I was concerned by Paul Rolly’s Aug. 15 description of how the "rat pack" is manipulating the Utah State Board of Education, saddened by the frustrated departure of so many Utah Office of Education committed professionals, and bemused by the strident and barely coherent Op-ed by board members Jennifer Johnson and Jefferson Moss ("State education board defends Utah’s independence," Aug. 15).
Gail Collins described the same process of micromanagement and ideologically motivated interference that took place in Texas over a 20-year period in her book, "As Texas Goes..." By 2011, the board’s influence on curriculum and textbooks led the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute to bemoan that the state curriculum "distorts or suppresses less triumphal or more nuanced aspects of our past that the Board found politically unacceptable ... The resulting fusion is a confusing, unteachable hodgepodge."
The influence of Texas’s politicized board may be seen in the performance of students reported in 2011’s "Texas on the Brink" report: SAT scores, 45th of 50 states; percent of population 25 and older with a high school diploma, 50th; high school graduation rate, 43rd; teenage birth rate, 7th; average hourly earnings of production workers, 38th; income inequality between the rich and the middle class, 5th; rate of incarceration, 9th; and percent of voting age population that votes, 45th.
Does Texas, with its politicized State Board of Education, show Utah its future? Time will tell.
Salt Lake City
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