On Wednesday, September 29, Rep. Ellen Cohen welcomed constituents of District 134 to a Town Hall Meeting to discuss the State Board of Education (SBOE). The panelists included Rep. Scott Hochberg, Vice Chair of the House Committee on Public Education; Honorable Lawrence Allen, Vice Chair of the State Board of Education; Martha Griffin, Science Content Specialist of Pasadena ISD; Angela Miller, Manager of Secondary Social Studies Curriculum – Houston ISD; and Kathy Miller, President of the Texas Freedom Network (TFN). The event, held at Houston Community College West Loop South, focused on the recent controversy surrounding the SBOE, including a discussion about the debate over social studies curriculum standards.
“Many of the attendees at the Town Hall noted that they did not realize the scope of the SBOE,” said Cohen. “The feedback was that the Town Hall was informative as well as enlightening. My goal in hosting Town Halls is to give constituents access to experts and information related to State government.”
The panelists touched on a variety of in-depth topics. Rep. Hochberg discussed the influence the legislature has over the State Board of Education, while Vice Chair Allen provided insight about the SBOE’s decision making process. Allen stated, “Board members should not amend curriculum content after experts and scholars say it is okay. Instead of a discussion about education, it becomes a political battle field.”
Kathy Miller explained that flawed social studies standards are merely a symptom of the problem. She stated, “The real problem is that we have a system that allows politicians to write curriculum, and not the teachers and scholars.”
The audience was surprised to learn from Martha Griffin that of the almost 5 million students in Texas public schools, 58.9% are economically disadvantaged. Finally, Angela Miller discussed curriculum objectives that undermine the education for our students in Texas. She gave specific examples of how the new social studies curriculum contradicts historical accuracy.