Your district’s State Board of Education seat is on the ballot. Here’s why you should care – Houston Public Media

Given this, it can be assumed that voters watched the 15 races of the Texas Board of Education particularly closely. But usually this is not the case.

“Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t pay attention to the state board of education, but they really should,” said former Dallas ISD board member Ron Price. “The only time you hear about the state council is when they want to change some language in our history or science textbooks.”

Despite the power and influence of Texas Board of Education members on public education, voter turnout is generally low, especially in primaries.

Price believes this would have changed if more people had better understood the role of the board.

“I would probably say that 95 to 98% of all Texans – not just in Texas, but in most states – don’t know what the State Education Council is doing. The Council of State is so critical, ”added Price, who is now on the board of regents of the University of Texas South.

So what do members of the State Board of Education do? Here’s what the Texas Education Agency says:

The State Board of Education (SBOE) sets policies and standards for Texas public schools. SBOE’s main responsibilities include:

  • Setting curriculum standards
  • Consideration and acceptance of training materials
  • Establishing requirements for graduation
  • Supervising the Texas Permanent School Foundation
  • Appointment of board members to military reserves and special school districts
  • Ensuring final review of the rules proposed by the State Council for Teacher Certification
  • Consideration of the Commissioner’s proposed award of new statutory schools with the right to veto the recommended applicant.

The term lasts four years, each district has an average of 1.8 million Texans, and the office is partisan.

What to look for in an SBOE candidate.

KERA asked the expert who does pay attention to the State Board of Education on how best to evaluate candidates seeking a position. Catherine Robert teaches at the University of Texas at Arlington and has written an article on the responsibilities of members of the State Board of Education.

Most of all, Robert said the candidate “should be grateful for understanding the enormous complexity of the Texas State School education system, the wide variety of students we serve, and the inherent value and challenges in this wide range of programs we offer.” .

They should also have strong experience in one of three areas: curriculum, finance or school initiative.

“And they need to be able to contribute to two other areas,” Robert added.

Robert understands that some voters may go to the polls guided by party agendas such as widely publicized topics such as book bans or the new state CRT law.

But she stressed that “the work of the Council of State is much more than these topics that we hear so much about.”

Former Dallas school board member Miguel Solis also told KERA that a candidate involved in one politically charged issue may not be the most informed or qualified candidate. For example, Solis calls the debate with the CRT a straw man.

“I worked in the school system, was a teacher, was a central administrator. How [CRT] the conversation is fake – it’s insincere talk, and it’s hyper-partisan, “he said.

Solis taught 8th a class of American history and a section of reconstruction, the period immediately following the U.S. Civil War. Under current state law banning CRTs, he says teachers are shivering because they are worried that mentions of historical facts they used to teach may now be illegal.

“Second, if you start to jeopardize the loyalty of the pedagogical process for teachers to students, you are jeopardizing the child’s learning,” Solis added.

Early voting in the primaries will last until February 25. Election day is March 1.

This story originally appeared in KERA News and was made possible by the generosity of its participants. If you find this report valuable, think about it make a gift that is not taxable today. Thank you.

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