News Articles about Texas State Board of Education Members
Promoting the National Council Bible Curriculum

Compiled by Texas Citizens for Science
2008 September 27

Four on school board push Bible curriculum

Expert: E-mail to school districts 'jaw-dropping'; lawsuits predicted


By GARY SCHARRER
Houston Chronicle Austin Bureau
Sept. 26, 2008
http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/6026004.html

AUSTIN Several state Board of Education members are encouraging public school districts to use a particular Bible curriculum that some experts predict will land them in court if they do.

"It's absolutely jaw-dropping," said Mark Chancey, a professor of religious studies at Southern Methodist University, referring to the e-mail circulated by state Board of Education members Terri Leo, R-Spring, Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, Cynthia Dunbar, R-Richmond, and Gail Lowe, R-Lampasas.

Local schools should decide which Bible curriculum to offer, they said in the e-mail to school administrators and school boards.

"We recognize, however, that the curriculum provided by the National Council On Bible Curriculum in Public Schools has been implemented successfully in numerous school districts within the state of Texas for years," the e-mail said.

Chancey, who has studied the curriculum, characterized the course as the teaching of "a religious right political advocacy group trying to promote the role of conservative Christianity in public life."

About 11 Texas school districts used the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools courses in varying degrees during the 2005-06 school year, Chancey said, when he studied the curriculum. Chancey is chairman of SMU's department of religious studies.

Backers say it's valid

Texas lawmakers last year approved legislation making it easier for public school districts to teach a Bible course starting next year.

The e-mail was an effort to "inform and reaffirm that this curriculum has been around for a number of years and has always satisfied the TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills)," Lowe said. Leo, Cargill and Dunbar did not respond to telephone calls seeking comment Friday.

The four members told school officials, "It makes logical sense to select a curriculum that has already been tested and proven within the field."

The e-mail said they "believe the curriculum provided by the National Council On Bible Curriculum In Public Schools meets the academic requirements set forth by both the State Board of Education and the Texas Legislature, and could be implemented successfully by local school districts."

But Chancey and officials of the Texas Freedom Network disputed that assertion.

How to teach it

Last March, the Ector County Independent School District ended a lawsuit with a settlement requiring the Odessa-based school system to drop the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools course.

Lowe said it's possible a teacher might have taught the curriculum inappropriately and believes the course material itself is sound.

But Chancey said the curriculum "reflects a bias towards conservative Protestant perspectives of the Bible at the expense of other perspectives. Basically, this course promotes certain religious views over all others."

A Florida judge also ruled against the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools 10 years ago, he said.

"They are promoting a Bible class curriculum that's going to get schools sued," said Dan Quinn of the Texas Freedom Network, an Austin group that promotes religious freedom and individual liberties.

"It's just reckless to mislead school districts and pretend that this curriculum is appropriate," he said. "This curriculum puts school districts in the role of favoring and promoting particular religious perspectives that are simply not shared by everyone."

Lowe said, "The Texas Freedom Network likes to predict lawsuits and likes to stir up trouble."

gscharrer@express-news.net

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Board officials like Bible curriculum

Gary Scharrer
San Antonio Express-News
Web Posted: 09/27/2008
http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/Board_officials_like_Bible_curriculum.html

AUSTIN Several State Board of Education members are encouraging public school districts to use a particular Bible curriculum that some experts predict would land them in court.

"It's absolutely jaw dropping," Mark Chancey, a professor of religious studies at Southern Methodist University, said of an e-mail circulated by board members Terri Leo, R-Spring; Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands; Cynthia Dunbar, R-Richmond; and Gail Lowe, R-Lampasas.

Local schools should decide which Bible curriculum to offer, they said in the e-mail to school administrators and school boards.

"We recognize, however, that the curriculum provided by the National Council On Bible Curriculum In Public Schools has been implemented successfully in numerous school districts within the state of Texas for years," they said.

Chancey, who has studied the curriculum, characterized the course as the teaching of "a religious right political advocacy group trying to promote the role of conservative Christianity in public life."

About 11 Texas school districts used the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools courses in varying degrees during the 2005-06 school year, said Chancey, chairman of SMU's department of religious studies.

Texas lawmakers last year approved legislation making it easier for public school districts to teach a Bible course starting next year.

The e-mail was an effort to "inform and reaffirm that this curriculum has been around for a number of years and has always satisfied the TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills)," Lowe said.

Leo, Cargill and Dunbar did not respond to requests for comment. The four State Board of Education members told school officials, "It makes logical sense to select a curriculum that has already been tested and proven within the field."

But Chancey and officials of the Texas Freedom Network disputed that assertion.

Last March, the Ector County Independent School District ended a lawsuit with a settlement requiring the Odessa-based school system to drop the national council's course.

Lowe said it's possible a teacher taught the curriculum inappropriately and believes the course material itself is sound.

But Chancey said the curriculum "reflects a bias toward conservative Protestant perspectives of the Bible at the expense of other perspectives."

A Florida judge also ruled against the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools 10 years ago, he said.

"They are promoting a Bible class curriculum that's going to get schools sued," said Dan Quinn of the Texas Freedom Network, an Austin organization that promotes religious freedom and individual liberties.

"It's just reckless to mislead school districts and pretend that this curriculum is appropriate," he said. "This curriculum puts school districts in the role of favoring and promoting particular religious perspectives that are simply not shared by everyone."

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Texas education board members back Bible curriculum

By TERRENCE STUTZ / The Dallas Morning News
tstutz@dallasnews.com
Saturday, September 27, 2008
http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/texassouthwest/stories/DN-bible_27tex.ART.State.Edition1.2690ded.html

AUSTIN Four State Board of Education members have recommended to school districts a Bible course curriculum that was at the center of a lawsuit filed by parents against a West Texas school district.

In a letter sent to superintendents and school boards, the four board members said while they were not trying to prescribe the curriculum to be used in an elective Bible course authorized this summer, they wanted to recommend course materials sold by the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools.

"It makes logical sense to select a curriculum that has already been tested and proven within the field," the letter said. It was signed by Republican board members Barbara Cargill of The Woodlands, Cynthia Dunbar of Richmond, Terri Leo of Spring and Gail Lowe of Lampasas.

The materials were not recommended by the Texas Education Agency.

The National Council curriculum was the basis for a lawsuit filed by parents in the Ector County School District last year alleging that a Bible course in two Odessa high schools using the study plan violated the religious freedom rights of some students. The curriculum uses the King James version of the Bible as its main text.

Ector County school officials settled the lawsuit in March by agreeing to quit using the National Council class materials and switch to a curriculum developed by seven local educators.

The Texas Freedom Network, a progressive group that follows education issues, sharply criticized the four board members for the letter and noted they were part of a board majority that declined to set specific guidelines for the Bible course. TFN and others had argued that guidelines were needed to avoid lawsuits against school districts.

"These board members are recklessly encouraging school districts to adopt a curriculum that will put those districts and their taxpayers in legal jeopardy and threaten the religious freedom of families to pass on their own faith beliefs to their children," said Dan Quinn of the TFN.

But the four board members emphasized they "have no desire or intention of prescribing a set Bible curriculum for individual school districts to use. Rather, it is our desire to see local districts maintain complete control concerning this discretionary subject matter."

In August, Attorney General Greg Abbott decided that Texas high schools are not required to offer the elective Bible course under a Bible study bill approved by the Legislature last year. While his legal opinion said schools must include some coverage of the Bible's impact on history and literature in their curriculum, they do not have to offer a separate Bible course unless a local school board chooses to do so.

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Texas education leaders back maligned Bible course

Associated Press
September 27, 2008
http://www.kxan.com/Global/story.asp?S=9084449
http://www.newschannel10.com/global/story.asp?s=9084449
http://www.woai.com/news/local/story.aspx?content_id=7f63acbe-f0b1-4364-863f-cb3713d75d85&rss=68

AUSTIN (AP) - Four State Board of Education members are promoting a Bible curriculum for Texas public schools that has been criticized as favoring certain Christian views and has already landed some districts in court.

An e-mail to school districts encouraged local control in deciding which Bible courses to adopt, but it went on to recommend a curriculum that some officials are predicting will lead to more lawsuits. The e-mail was sent by board members Terri Leo of Spring, Barbara Cargill of The Woodlands, Cynthia Dunbar of Richmond and Gail Lowe of Lampasas.

The e-mail threw its support behind the National Council On Bible Curriculum In Public Schools. Supporters say it has been successful in several school districts and meets state curriculum guidelines.

But Mark Chancey in the Southern Methodist University religion department says the curriculum favors Protestant perspectives of the Bible at the expense of others. He calls the e-mail "jaw dropping."

Lowe says the e-mail was an effort to inform and reaffirm that the curriculum has been around for a number of years and has always satisfied the state's requirements for electives. Leo, Cargill and Dunbar did not respond to requests for comment.

Last March, Odessa's Ector County Independent School District ended a lawsuit with a settlement requiring the school system to drop the national council's course.

Chancey says a Florida judge ruled against the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools 10 years ago.

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Texas education leaders back maligned Bible course

Corpus Christi, TX
http://www.kristv.com/global/story.asp?s=9084357

AUSTIN -- Four State Board of Education members are promoting a Bible curriculum for Texas public schools that has been criticized as favoring certain Christian views and has already landed some districts in court.

An e-mail to school districts encouraged local control in deciding which Bible courses to adopt, but it went on to recommend a curriculum that some officials are predicting will lead to more lawsuits. The e-mail was sent by board members Terri Leo of Spring, Barbara Cargill of The Woodlands, Cynthia Dunbar of Richmond and Gail Lowe of Lampasas.

"We recognize ... that the curriculum provided by the National Council On Bible Curriculum In Public Schools has been implemented successfully in numerous school districts within the state of Texas for years," they wrote in the e-mail.

Mark Chancey, chairman of Southern Methodist University's department of religious studies, said in Saturday's editions of the San Antonio Express-News and Houston Chronicle that the national council's curriculum "reflects a bias toward conservative Protestant perspectives of the Bible at the expense of other perspectives."

"It's absolutely jaw dropping," Chancey said of the e-mail.

Lowe said the e-mail was an effort to "inform and reaffirm that this curriculum has been around for a number of years and has always satisfied" the state's requirements for electives.

Leo, Cargill and Dunbar did not respond to requests for comment.

Last year, Texas lawmakers approved legislation making it easier for public school districts to teach a Bible course as an elective starting next year.

Chancey said about 10 Texas school districts used the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools courses in varying degrees during the 2005-06 school year, when he said he studied the curriculum.

Last March, Odessa's Ector County Independent School District ended a lawsuit with a settlement requiring the school system to drop the national council's course.

Lowe said it's possible a teacher in Odessa used the material inappropriately but that the course is sound. The Texas legislation requires proper teacher training for any Bible course.

A Florida judge ruled against the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools 10 years ago, Chancey said.

"They are promoting a Bible class curriculum that's going to get schools sued," said Dan Quinn of the Texas Freedom Network, an Austin organization that promotes religious freedom and individual liberties. "It's just reckless to mislead school districts and pretend that this curriculum is appropriate."


Texas Citizens for Science
Last updated: 2008 September 27