Today the immediate past Texas State Board of Education Chair Donna Bahorich told friends and supporters of her decision not to seek re-election to this state board.
I’m writing about her decision because it presents an opportunity to speak to an issue that is dividing our country and our state – public dialogue.
As some of you may recall, Donna Bahorich was widely criticized as a far-right thinker and homeschooler when she was appointed chair of the SBOE by Governor Abbott. She was specifically criticized by the SBOE vice chair. She could have responded to those attacks by criticizing the numerous individuals and entities who attacked her.
Instead, she chose leadership.
She chose to embrace the critics, inviting them to collaborate with her on setting public policy. She traveled the state – staying in low cost accommodations and with families – holding community conversations and getting feedback from teacher and parent groups on policy matters.
She appointed a Democrat to an important commission that represented the SBOE on the assessments and accountability – and then was criticized from the right.
She turned to Crosswind to help better understand the media.
Recall the potentially divisive Mexican American History textbook issue and approving a Mexican American Studies course? She navigated the SBOE through that in a manner that received applause from all parties and multiple unanimous votes.
In a time when rhetoric is divisive and insulting, we need more servants like Donna. It’s a sad day with her saying goodbye, and it’s a reminder that we can still be civil in public life.
It’s not just the right thing to do; Donna is proof that when you extend civility, you receive it. And then you get things done.