Testimony of Carol Jones: Texas State Board of Education Testimony

Good Morning. My name is Carol Jones and I would like to address proposed amendments to Adoption Procedures for Proclamation 2000.

Last year, I along with a group of other citizens reviewed science textbooks proposed for adoption. Although official review teams and Texas A&M University had reviewed these books, citizens brought to your attention a magnitude of errors which had not been addressed in either review process. So citizen input obviously can provide a nice compliment to other reviews being done and I think it is safe to say that mostly the SBOE welcomed our input and we all appreciated that.

Citizen input is valuable for many reasons. Not the least of which is that citizen input is not influenced by anything except a sincere desire to educate their children so that they as the Texas Education Code Sec 28 states be “thoughtful, active citizens who understand the importance of patriotism and can function productively in a free enterprise society with appreciation for the basic democratic values of our state and national heritage.”

Citizen input is also valuable because citizens are the electorate. The electorate elect people to represent their diverse interests. They do not elect official review panels or staff. So it is important that the elected not only hear from those who are hired to assist in the review process but also from their constituents.

It is difficult for citizens to contribute to this process many times because they have full time jobs, are taking care of their families etc. However, as we saw last year several hundred people took the time to review textbooks, testify, call you with their concerns or call the Governor’s office.

Last year there were 51 books up for review. This year there are 236 books and there are still only two copies of each book in each of 13 service centers.

An average citizen will take one month to completely review a textbook if he does this after working hours. With only two plus months (the time from April 26 to whenever the public hearing is in July) to review textbooks, approximately two citizens will be able to review each textbook from any one service center.

Although citizen groups started early this year, we know that our task will be a difficult one. However, if the time frame for citizen input is shortened by two months as is proposed, our task will be darn near impossible.

I met yesterday with a large group of citizens who were members of various organizations and some who were not. We all agreed that we if the amendment to the adoption procedure is passed, this will seriously hinder our input.

In summary, citizen input is a right of people who elect their representatives and pay taxes to support the process. In addition, citizens also appreciate the constraints under which their elected officials sometimes have to operate. In light of that we do understand your need to allow more time for the SBOE to review the final publisher’s text before voting on textbooks.

We believe, however that adjustments for this can be more easily made by the TEA and the SBOE than by citizens who have limited time and resources.

I would urge you to consider not adopting the proposed amendment and allow citizens adequate time for input.

I thank you for your time and consideration of our request.

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