Accidentally banned

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see?

Not the book with "very strong critiques of capitalism and the American system."

The Dallas Morning News has reported that the State Board of Education has (apparently) accidentally removed the wrong book. Apparently, a SBOE member confused Bill Martin Jr. (author of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? (and several other bear-themed books) with Bill Martin (author of Ethical Marxism: The Categorical Imperative of Liberation). I understand that it’s hard to research every book you want to ban. However, it’s relatively easy to spot the differences between the two and I’m not sure why anyone would think they came from the same author.  Brown Bear weighs in at 32 pages and is richly illustrated by Eric Carle. Ethical Marxism runs 480 pages and doesn’t seem to have any pictures of animals. It took me less than a minute to sort this out.

I have sympathy for the authors in this situation (Bill Martin Jr. passed away a few years ago). There are several Kenneth Colliers and one writes about politics and has a distinctly conspiratorial view of American politics. That’s not me. I occasionally get fan mail for the other Kenneth and now I’m wondering if I’ll end up on someone’s banned list because of his views.

Cover of Ethical Marxism

Not a rhyming book about bears, frogs, and other animals.

I’ll leave others to wrangle over the battle between the left and right’s view of political correctness. The broader issue is in government is how our government functions and what the liabilities and advantages of such boards.

Part-time boards like the SBOE are going to make mistakes like this. “Citizen” government means part-time, amateur government. While some voters seem to relish criticizing “experts,” you have to admit that experts wouldn’t confuse these two books.

We’ve also seen conflict of interest and partisanship run wild in the SBOE. This is the dynamic you get when people run under party labels, take campaign funds from special interests, and seek the office to become the political watchdogs for their ideology. By now we’ve learned that the problems can come from members of both parties. When the selection process a partisan battle you’re going to produce a partisan governing process. Does that really benefit anyone?

Should we stop electing the State Board of Education?  One possibility is letting the governor appoint the board. Texans have resisted giving more power to the governor. However, that might be a better option than leaving the choice to an inattentive public in a partisan election.


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