Today I wanted to run through a few of the highlights of my own journey into finding the importance of state and local politics. It seems that when you’re running for ultra low turnout seats, usually having the right letter by your name is enough for the party line voters to elect you. Here are a few of the people and stories that caused me to really care.
Cynthia Dunbar kicks off our list for her time on the Texas school board. While she was there, she was part of the disgusting far right illness that infected K-12 educational curriculum. Some of the highlights she spearheaded would be calling the slave trade by the name, “Atlantic triangular trade,” cutting Thomas Jefferson out for the most part, spending a good amount of time justifying Joseph McCarthy’s communist witch hunts, and last but not least saying that the Civil Rights movement created, “unrealistic expectations of equal outcomes” among minorities. To top it all off, she’s another uber religious nutter that thinks separation of church and state is something that should be eliminated.
But none of that is why she made the list…
This former member of the Texas school board pulled the swampy-drainy move of leaving there and working as CEO of Momentum Instruction, which is a textbook supplier to schools in, you guessed it, Texas! One of the most known projects Momentum Instruction has produced is a textbook put together as a response for more Latin American history curriculum in public schools, which seems like a good goal given the state’s demographics, until you see the textbook they produced.
The cover looks like any other that you might encounter. Unfortunately, we were taught not to judge a book by its cover, so someone cracked the thing open and gave it a read before the thing got approved. It turns out that banal cover hides a book that is racist as hell.
One juicy bit, which Dunbar claimed was taken out of context, was a passage that described industrialists (read: white America) as hard workers, always on the clock, and unable to deal with the Mexicans who were not reared to put in a full day of work, skipped Mondays, and didn’t know drinking on the job would be frowned upon. It’s difficult to imagine a context you could put that into that would cast those words in an inclusive and non-racist light.
Luckily, the attention drawn to a textbook like this one kept it from being accepted onto the list of recommended materials put out by the school board.
Valarie Hodges gets the second spot in our All Star lineup, not because what she’s done is particularly new, but because given the current department of education, her deliciously boneheaded move may be repeated all across the country.
Hodges, like many Republicans, is a supporter of school choice vouchers, or she was. After initially supporting Governor Bobby Jindal’s voucher program, she made a rapid about-face when she realized that vouchers going to religious schools couldn’t be restricted to only her religion. As she said it, she thought it was a shame that vouchers couldn’t be limited to the founder’s religion.
Forgive me for taking a moment here for a quick aside on the ridiculous notion that America, a country founded as much on freedom from religion as it was on freedom of religion, was founded as a christian nation. It wasn’t. No amount of mental gymnastics or revisionist history (unless Dunbar has a say), will ever turn George Washington into Jerry Falwell.
Back to the point, Hodges flipped her lid when a local Islamic school applied to be a part of the voucher program. The stupidity and pomposity that would allow someone to assume that naturally no other religions would have the same rights is delicious, and we’ll likely get to see it play out a million times across the country as Devos sets about implementing school choice.
This one is a quickie. Mark Chelgren put forth legislation suggesting that state funded colleges and universities in Iowa should only hire faculty in such a way that would balance them between republicans and democrats. The law went as far as saying that the election commission would give over records on prospective hires to the schools.
For a man to have such an enlightened view on higher education, you’d think he had some experience with it, and seeing his bio that listed a business degree would reinforce that idea. The problem is that his business degree is a certificate that came from a company that ran Sizzler restaurants. It’s from a management course he took so he could be promoted. Sizzler classes are fine, there’s nothing wrong with on the job training, and it could have delivered real value, but it isn’t okay to parade it around as a business degree when it clearly is not.
There is plenty more where this came from. If this fun little exercise gets a good response maybe we can do it from time to time. The real crackpots come out when safe, ideologically homogeneous regions are the ones being represented.