The Fire and Brimstone World of Texas School Propaganda

A few weeks ago, the liberal media put the Texas educational system under a great deal of scrutiny, claiming that the State Board of Education (SBOE) was dropping Thomas Jefferson from the curriculum framework. The accusations were not even true -- the board had simply removed his name from a list of European Enlightenment philosophers, which the board chairwoman, Gail Lowe, explained as an inappropriate placement of Jefferson's name:

Jefferson was not himself an Enlightenment philosopher, although he was heavily influenced by the writings of these individuals. But to say the State Board of Education has removed him from the [Texas Essential Knowledge & Skills program] is inaccurate and irresponsible.

The liberal media has also lashed out at the Texas State Board of Education on other issues, claiming that topics such as the Judeo-Christian influences of the nation's Founding Fathers, the decline of the U.S. dollar, the Bill of Rights, and the free-enterprise system are "far-right" biased.

Liberals continue to stir up outrage by twisting and misrepresenting the facts, but where is the outrage over the liberal bias in the public school system? Why is it we never hear about that?

While attending the Texas State Republican Executive Committee (SREC) quarterly meeting to blog on behalf of, I learned about an example of extreme liberal bias in the form of a handout entitled "Philosophical Differences Between Liberals and Conservatives." It was passed out by San Antonio Roosevelt High School (NEISD) teacher Barbara Geerdes to her AP U.S. government class. TexasGOPVote was later sent a copy of the handout, and I recognized it as something our community would be greatly concerned about.

According to some parents, Mrs. Geerdes did not allow the students to take the handout out of the classroom. (That charge has since been denied by the school district's superintendent, as you'll read in a moment.) However, one brave student grew concerned over the teacher's repeated politicization of the classroom and managed to get his copy of the document out of the classroom so that he could show his parents at home. According to a source that followed up with the father of the student:

The Dean of Students responded that the teacher admitted that she has been distributing handouts all year without required pre-approval from the head of the social studies department. She has been giving these out to all of her classes, not just the AP class. She has always collected the handouts at the end of the class period and has never allowed the handouts to be taken home.

I attempted to contact Mrs. Geerdes and the school's superintendent numerous times in order to understand Mrs. Geerdes' reasoning as to why she thought the handouts were effective learning tools.

Eventually, Richard A. Middleton, the superintendent of the North East Independent School District, replied. The full text of his response is online at Texas GOP Vote, but here is the crux of Mr. Middleton's reply:

The intent of the Roosevelt teacher was to use this document to spark discussion among her students about political philosophies and bias, but without clarification of that intention in the materials, it could be misconstrued as the teacher’s and District’s beliefs.  The handout was part of a student packet for a Government class. Students could take the packet home, and it was posted on the teacher’s Web page where students and parents can review assignments.  Blogosphere comments that report students were not allowed to take the document home are simply not true.  Other students who were in this class have confirmed that they were allowed to take the handout home and were never restricted from doing so.

Soon after a student took the packet home, a parent complained to the school about the handout. At that point, the handout was pulled due to the parent concern.  As a result, the document was never used in the class. However, had it been used, it would not have been a stand-alone document. The teacher’s intent was to have students consider their political points of view, identify examples of liberal and conservative ideas, and discuss bias as depicted in the handout’s words and pictures.

The parent who brought this complaint forward was contacted within 24 hours by a school administrator and informed that the document was removed from the lesson. After hearing the school’s resolution of the matter, the parent stated he wanted his child to remain in the teacher’s class.

Fair enough. But take a look below at scanned copies of the "teaching materials" that were passed out; they're reproduced on the next page.