Dunbar Strikes Again

Board of Education member has book out attacking public education

Cynthia Dunbar
Cynthia Dunbar

State Board of Education member Cynthia Dunbar is stirring up controversy again. You remember her: The creationism-supporting board member from Richmond represents SBOE District 10 (which includes the northern half of Travis County) and just a few days before the presidential election published an editorial repeating the "Obama was not born in America" conspiracy theory and warned that if elected, he might declare martial law.

Now, Dunbar is under attack from the Texas Freedom Network for her new book, One Nation Under God.

TFN, a nonpartisan nonprofit that works to counter the religious right in Texas, called today for Dunbar to be removed from the SBOE's Committee on Instruction – which advises the board on curriculum and textbook adoptions – because she is in fact an opponent of public education. As evidence, TFN cites passages in the book where Dunbar – who home-schools her own children, and was elected in 2006 – calls public education a "subtly deceptive tool of perversion," says the creation of public schools is unconstitutional, and "the Scriptures bear witness to such an institution’s lack of proper authority in the life of the Christian family."

We haven't read Dunbar's book yet, but we're certainly looking forward to getting a copy now.

“A fire chief wouldn’t knowingly hire an arsonist in the department,” said TFN's Kathy Miller. “It’s just as hard to imagine many voters knowingly supporting for the State Board of Education an extremist who despises the public schools nearly everybody’s kids except her own attend.”

In a related note, Asbury United Methodist Church (1605 E. 38 1/2 Street) is hosting a free showing of the documentary Kansas vs. Darwin on Friday, December 5, 7-9pm. The doc details the fight between evolutionists and creationists in Kansas' public schools.

Here's TFN's full press release:

SBOE Chair Should Remove Dunbar from Instruction Committee

Board Member’s New Book Attacks Public Education as a ‘Tool of Perversion,’ ‘Unconstitutional’ and ‘Tyrannical’

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE December 4, 2008

The State Board of Education’s chairman should remove Cynthia Dunbar, R-Richmond, from the panel’s Committee on Instruction following the publication of a new book in which she attacks a public education system she helps govern, the Texas Freedom Network’s president said today.

“It's bad enough that she wants to use our children's schools to promote ideological agendas that are far outside the mainstream,” [Kathy] Miller said. “But she has really crossed a line here. The chairman should assure parents that he will shield the public school curriculum and our children’s education from extremists like Ms. Dunbar.”

In her book, One Nation Under God (Onward, 2008), Dunbar (on p. 100) calls public education a “subtly deceptive tool of perversion.” She charges that the establishment of public schools is unconstitutional and even “tyrannical” because it threatens the authority of families, granted by God through Scripture, to direct the instruction of their children (p. 103) Dunbar, who has home-schooled her children and sent them to private schools, bases that charge on her belief that “the underlying authority for our constitutional form of government stems directly from biblical precedents.” (p. xv)

"Even if you question the accuracy of my constitutional interpretation as proof of the inappropriateness of a state-created, tax-payer supported school system, still the Scriptures bear witness to such an institution’s lack of proper authority in the life of the Christian family,” Dunbar writes (p. 102).

Dunbar also offers a hint about why she helps govern a public education system she loathes.

“This battle for our nation’s children and who will control their education and training is crucial to our success for reclaiming our nation,” Dunbar writes (p. 100), after earlier condemning what she calls a secular society that resembles Nazi Germany just before the Holocaust. Those at risk today are “the devout, Bible-believing Christians,” she writes (p. 2).

Dunbar argues that the Founders created “an emphatically Christian government” (p. 18) and believed government should be guided by a “biblical litmus test.” (p. 47) She also endorses a “belief system” that would “require that any person desiring to govern have a sincere knowledge and appreciation for the Word of God in order to rightly govern.” (p. 17)

Dunbar sees public schools as a threat to that belief system: “Our children are, after all, our best and greatest assets, and we are throwing them into the enemy’s flames even as the children of Israel threw their children to Moloch.” (p. 101)

Dunbar should have been honest with voters when she ran for the board in 2006, Miller said.

“A fire chief wouldn’t knowingly hire an arsonist in the department,” Miller said. “It’s just as hard to imagine many voters knowingly supporting for the State Board of Education an extremist who despises the public schools nearly everybody’s kids except her own attend.”

Dunbar won her seat in 2006 and sits on the state board’s key Committee on Instruction. The committee guides the state board’s policies on curriculum and textbook adoptions. Earlier this year, for example, Dunbar used her position on that committee to win approval for vague guidelines that some public schools have used to offer deeply flawed and blatantly sectarian Bible classes in the past. Even worse, she then joined three other board members in endorsing a constitutionally suspect Bible course curriculum that Odessa public schools had been forced to remove from classrooms after being sued by local parents.

The board is currently debating a revision of science curriculum standards for the state’s public schools. Dunbar is part of a bloc of creationists who want public schools to teach students that evolution is not established, mainstream science. The board will begin revising social studies curriculum standards, including standards for American history and government, next year.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Education, State Board of Education, Cynthia Dunbar, evolution, creationism, intelligent design

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