One of my responsibilities in this position is to cover the State Board of Education. I monitor the full board, as well as the Committee on Instruction.
When I arrived at the January meeting, the chatter in the room seemed quite happy. New board members were sworn in, and it looked as though the board would take a more sensible approach to things.
This was a conundrum for me. I watch a lot of meetings. Many of the meetings…lack anything interesting. We cover them to make sure nothing bad happens under our watch.
So I did kind of enjoy, in a guilty way, the circus that was the State Board of Education. On the good side, meetings would take less time. The chairs we sit in are uncomfortable, and this new approach would give me more time to do other things. Like blog.
That didn’t happen, though.
Usually, the board takes up the Board Operating Procedures and approves them pretty quickly. This time, though, new members had things they wanted changed. They threw many amendments out to the board, and almost all amendments were rejected. The two that did pass were (1) they would not allow signs in the gallery; and (2) seating would be determined by seniority, not district number.
It was funny watching them stumble around the inner circle. The whole scene looked like a cross between musical chairs and a white elephant gift exchange.
Then came the Committee on Instruction. One of the new members wanted a better definition of “expert.” The board uses experts to review new TEKS. During the Social Studies debacle, the board appointed a minister and a former vice-chair of the Republican Party as “experts.” The committee voted 3-2 to send a watered-down version of the term to the full board on the last day.
That led to another heated debate, which led to another heated debate, which led to another.
The good news is that this board remains interesting.
The bad news is that my neck is going to hurt a lot from sitting in those chairs again.