Conservatives have spent the last week whipping themselves into a frenzy over President Obama’s speech tomorrow in which he will indoctrinate the nation’s schoolchildren using the instruments of mass media.
As it turns out, Obama’s speech will be pretty anodyne. But one vocal critic of Obama’s plans, has long been involved in an effort to actually indoctrinate students — through the state-sanctioned textbooks they study all year.
Meet David Bradley, Republican member of the Texas State Board of Education from Beaumont.
Bradley is “one of the ring leaders” of the GOP-controlled board’s large and activist social conservative bloc, says Dan Quinn of the Texas Freedom Network, which describes itself as committed to fighting the religious right. And Bradley will undoubtedly vote for the skewed history textbook standards we told you about last week that focus on Reaganomics, Newt Gingrich, and Phyllis Schlafly, Quinn says.
In one infamous episode in the late 1990s, Bradley physically ripped apart an Algebra textbook because he was unhappy with pictures, recipes, references to women’s suffrage, and other subjects incorporated into the text.
In 2003, he voted with a minority of board members against new biology textbooks because they didn’t address “weaknesses” in evolution, according to a Texas Freedom Network report (.pdf).
And in a story on the Gingrich-based textbook standards, Bradley is described as “one of the conservative leaders” and “figures the current draft will pass a preliminary vote along party lines ‘once the napalm and smoke clear the room.’”
Bradley didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.
He clearly couldn’t resist jumping in the fray over Obama’s speech. To USA Today last week as the controversy was bubbling up, Bradley offered this advice to parents: “If you’re concerned, keep your kids home for the day.”
As David Carr points out, quoting Bradley in the New York Times, the keep-the-kids-home mantra was repeated ad nauseum on Fox News and elsewhere.
Bradley had this to say when asked by the Houston Chronicle about Obama’s speech:
“Under Texas statute, parents have the right to review all instructional materials. They also have the right to opt out their kids from any program they might object to,” he said, citing sex education as an example.
In any case, we look forward to Bradley speaking out clearly against partisanship in the classroom when the history standards come up for discussion next week.