AUSTIN, TX – Tuesday night’s Texas School Board of Education meeting was derailed by a political backlash.
Travis County Democratic Party Chair Katie Naranjo and Travis County Republican Party Public Education Accountability Chair Brian Talley join FOX 7’s Mike Warren to discuss the program’s most controversial inclusions.
Mike Warren: The State Board of Education held a meeting Tuesday night here in Austin, and the board discussed the future curriculum for social studies students. Major topics covered included critical race theory, LGBTQ topics, and American exceptionalism. Travis County Democratic Party Chair Katie Naranjo and Travis County Republican Party Public Education Accountability Chair Brian Talley are here to talk about it. Brian, starting with you, what do you think of this problem?
BRIAN TALLEY: Well, we were delighted to see the motion that was presented yesterday. The opportunity to dedicate more time to collaboration and cooperation among board members to find a better solution that focuses on areas that I believe are more important to our Texas values, which focus solely on the Texas concept, the Texas Constitution, and essential knowledge and skills, and honor public schools as safe spaces for people who identify as progressive as well as people who celebrate conservative values and traditional.
Mike Warren: Katie, what do you think of this discussion so far? How’s it going?
KATIE NARANJO: Looks like the Republicans keep trying to whitewash our history. What is exceptional about America is that we have a long history that is also somewhat painful. It is very painful for the communities and the ethnic groups who were enslaved, who were put in camps during the Second World War, who were told that their identity should not exist and does not exist. And sadly, we have to acknowledge these hard truths and this hard history not to repeat them. And so we can celebrate the contributions of so many people in our community who are diverse to what makes America great.
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Mike Warren: You know, Brian, something else, the topic of LGBTQ topics being taught, came up last night. One of the participants said that she did not think the subject needed to be discussed and that it was not appropriate. What do you think of that?
BRIAN TALLEY: I think it’s a really big topic in terms of identity and the ways people identify with themselves and who they are as a person. And so, what I think is important, number one, is that we support our public schools, our teachers and our administration. And number two, that we love and appreciate children. We want public schools to be a safe and politically neutral space for them to learn and cooperate. And, you know, with all the diverse people in our state and country, we want them to succeed, prosper, and live fruitful and hopefully happy lives. And that will come through a politically neutral environment in our public schools.
KATIE NARANJO: I’m sorry, I have to jump in here, Brian. Do you believe that racism exists and has existed in this country? It’s not political.
BRIAN TALLEY: Of course, I believe history should be taught. And unfortunately, in today’s political environment, all the oxygen has been sucked out of the room by hardened political activists who want to assert their particular form of politics to all the children in our schools, including people who identify themselves in different ways. And this is not respected. And it must be.
KATIE NARANJO: And our country’s contributions come from immigrants, women, men, people who identify as non-binary, people who are Muslim and Jewish and black, white, brown, Asian, etc. And then why is it political? As a parent, I’m a parent here in Texas and in Travis County, actually. And I want my kids to know the contributions of Asian Americans and immigrants and what makes America great. I mean, that’s what we’re founded on as a nation of immigrants. And that is its strength.
Mike Warren: OK. It’s okay- it’s an ongoing debate. We’re going to have to suspend for now because we’re out of time. But we can say that 70% of fourth graders in the state of Texas cannot read at their grade level. So we’ll leave it there. Brian, Katie, thank you very much.
KAITE AND BRIAN: Thanks.