Politics derail Texas State Board of Education meeting

The Texas School Board of Education meeting Tuesday night was derailed by political blowback.

Katie Naranjo, chair of the Travis County Democratic Party, and Brian Talley, the Public Education Accountability chair of the Travis County Republican Party join FOX 7's Mike Warren to discuss the more controversial curriculum inclusions.

MIKE WARREN: The State Board of Education held a meeting Tuesday night here in Austin, and the board discussed the future curriculum for students learning social studies. Major topics discussed included critical race theory, LGBTQ subjects and American exceptionalism. Here to talk about this is Katie Naranjo, the chair of the Travis County Democratic Party, and Brian Talley, the Public Education Accountability chair of the Travis County Republican Party. Brian, starting with you, what do you make of this issue?

BRIAN TALLEY: Well, we were pleased to see the motion that was made yesterday. The opportunity to spend some more time for collaboration and cooperation among the board members to come up with a better solution that focuses on really areas that I think are more important to to our Texas values, which is really just focusing on the Texas concept, the Texas Constitution, and the essential knowledge and skills, and honoring public schools as safe spaces for people who identify as progressive as well as people who celebrate conservative and traditional values.

MIKE WARREN: Katie, what do you make of this discussion so far? How is it going?

KATIE NARANJO: Sounds like the Republicans are continuing to want to whitewash our history. The thing that is exceptional about America is that we do have a long history that is also somewhat painful. It is very painful for communities and ethnicities that were enslaved, that were put in camps during World War II, that were told that their identity should not exist and does not exist. And unfortunately, we have to recognize those hard truths and that hard history so we don't repeat it. And so we can celebrate the contributions of so many in our community that are diverse to what makes America great.

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MIKE WARREN: You know, Brian, something else, the subject of LGBTQ topics being taught, was brought up last night. One of the attendees said she didn't think the subject should be addressed and wasn't appropriate. What do you think of that?

BRIAN TALLEY: I think that is a subject that's really important in terms of the identity and ways people identify themselves and identify 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 value the kids. We want the public schools to be a safe space that's politically neutral for them to learn and to cooperate. And, you know, with all the diverse people in our state and country, we want them to succeed and thrive and live a fruitful and hopefully a happy life. 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? That's not political.

BRIAN TALLEY: Of course, I believe that 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 onto all the kids in our schools, including people that maybe identify in different ways. And that's not being respected. And that needs to be.

KATIE NARANJO: And the contributions of our country comes from immigrants, women, men, people who identify as non-binary, people who are Muslim and Jewish and Black, white, brown, Asian, etc.. And so why is that political? As a parent, I'm a parent here in Texas and Travis County, actually. And I want my kids to know about the contributions of Asian-Americans and immigrants and what makes America great. I mean, that's what we are founded on as a nation of immigrants. And that's what makes this strong.

MIKE WARREN: All right. It's going to- it's a continuing debate. We're going to have to suspend for right now because we're out of time. But but we can say that 70% of fourth graders in the state of Texas cannot read to their grade level. So we'll leave it at that. Brian, Katie, thank you very much.