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    Letters

    04/01/2001

    THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION AND OUR CHILDREN'S TEXTBOOKS
    Textbook irony
    The irony about the would-be textbook censors at Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy -- whom the editorial board correctly excoriates -- is that they profess, on the one hand, a commitment to free markets, yet, on the other, want to increase the monopoly power of government, through the State Board of Education, to edit and select textbooks.
    The reason is obvious: If the know-nothings had to defend their views in an open marketplace, going from community to community pressing their censorship campaign, they would be doomed to failure.
    Far better to exploit centralized government power in an effort to impose their backward views on a diverse population of more than 18 million Texans as a whole.
    BRIAN LEITER
    Director
    Law & Philosophy Program
    The University of Texas at Austin
    Good science
    It's no wonder that Texas ranks near last in public education when the state board appointed to oversee it couldn't pass a seventh-grade science test.
    Many believe the word "fact" implies that something can be known with absolute certainty to be true, when science teaches us the exact opposite.
    Absolute certainty is a pipe dream; a fact is "true" only to the extent that the most objective evidence has been presented to confirm it.
    Science regards biological evolution as fact only to that extent, and Darwin's explanation about its mechanisms dominates the paradigm only because all other competing theories have paled in comparison.
    Opponents of good science often ignore the best truth detector ever devised -- the scientific method.
    Of course, the fundamentalists on the State Board of Education are dead against teaching the type of critical thinking that good science requires, as it threatens their narrow view of the world and the foundations of their ideology.
    PAT DOYLE
    Austin
    Doing what's right
    The editorial of Nov. 14, where the editorial board tried to rally legions of liberals in Austin (assuming that there are legions of liberals left in Austin) to go to the hearings of the State Board of Education on textbook revisions, could have been written by the Texas Freedom Network.
    The editorial's biased characterization of Citizens for a Sound Economy was exactly how the TFN would have phrased it. Why would you put the word citizens in quotation marks? CSE is truly composed of citizens. I am a member, and I am indeed a "citizen." Like thousands of members of CSE in this state, I do not have a "religious" agenda, but I am concerned about the liberal bias that has existed in the textbooks that my children have read over the years.
    Thank God that the American-Statesman editorial board cannot intimidate, much less influence, the State Board of Education.
    ANGEL ABITUA
    Round Rock
    Honorable action
    I was gratified to read in the Nov. 15 American-Statesman that University of Texas President Larry Faulkner was recalling the university's official phone book due to "inappropriate advertisements."
    I am glad to see a man of his position in the community have the faith and integrity to publicly stand-up for what he believes is the right thing to do. Perhaps he will bring more of us out of the closet. Perhaps, some of our college students will learn from his example. Perhaps faith and integrity will return to the American way of life.
    W. H. "BILL" WIGGINS
    Coupland
    Classy lady
    I'm pretty sure I'm insulted by University of Texas President Larry Faulkner's "way too late" criticism of the Crazy Lady's ad in UT's phone directory.
    I am an old friend and admirer of Sid Tregre, owner of the Lady. I am also a woman who was not able to keep my own business going after the loss of my husband. Tregre helped me. She has not only managed to keep a business alive through Sept. 11, but is well-studied on many subjects she studied at UT.
    I wonder why Faulkner doesn't have the sense to admire this business owner? It seems to be the height of insult, and I'm not sure what Faulkner views as the way to treat a lady but he needs to study up.
    YO NEWBY
    Volente
    Hurting business
    Each time that I read about a city government proposing a public smoking ban, I am reminded of how fragile and cheap our personal liberties have become at the hands of these petty politicians. Whenever a ban of any product or service is imposed, our choices are diminished. A smoking ban is no exception.
    With no smoking ban in place, business owners have a choice as to whether to allow smoking in their establishments or not. Customers have a choice to smoke or not to smoke, or whether they will patronize an establishment that allows smoking or not.
    Nyle Maxwell, Round Rock's mayor and owner of several automobile dealerships throughout Texas, claims to preside over a pro-business City Council. Pro-business people do not diminish consumer choices.
    Considering that many more people have been injured or killed in automobiles than will ever be harmed by secondhand smoke, perhaps a limit on the number of units that he can sell would be in order?
    JACK C. MCKINNEY
    Cameron
    Mind your business
    Round Rock Mayor Nyle Maxwell thinks it's "fabulous" that "Gus (Garcia) is considering a leadership role in promoting a smoke-free environment in his restaurants." ("City inspired to revisit public smoking rules," Nov. 19).
    Since when did Austin bars and restaurants become the property of Gus Garcia and the City Council? Last I checked, they belonged to the people who owned and managed them.
    Anti-smoking ordinances may seem like a fine idea on the surface, but in fact they represent a serious assault on basic property rights. Our bureaucrats and public-health busybodies appear to know little about free enterprise and even less about fundamental liberties.
    If they don't like smoky restaurants they should patronize those that voluntarily offer a smoke-free environment -- and they should leave the rest of us alone.
    JAMES WERNER
    Austin
    Ready to help
    I thank the mayor and City Council of Round Rock for the courage to offer citizens an ordinance allowing them to breathe clean, safe, indoor air in all public places.
    Mayor Nyle Maxwell stated we should promote the positives of this ordinance and look -- he has already begun by working with Austin's Mayor Gus Garcia. He has offered to work with other mayors in the metropolitan Austin area. Now, that shows a progressive leader.
    Youth and Adults for Safe Air members would be more than proud to help the mayor and council promote Round Rock as a positive, progressive, proactive, probusiness, health-educated, family-first city. Wouldn't you be proud to have these words used to describe the city in which you reside?
    SUE PETERSON
    Austin
    No fighting, please
    As a Buda resident, I was appalled to read about a physical attack made on City Council Member Chuck Murphy (Nov. 16 "Former Buda mayor charged with assault"). A city planning meeting is an official gathering of professionals concerned over the city's affairs. Physical brutality has absolutely no place at such meetings.
    Keith Thornsberry's comparison with school-yard bullies lacks mature reasoning and adult responsibilities that ensue once we have left our youth. The article mentions Murphy receiving an award for his water-quality efforts. Murphy's track record reveals he has been instrumental in reviving and actively managing Buda's Master Plan.
    Some would rather discard the plan and, apparently, their frustration gets the best of them.
    JEFFERY S. BARNETT
    Buda

    on 11/24/02.