Ken Mercer San Antonio Op-Ed
Thank you for allowing me to respond to your editorial in which you referred to me as a conservative ‘zealot” on the State Board of Education (SBOE).
True, I will not always agree 100% with academic “experts” who come before the SBOE. True, there is a “culture war” of political ideology and philosophy, especially in the area of new standards for American History, Government, and Economics.
It might interest members of the Chamber of Commerce to know that “experts” had deleted every reference to the free enterprise and free market system in the K through Grade 12 draft version of the Social Studies standards.
Because I certainly could not agree with these “experts,” I successfully brought forward and passed the amendment, complying with Texas law, to restore the teaching of the positive benefits of the free market for creating jobs and opportunities.
Another example: A panel of university “experts,” led by a professor from the University of Texas at El Paso, voted 8-1 against American Exceptionalism. When I questioned that action at a public SBOE hearing, the “expert” immediately launched into a lecture about how wonderful Socialism is in a “good democracy.
When I asked the UTEP professor for his example of a good democracy, he replied “Venezuela.” I reminded him that the President of Venezuela has made sure that the state has control of every newspaper, radio, and television station in that country.
One Ph.D. “expert” testified that “high school students are unqualified to ask questions.” I countered that if our children are no longer allowed to raise their hands in class and ask honest questions, then we are no longer living in a place called the United States of America.
A professor from the University of Texas at Austin shared a survey that included 51 professors from the History Department. Fifty answered “Democrat” when asked their political affiliation.
While we SBOE members were searching for examples of good role models for our minority students, one “expert” pushed for a current board member of the Democrat Socialist Party of America. My amendment deleted the Socialist and added Navy Seaman Philip Bazaar, the first Hispanic recipient of the Medal of Honor, and Army Sgt. William Carney, the first African-American recipient of the Medal of Honor.
Finally, “experts” deleted Veteran’s Day, Independence Day, and the Liberty Bell from the Grades 3-4 Social Studies standards. “Experts” also raised a concern about the use of the word “patriot” in the new standards.
My fellow Conservatives and I carried the amendments to restore the coverage of Veteran’s Day, Independence Day, and the Liberty Bell along with many other essential historical elements of America’s history, such as including the word “patriot.”
I also voted to ensure that from K-12, as age appropriate, our students will actually read and study the authorship and purpose of the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution. Our Texas school students will also study the impact those documents had on such historical milestones as the Emancipation Proclamation and women’s suffrage.
I am sad to report that too many university “experts” range from being America bashers to America haters. Unfortunately this editorial board blindly sides only with those types of “experts.”
I often state, “The Far Left is scared to death of a place called Texas.” Why? Texas has an elected SBOE, not a politically appointed board.
I am a representative of 1.8 million constituents in a very conservative district, and I am not a rubber stamp for the agenda being directed at our public school students by the “Far Left zealots.”
Member: Texas State Board of Education
Former Member: Texas State House