Someone who is qualified for a job is generally expected to have sufficient capacity, passion, knowledge, experience and skill that matches or suits the position they seek and makes them eligible for an office or position. In fact, qualification can be thought of as denoting fitness for a job through the fulfillment of necessary conditions such as education, training, and a high degree of experience in the appropriate discipline. It is obvious that the owner of a professional sports franchise, say a National Football League team, would only hire a hair-stylist who detests, and has never played, the game of football as a general manager and head coach if they wanted their team to fail miserably. That is an absurd idea, but it is precisely what two religious Republican governors who want to decimate their state’s public education system did in appointing evangelical anti-public education fanatics to run their state’s public school systems.
There is a predilection among Republican governors devoted to a theocratic America to transfer taxpayer money set aside for public schools to private evangelical madrassas to both keep their residents ignorant and indoctrinate them in neo-Christian dogmata and superstition. This week, Alabama Republican Governor Robert Bentley followed Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s lead and appointed a fiercely anti-public school Christian fundamentalist to lead the Alabama Board of Education to transform the state’s public education system into a 12-year Christian indoctrination camp for Alabama children. But, one might say, at least the Alabama governor chose an evangelical freak who has passion, knowledge, and at least a decade of experience in public education that qualifies him to control the state’s public education system, but that is not the case.
The 28-year old fundamentalist Christian, Matthew Brown, who is running Alabama’s public school system is a highway designer who attended a Christian college. He has never set foot in or attended a public school in his evangelical life. He also believes public education is an abomination before his god and says he will never allow his children to get near a public school. Brown is also renown for his illegal campaign to defund Alabama’s public education system; what Alabama governor Bentley considers excellent qualifications to run the Board of Education. According to Bentley, the leader of the Board of Education’s fundamentalist Christian ‘education’ and hatred of public schools is consistent with the Republican Party’s political philosophy that will allow him to “bring a unique perspective to the Board of Education.” Last year, the new Education leader was successful in a drive to cut education funding and defeat an education improvement tax to purposely put a monumental strain on Alabama’s education resources. Brown also fits nicely with Republican philosophy because according to Alabama’s Secretary of State, he violated several provisions of the state’s Fair Campaign Practices Act like any proper and highly motivated evangelical Republican.
Regardless Brown’s record of religious bias against the public education system, and against the advice of his staff and state education leaders, Governor Bentley appointed the unqualified, inexperienced, openly hostile 28-year-old in charge of public education because “Brown is a young man after Bentley’s own heart.” Since being elected in 2010, Bentley has signed legislation transferring over $30 million a year away from public schools to private evangelical school voucher programs. Bentley signed another law that allows private religious charter schools to open across Alabama and gave them sole authority to approve new religious charter schools over the objection of local school boards. Plus, despite his new Education chief has no education experience except attending a Christian college, Bentley is enamored with Brown because “he believes in Jesus.” That “Jesus qualified” designation is tantamount to allowing an fourth grader to perform brain surgery because they saw a microscope on television, but in Alabama and Texas belief in Jesus qualifies one to lead the public schools.
The new head of Texas Education Department is as unqualified as Brown with stellar qualifications amounting to being a Christian fundamentalist who home-schooled her children in the biblical arts. Texas Governor Greg Abbott appointed the Christian home-school mom and (Jerry Fallwell’s) Liberty University graduate Donna Bahorich because her experience with public schools is abhorring public education not founded on bible superstition. Apparently, Abbott felt the need to replace former evangelical creationist Don McLeroy because he failed to completely abolish science education in Texas schools. He did, however, approve textbooks teaching that biblical Moses helped the Founding Fathers write the U.S. Constitution along with several other gems of Christian revisionisms regarding the role of the bible in America’s founding and history.
The president of the Texas Freedom Network, Kathy Miller said that “If Gov. Abbott wanted to demonstrate that he won’t continue his predecessors’ efforts to politicize and undermine our state’s public schools, this appointment falls far short. This is the person who’s ultimately responsible for decisions that’ll affect children across the state. She’s someone who doesn’t understand science or history and whose own background has little to do with education policy. The governor appointed an ideologue that guarantees the board will continue to put culture war agendas ahead of educating more than 5 million Texas kids.”
Even a prominent Republican from Mt. Pleasanton who is also on the state school board, Thomas Ratliff, was critical of Abbot’s appointment and condemned the choice of a fundamentalist with absolutely no experience whatsoever in public education. Ratliff said, “Public school isn’t for everybody, but when 94-percent of our students in Texas attend public schools I think it ought to be a baseline requirement that the chair of the State Board of Education have at least some experience in that realm, as a parent, teacher, something.”
One pundit summed up Abbott’s choice to lead the state’s Education system by saying, “What did you expect Abbott to do? Appoint someone who actually knows what he or she is doing? He doesn’t have that in him. He’d rather screw over millions of teenagers trying to get an education comparable to what kids get in other more competitive states than upset his religious base.” Abbott has quickly established a record of not standing up to his “base” whether they are anti-science and anti-education religious fanatics or conspiracy-freaks afraid that President Obama is sending the United States military to overthrow and conquer Texas.
Both Abbott’s and Bentley’s appointments of highly unqualified religious fanatics with no experience in public education is founded on their desire to abolish public schools and replace them with a taxpayer-funded evangelical madrassa system; a two-fold assault on America. First, misappropriating taxpayer dollars for biblical instruction is patently unconstitutional, and second, it is another tactic to wipe out America’s public education system as part of their crusade toward government by theocracy. A crusade, by the way, that most in government are terrified of challenging because god, Jesus, and bible apparently supersede the U.S. Constitution, or government officials would put a stop to it.
In Texas’ case, an incompetent religious fanatic as Board of Education chairperson is a certain means of perpetuating the indoctrination of 5 million children every year to deny history and science and remain as ignorant and stupid as the current generation. Republicans thrive on perpetuating incompetence and ignorance in their crusade to keep Americans in poverty because children without an education are doomed to low-wage jobs. Even Republicans are well-aware that employers looking for prospective employees competent in superstition and archaic mythos are few and far between; except in Texas and Alabama where inexperience and belief in fairy tales will get one appointed head of the state Board of Education.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.