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Education board head says he erred in rushing changes

AUSTIN -- The head of the State Board of Education said Wednesday that he made a mistake when he initially tried to rush through a series of changes to English and reading standards earlier this year.

But SBOE chairman Don McElroy, a Republican from College Station, said the process was ultimately fair and produced a solid new curriculum that will remain in place for the next decade as the benchmark for textbooks and classroom teaching.

The new curriculum was adopted at an often tense meeting in late May. Many members complained that they were handed a substantially revised document at the last minute and that input from teachers had been ignored. Members were essentially divided over how to incorporate the teaching of grammar into the curriculum.

McElroy, testifying before the House Public Education Committee, acknowledged that he initially tried to rush the elected state board members to adopt the modified standards.

When members complained about the fast pace, McElroy said at the time that the critics were being “dilatory in dragging this out.’’

McElroy told lawmakers Wednesday he never should have said that.

"Things got kind of messy. Very messy," McElroy said. "I was the one who made a mistake saying they were being dilatory."

Eventually, though, McElroy said members had an opportunity to consider and change the final curriculum that was adopted on a 9-6 vote.

"I tried to rush it at first but then we slowed down," McElroy said. "I'm very pleased with the procedure."

Other board members and experts testifying before the committee, however, urged the panel to consider changing the way the board adopts curriculum. They complained that expert teachers who worked for hours to help the board develop standards ultimately were ignored.

"The process is a flawed process," said Bob Craig, a Republican board member from Lubbock. "At the end of the day I think we failed to respect our teachers."

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