Q&A: New State Board of Education chair Donna Bahorich on her homeschool background, vouchers and Jim Crow | Dallas Morning News

July 25, 2015

Newly appointed chair Donna Bahorich understands why some doubt that a home-schooling mom has the right background and empathy to set the curriculum and textbook standards for 5.2 million Texas public school students. Still, the Houston Republican and longtime associate of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick asks that you not hold her background and personal choices against her. She says she’s a consensus-builder who supports public schools and parental choice…

…You have to look back at the circumstances at the time. My oldest son, Mark, was starting his kindergarten year and we moved in November to another state, so it didn’t seem like the right choice for me to put him in a school, move to another state, put him in the middle of the semester in another school. So I thought, well, I would just do kindergarten and felt pretty comfortable that I could handle it. I soon discovered that I really enjoyed being the teacher, even with as much work as it was. I loved opening those doors and turning on those lights in his head. It was a tremendous amount of work, but it is something that I think back on and it was fun. And I just kept doing it. It just rolled from one year to the next and I enjoyed it.

I’m in favor of education, not any particular form of education. I am in favor of whatever works for families, and having options is a good thing. My experience with having to look at lesson plans, do curriculum gives me a pretty good feel for the kinds of things teachers do day-to-day. Teaching takes a lot of diligence and a whole lot of work, and I definitely got a sense of that, having worked with three different children on three different levels for 13 years. I didn’t have 25 kids to teach, but I have a sense of the challenges. Eighty-eight percent of the students in the country are publicly educated. You need to care, because they will determine the future of Texas and the country.

I got to do exciting, hands-on things with my kids — field trips, plays, re-enacting history. It is the excitement of teaching that I would like to see more of in our classrooms. We’ve been covered up with bureaucracy and mandates, though. I’d like to see a lot more flexibility in the classroom for teachers to have the opportunity to bring that excitement on the creative side.

Senate Bill 313 [The bill directed the State Board of Education to examine the statewide curriculum standards] was vetoed. It had directions to the state board to reduce the scope of the content of the standards to allow more time in classrooms. I think the entire board is behind a culling of the standards. You keep hearing “miles-wide, inches-deep.” We want to reduce the mileage a bit. I would like to see us go ahead and fulfill this legislative intent…

…I would ask people to have an open mind about me. I am a very hardworking person. I believe to compete globally and keep our economic edge, our students must be prepared. I’m 110 percent committed to that goal. I don’t know any better mission than that.


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