This past week the Texas board of education stopped an effort by teachers groups to hijackthe statewide English curriculum and instead turned the job over to Washington DC based Consultant StandardsWork. There is a reason that we have modeled so much of our countrys educational sytem after Texas and it is impressive moves like this to keep educational policy in the hands of professionals and away from special interests like teachers groups that we as a nation must applaud. The meeting began when a proposal the teachers had been working on for the past 3 years was roundly rejected by the State Board of Educations social conservative block 9-6. Many on the board were resentful that the teachers had been working behind the scenes over the past 3 years with educational consultants to devise their plan. Cynthia Dunbar, R-Richmond, said some teachers and their supporters subverted the process of writing the curriculum standards by working behind the scenes to influence the final version of the plan. We dont want to say were not listening to teachers, but I am very frustrated, she said. This process has become a joke and mockery. Fortunately, with litle time the State Board of Education was able to call up Republican Education Consultants StandardsWork to draft a new curriculum. According to StandardsWork the thing that seperates the company from others is its Customized, grassroots approach to reform initiatives. According to StandardsWorks company website the seeds of StandardsWork were planted in 1991 when [Leslye] Arsht helped U.S. Department of Education Secretary Lamar Alexander promote America 2000. That initiative was then-President George H. W. Bushs campaign to engage communities in education reform. One of the six national education goals reflected in that strategy was that American students leave grades four, eight, and twelve having demonstrated competency in challenging subject matter including English, mathematics, science, history and geography. Fortunately, the Board of Education in Texas did the right thing by going with a group that has been at the forefront of the educational success of the last 14 years rather than the teachers who continue to be a lodestone around the neck of our sinking schools. Youd think everybody would see the wisdom of this decision, but youd be wrong. Some board members and teachers complained. The state board is split between members who respect the opinions of teachers and education experts and other members who clearly dont, said Kathy Miller, president of the education watchdog group Texas Freedom Network. So this board is increasingly unable to complete tasks with efficiency and a respect for informed debate and expert opinion. How am I supposed to vote on a document when Ive had it in my hands for slightly over an hour? asked angered board member Mary Helen Berlanga, a Democrat from Corpus Christi. How are we supposed to reply to our constituents? I dont understand that. I cant support a document that I havent had a chance to read. I find its really wild that we can work for three years on a project and then the board is so qualified they can pull it out of their hat overnight, said board member Pat Hardy, a Fort Worth Republican who, like other board members, received the substituted document when it was slipped under her hotel door less than an hour before their meeting was set to convene Friday morning. This is a reading curriculum lady. If youre making the decisions and you cant read a simple 100 page document in an hour than maybe you shouldnt be involved in the process in the first place. This is an important blow for the type of top down educational reform that President Bush has been trying to bring to this country for the past 8 years. I applaud the Texas Board for picking consultants who know what theyre talking about over the special interest teacher groups.