Friday, July 10, 2009

More on Dunbar

Some non-Texans with thoughts on Dunbar's possible ascendancy to the chair of the State Board of Education. Fred Clark, with an analogy:

Every job comes with a set of minimum standards. An entry-level volunteer firefighter, for example, must meet a basic standard of physical fitness as well as be able to demonstrate a basic capacity for learning the craft of firefighting and a basic commitment to keeping the community safe.

Every once in a while, though, someone slips through the screening process and reminds us that every job also comes with a set of sub-minimal requirements. A volunteer firefighter, for example, shouldn't also be an arsonist on the side.

We tend to think of such subminimal requirements as things that go without saying, and thus we rarely state them explicitly. The recruiting materials for volunteer fire companies will mention the minimal requirements of time and physical capability, but they won't usually spell out the subminimal requirements. They won't say, in large block letters at the top of the page: "Firebugs need not apply."

Perhaps they should. Because again every once in a while some person comes along who meets the minimum requirements but turns out not to meet the subminimal ones and we are forced to rethink what we have previously allowed to go without saying. We start to think that maybe we should have stated explicitly that candidates shouldn't expect to spend all day in their cubicles surfing cyberporn, or that they will be expected to refrain from embezzling, or not to fabricate articles or plagiarize.

Or not to set fire to the fire station itself.

That's apt. Dunbar is to Texas public education as an arsonist is to a burning building.

And Susie Madrak at Crooks and Liars, bringing the national heat:

Dunbar is a member of what one blogger called "the Texas Taliban," a coalition of state school board fundamentalists. Since this is the year the board purchases new textbooks, their goal is to make sure the textbooks selected are as wingnutty and deliciously wacky as their own personal beliefs.

Cynthia Dunbar: so crazy that even non-Texas bloggers are forced to pay attention.

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