This past week, we at KLRN’s “Texas Week” received our first press release from Marisa Perez.
You may need to be reminded that she is the somewhat mysterious woman who displaced Trinity University Professor Michael Soto as a San Antonio representative on the State Board of Education.
She won the Democratic Primary in this bottom-of-the-ballot race despite spending no campaign money and barely running a campaign.
Voters, other than those who know her personally, had no reason to know her views on educational policy or what part she would play in the culture wars that have plagued the State Board of Education for years.
I was pleased by two aspects of the press release.
One is that it said we received it because we are “a preferred media partner.” It’s always preferable to be preferred.
I was also pleased because the press release represented a voice of reason in the State Board’s most recent skirmish in its culture wars.
That skirmish is over CSCOPE, a curriculum developed by a coalition of regional Texas Education Agency service centers tasked with supporting public schools.
While voluntary, it has been used by about 80 percent of the state’s school districts.
It is designed to prepare students for the latest standardized state tests and to provide continuity for the large number of students who change schools.
Some religious fundamentalists and Tea Party activists discovered elements of the CSCOPE curriculum that disturbed them deeply.
One critic apparently riled commentator Glen Beck, who last November did a show objecting to a proposed exercise that has students consider whether the British might have seen the patriots of the American Revolution as “terrorists.”
Others apparently are upset because the curriculum discusses some aspects of Islam without being negative.
The critics found a champion in radio talk-show host and State Sen. Dan Patrick, a Tea Party hero.
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst appointed Patrick chairman of the Education Committee after losing a race for the U.S. Senate to another Tea Party hero, Ted Cruz.
(Sen. Patrick showed his gratitude by announcing he would run to unseat Dewhurst next year.)
Sen. Patrick worked to ban CSCOPE.
Perhaps he thinks it would be better to teach children differing views of who is a terrorist by quoting that patriot, State Rep. Bill Zedler (R-Arlington).
When State Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) temporarily blocked passage of an anti-abortion law, Zedler tweeted:
“We had a terrorist in the Texas State Senate opposing SB 5.”
The lesson is the same: One woman’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist.
Sen. Patrick’s attempts to ban CSCOPE have hit a rock.
A Texas Education Agency lawyer told the State Board of Education that the curriculum has been released from copyright, and so is as available to teachers and school districts as a Shakespeare play.
If the curriculum is subversive it seems to have escaped the notice of many educators – including in such hotbeds of liberalism as Bandera, Pleasanton, Poteet, Uvalde and Alamo Heights.
And, oh yes, the military school districts at Fort Sam Houston and Lackland Air Force Base.
Marisa Perez – remember Marisa?
This is a piece about Marisa – made a very reasonable point in her press release.
“I keep hearing a call for less government oversight by elected officials, yet they then proclaim themselves the Academic Tool Czar online,” she said in a reference to Sen. Patrick.
I’d quote more from her press release, but at the bottom it says - and I’ve never seen this on a press release before - something that indicates it is something CSCOPE isn’t: