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Texas Public Schools Will Get More Money If They Use Biblical Curriculum

Texas public schools could soon get a $60 per student bonus if the use a curriculum pushed by state Republicans that includes overt Biblical content.

On Thursday, members of the public addressed the Texas State Board of Education with concerns that the new curriculum, if adopted, was discriminatory because of its obvious bias toward Christianity. Robert Norris, the founder of Grandfathers for Public Schools, pointed out that incorporating almost exclusively Christian texts was essentially subtle indoctrination.

“This could easily lead students to believe that this religion … is the best and most important one in the world,” Norris said. “That kind of messaging does not belong in our public schools.”

Other speakers who came from Christian faith-based organizations praised the curriculum.

The proposed curriculum uses Christian mythology for a variety of lessons. The parable of the Good Samaritan is included in some social studies units, and a section on the Liberty Bell is compared to God freeing the Israelites.

This push for more Christian messaging in Texas schools is part of a long radical rightward shift. The state elected to create its own textbooks and curriculum in 2022 after a study showed teachers spend an inordinate amount of time crafting their lessons, and the process has been almost entirely dominated by state Republicans.

The 2024 Republican Party of Texas’s platform explicitly calls for the State Board of Education to require Biblical lessons in public school as well as units on “Christian self-governance.” This is somewhat ironically placed under “Religious Freedom” in their agenda.

Even without the platform, much of the evolution in educational policy coming from the Texas GOP over the last several years has been Christian nationalist in nature. The push for a school voucher system (where taxpayers pay for parents to send children to mostly wealthy Christian schools) has been consistently wrapped as a way for conservative Christians to segregate their children from LGBT issues and lessons on white supremacy for free.

While the State Board of Education cannot outright demand school districts adopt this curriculum, they can incentivize it. An additional $60 per student equals roughly one new teacher salary per 800 students. This is no small thing at a time when increases to the current allotment in school funding is being held hostage by Governor Greg Abbott until the legislature passes his voucher plan.

Until the state can use public school money to send kids to church, it is trying to send church to public school kids in the form of the new curriculum. While the inclusion of the Biblical lessons remains  modest, it still represents further erosion of secular learning in Texas.

The board will make a final decision on the curriculum in November. Meanwhile, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick has already vowed to push mandatory posting of the Biblical 10 Commandments in classrooms following a similar law passed in Louisiana last month.

Jef Rouner
Jef Rouner
Jef Rouner is an award-winning freelance journalist, the author of The Rook Circle, and a member of The Black Math Experiment. He lives in Houston where he spends most of his time investigating corruption and strange happenings. Jef has written for Houston Press, Free Press Houston, and Houston Chronicle.


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