The State Board of Education–Episode II: The Revenge of the Sith

According to an article in the Houston Chronicle, Rick Perry is considering Cynthia Dunbar at the new chair of the State Board of Education. This comes after the Texas Senate rejected Perry’s nomination of Don McLeroy.

Dunbar has done more than her share to bring attention the SBOE. In a column she suggested that Obama’s election is “the end of America as we know her.” Dunbar went on to suggest that there will be an attack on America by terrorists and it will be “a planned effort by those with whom Obama truly sympathizes to take down the America that is threat to tyranny.” From this, she speculates, Obama will launch martial law. Dunbar claimed she was writing as a “private citizen.” That reminder seems unnecessary since almost no public (or private institution) seemed to want to claim her. Even the website that originally published her rant (www.christianworldviewnetwork.com) removed it from their site.

As it turns out, Rick Perry may want to claim her.

Dunbar has other interesting views. The Chronicle points out that in a book published last year (One Nation Under God: How the Left is Trying to Erase What Made Us Great), Dunbar argues the founders created “an emphatically Christian government” and that should be guided by a “biblical litmus test.” A  press release from Texas Freedom Network graciously pointed out that on page 100 Dunbar describes public education a “subtly deceptive tool of perversion.” The Ft. Worth Star Telegram reports that Dunbar points out that she explains the characterization in the chapter and, “I also go on at the end of the chapter and say that I do not believe that it would be responsible to dismantle a system that educates more than 80 percent of the children in this country.”

Fellow SBOE members argue that her views have nothing to do with education policy. However, her writing reveals a contempt for America’s courts when she complains about “the attack this great Country undergoes on a daily basis from our own militant leftist Judicial Branch.” (Obviously, she missed the fact that Reagan, Bush 41, and Bush 43 did a pretty good job of appointing conservatives to today’s courts.) Whatever worldview shaped her rant against Obama and the courts will be behind other other decisions. It’s hard to see how she has the credibility to effectively lead the board.

I haven’t read the book (And, I’m not going to buy it. When I take  a break from my political science reading I’m going to read something fun). However, it’s hard to not be concerned by any description of the public education system as “tyrannical” and a claim that “the underlying authority for our constitutional form of government stems directly from biblical precedents.” Dunbar is consistent in her beliefs and has relied on home schooling and private schools to educate her children. What seems odd to me is that someone who rejects the legitimacy of public education’s role in the lives of families (page 102) would seek and exercise exactly this authority as a public official.

To be fair, the SBOE has been embarrassed before. Texas Monthly even put together a fun quiz about the innovative ideas emanating from SBOE members. Dunbar isn’t the only character on the Board. However, she may be the most interesting

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