Voters made the wrong decision by re-electing Ken Mercer to his spot on the State Board of Education.
The State Board of Education makes decisions about spending, policies, academic standards and textbooks within the Texas public school system. The board has a huge influence on the quality of education in Texas schools.
Ken Mercer, who lacks a background in education, is part of the board’s right-wing faction. The faction is largely bent on injecting its religious and conservative philosophies into public school curriculum.
Mercer is a proponent of teaching the “weaknesses” of evolution: “intelligent design” arguments that were debunked years ago. With crafty wording in the education standards, he and some other strong conservatives have sought to undermine the teaching of evolution.
In a 2008 San Antonio Express-News column, Mercer concedes “micro-evolution” but asserts that “macro-evolution,” the diversifying of animals until a new species is formed, cannot be real.
“Have you ever seen a dog-cat or a cat-rat?” he asks in the article.
Mercer has drawn the ire of historians and scholars because of revisions he advocated for in the state’s social studies curriculum. Mercer has pushed for patriotic themes and emphasized the Christian religion of the founding fathers. At the same time, he has downplayed discrimination against minority groups in American history.
He proposed teaching students that taxation and government regulations are bad for the economy, which is a conservative notion that oversimplifies the economy’s many moving parts.
And yet, Mercer insists it is “education bureaucrats” who are indoctrinating school children with their leftist ideologies. What exactly is he doing, then?
It is vital for classrooms to teach evolution as science. It is similarly crucial to include the place of minorities in history and make realistic lessons about the challenges and failures America has faced over time. There are plenty of issues that deserve debate for inclusion into curriculum, but these are not among them.
Meanwhile, Mercer defeated Rebecca Bell-Metereau, a Texas State English professor, for a second time.
Bell-Metereau was truly a worthwhile candidate. Texas State has bestowed numerous awards on her for teaching, including theAward for Excellence and the Presidential Award for Excellence. Contrary to what Mercer thinks, having a background in education is absolutely helpful when deciding on major points of school curriculum and policy.
Additionally, she wants to stop the micromanagement of school curriculum and set policies that encourage teachers to be creative and innovative, instead of having them “teach the test.”
It is a shame that she lost, but voters should be more informed of each candidate’s policies before casting their ballots in any future election. Next election season, District 5 should elect someone who can adequately represent constituents on the State Board of Education.