AUSTIN–The Texas Board of Education on Nov. 19 voted to sever ties with the nation’s primary trade association for state education boards, the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE).
The move made the Republican-dominated Texas education board the first state board to remove itself from the national group, whose policies, conservatives said, have a socially liberal agenda unrepresentative of most Texas school parents.
In a 10-5 vote along party lines, the Republican majority voted to pull its $40,000 in annual dues to NASBE. Now, the 15 members may attend educational meetings of their choosing, including NASBE, said board member Terri Leo, R-Spring, who attended the 2005 NASBE meeting and came away convinced the group doesn’t represent the Texas school board or Texas educators.
“We’re paying $40,000 a year to this organization and not getting anything back for it,” said Leo, who helped garner the votes to sever ties. “Some of the more moderate Republicans on the board took issue with the financial stewardship of paying for membership in an organization in which we do not have influence or representation.”
Leo told the TEXAN she and other conservative board members repeatedly were passed over for spots on the national organization’s subcommittees because of what she suspects are ideological differences.
“For me and other conservatives on the board, it was more of the same,” Leo said. “We continued to receive their publications advocating left-leaning positions,”
The last straw for her, she said, was the manner in which this year’s NASBE meeting’s focal issue, anti-bullying, was handled.
Funded by the United States Centers for Disease Control and led by a representative of the Seattle-based Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Questing (GLBTQ) Youth Program, Leo said the anti-bullying sessions sounded a very affirming tone toward the practice of homosexuality. She said when homosexuality was discussed in PowerPoint presentations, the overhead materials never matched what participants were given.
“They obviously did not want us to have a copy of what they were showing,” Leo said.
Often the content of such discussions is couched in the language of “tolerance” and “diversity” but involves a wider agenda of promoting the affirmation of homosexuality, she said.
The severance from NASBE will not affect the Texas school board or local school districts, Leo said, and individual state board members may attend any organization’s meetings if they choose.
“Texas doesn’t need NASBE. That’s really the bottom line here,” Leo said. “We really function independently anyway. We pay them to develop useful resources, and we are not getting what we pay for.”
Leo is a member of an Assembly of God church in the Houston suburb of Spring.
The GLBTQ’s website states its constituency as “gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans or questioning youth between the ages of 14-22 and those who work with this population (school personnel, counselors, foster parents, faith communities, etc).”
The GLBTQ also sponsors a Safe Schools Coalition, the website states, which “supports the empowerment and leadership of GLBTQ youth and their allies in undoing oppression to create a more peaceful and just world.”