martin's writing.

Oh. Would that be Dr. Terri Leo, Harvard educated Rhodes Scholar and Pulitzer prize winning political historian?

Leo had sent her an e-mail alerting her to Bill Martin Jr.'s listing on the Borders .com Web site as the author of Ethical Marxism. Leo's note also said she hadn't read the book.

Guess not.

"She said that that there was what he done wrote, and I said: ' ... It's a good enough reason for me to get rid of someone 'cause serving on this here Board of Ed gecation takes up a lot of my time and I can't be reading any o' them subversive books with all them big o fancy words and such,' " Hardy told reporters. "Why some days I don't even have time to watch my stories."

In an e-mail exchange, Leo said she planned to make a motion to replace Bill Martin. Leo, however, said she wasn't asking Hardy to make any motions. She said she didn't do any research. "Since I didn't check it out, I wasn't about to make the motion. 'Sides my stories was on," Leo said.

Right. So when you said you, " planned to make a motion to replace Bill Martin." What you really meant was you weren't "about to make the motion."

We're beginning to see why Texas education is having problems.

For some, the mix-up is an indicator of a larger problem with the way the elected board members have approached the update of state curriculum standards.

We're going to go ahead all call it the Three Stooges do Readin,' Ritin' and Rithmetic approach, co-staring Laurel and Hardy.

Leo said, adding that she never meant for her "FYI" e-mail to Hardy to be spoken about in a public forum. "Lord knows the less folks know what were a doin' up here the better," Leo said.

Ah, we wouldn't worry. Since you don't know what you're doing, no one else will either. Oh, wait. That's sort of the problem isn't it?

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