Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?—I See Anti-Marxists Looking at Me!

Part I

Earlier this year, the Texas State Board of Education removed children’s author Bill Martin Jr. from a proposal to include him in the third-grade curriculum section.  Martin would have been put on a list of authors who had made cultural contributions—along with Laura Ingalls Wilder and Carmen Lomas Garza—until board member Pat Hardy made the motion to toss out Bill Martin’s name. You see, Hardy had learned that “Bill Martin” had written an adult book that contains “very strong critiques of capitalism and the American system” from another board member named Teri Leo.

It was while Leo was researching Bill Martin on the Web site that she discovered that he had written a book called Ethical Marxism. Leo alerted Hardy to her discovery in an email. Hardy explained: “She said that that was what he wrote, and I said: ‘ … It’s a good enough reason for me to get rid of someone.’ ”

Well, someone named “Bill Martin” may have written pro Marxist books for adults—but it wasn’t Bill Martin Jr. No, Bill Martin Jr. is the author of perennial picture book favorites Brown, Brown Bear, What Do You See?; Rock It, Sock It, Number Line; and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom—which, I might add, most people would not consider to be anti-capitalist literature.

Part II

Why bring this nearly year-old story up now? I’m doing it because of a recent decision made by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit in the case of Evans-Marshall v. Board of Education of the Tipp City Exempted Village School District. That case involved Shelley Evans-Marshall, “an Ohio teacher whose contract was not renewed in 2002 after community controversy over reading selections she assigned to her high school English classes.” The appeals court ruled that teachers do not have “First Amendment free-speech protection for curricular decisions they make in the classroom.” In its opinion, the Court also said: “Only the school board has ultimate responsibility for what goes on in the classroom, legitimately giving it a say over what teachers may (or may not) teach in the classroom.”

Part III

When I read about the decision in the Evans-Marshall case a couple of weeks ago, it got me to thinking about the Texas Board of Education/Bill Martin Jr. story, the new Texas social studies curriculum, and the case of Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District. State Boards of Education can wield a lot of power. In my state of Massachusetts, members of the State Board of Education are appointed by the governor. In Texas, they are elected. As far as I know, one doesn’t have to have any special background in education/educational philosophy or expertise/knowledge of curricular subjects to serve on the State Boards of Education in Massachusetts or Texas. I don’t know about other states.

Part IV

Do you have any thoughts on the subject of who should be the ultimate “decider(s)” of what is and what isn’t taught to children in your state? Do you think that the individuals who serve on these boards should have some kind of special knowledge or expertise?


Name confusion gets kid’s author banned from Texas curriculum (Dallas Morning News)

Court: No Teacher Speech Rights on Curriculum (School Law blog at Education Week)

Texas Conservatives Win Curriculum Change (New York Times)

Pepper Hamilton LLP

– Elaine Magliaro, Guest Blogger

48 thoughts on “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?—I See Anti-Marxists Looking at Me!”

  1. Elaine I mentioned this vote when we were discussing the importance of voting for the democrats with Tony C.

  2. Texas State Board of Education approves new curriculum standards
    May 22, 2010By TERRENCE STUTZ / The Dallas Morning News

    AUSTIN — In a landmark vote that will shape the future education of millions of Texas schoolchildren, the State Board of Education on Friday approved new curriculum standards for U.S. history and other social studies courses that reflect a more conservative tone than in the past.

    Split along party lines, the board voted 9-5 to adopt the new standards, which will dictate what is taught in all Texas schools and provide the basis for future textbooks and student achievement tests over the next decade.

    Texas standards often wind up being taught in other states because national publishers typically tailor their materials to Texas, one of the biggest textbook purchasers in the country.

    Board Democrats accused the Republicans of a “cut-and-paste” job on the standards that included a flurry of late amendments undoing much of the work of teachers and academics who were appointed to review teams to draft the curriculum requirements last year.

    “Here we are trying to approve standards for our children that will be used for years and we are being asked to approve all these last-minute cut-and-paste proposals,” said Mary Helen Berlanga, D-Corpus Christi.

    “I don’t think any teacher would accept work like this,” she said. “They would have thrown this paper in the trash. We’ve done an injustice to the children of this state.”

  3. Woosty,

    Hope your “‘puter probs” are solved soon. I was without my computer recently for more than a week–and I had to borrow my husband’s computer when he wasn’t using it. It was extremely frustrating.

  4. I love the Brown Bear book!
    ….unfortunately ‘puter probs are keeping me away….I miss you blogsters!

  5. J. Brian Harris,

    It is unfortunate, but some crimes the mere accusation of are a damning scar, but your options are risk some collateral damage to people’s reputations – which can be repaired – versus letting child molesters go free. It’s a small societal cost to the transaction if it limits the life long damage molested children can suffer. And that was a fantastic play on words, by the way. Bravo.

  6. Then there was the story, which I have not been able to verify and really doubt, of the pedagogue who was employed in a public school until being fired because everyone knows that all pedagogues are child-abusing perverts.

    Peda = Pedi = Pedo?

    Sticks and stones may break our bones,
    But only words can totally destroy us?

  7. Elaine M.:

    BTW, I don’t think he saw any Marxists climbing the coconut tree!

    🙂 Thanks for the Brown Bear link. (I posted Chicka Chicka Boom Boom because I’ve found myself humming it on way too many occasions… One of my sweet nieces loves to dance to it.)

    A great article, by the way, if I’m not repeating myself…

  8. anon nurse,

    Thanks for posting the “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” video.

    Here’s a video of Bill Martin Jr. singing his book “Brown, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” BTW, I don’t think he saw any Marxists climbing the coconut tree!

  9. Tootie:


    Did you know, at least I believe this to true having heard it from a reliable source, teachers now have to have a degree in the area they teach?

    I also know some very smart teachers who teach because they love the children.

    You do have some good points but the vile invective just turns people off. Schools should be run by the local area, the state standard learning tests should be done away with, teachers cannot teach freely.

    Why is busing a bad idea?

    Doesn’t public education help society as a whole? I know I benefited and now I pay taxes and buy cars and appliances. Although it might not be that good, I read some statistics that only about 25% of the population has a college degree and only about 10% have a masters degree.

  10. Thanks, Buddha. That was cool.

    Here’s another geography video for you–Sarah Palin’s Fifty Nifty United States:

  11. This is OT except as an educational tool . . . and really cool.


  12. Note to All:

    I’m sorry that I forgot to include something in this “Brown Bear” post. Many educators and scholars served on development/revision committees when the most recent Massachusetts curriculum frameworks were written.

  13. Tootie,
    Plain and simple…you are way off base. Have you seen the rewriting of American History going on at the Texas Board of Education? They are cleansing the history books of legitimate facts and events and historical figures. Yes, I do think that if you only get your news from Fox News, it will skew your view of the country and the world. Fox News does not live in the real world. They are an arm of the Teapublican Party. Bought and paid for. By the way, being smart or being a businessman or woman does not qualify you to be a teacher in a real school. You should turn off Fox and actually read some facts. Have a great week.

  14. rafflaw:

    Government education creates Fox News watchers?

    This is what you imply. And are you implying that the Texas school create Fox News watchers in Vermont? Because I’m sure that not all of Fox News viewers are Texans.

    I guess one could have to arrive at your non sequitur even after they understood that the left-wing Marxist psychos who run the education establishment had those kids in school for about 13 years of schooling? But such an arrival would be spectacular.

    Perhaps then we would have to conclude that they became Fox watchers despite or in spite of the Marxist brainwashing that is rampant throughout the whole US government education-by-gun-point system?

    NEW FLASH: The left runs the government education establishment top to bottom. Even in Texas.

    You didn’t know this? I’m embarrassed for you.

    The left educates our teachers and runs its public schools. The left runs the accreditation organizations that give the accredited stamp-of-approval on the curricula education students must learn at teachers colleges in order to acquire their teaching degrees. EVEN IN TEXAS. All of this is leftist and Marxist (read: stupid) in tenor. These are the people you are really complaining about. You are complaining about the left and I don’t think you know it. LOL

    Oh, and many of the people who populate school boards ARE former educators or principals as well.

    And what would you prefer?

    Schools that lead TV watchers to become ONLY a nation of ABC,NBC,CBS, and CNN watchers? And you didn’t care about what was going on as long as everyone liked the TV news channels you watched? And when you discovered that some people reject YOUR view of the world, was it only then that it came to your attention that school boards run the show at the local level?

    And even though you have now learned about this power, what is to be said of you that you want a nation where only ONE political opinion is allowed free rein on TV? Because without Fox News there is NO other political opinion in the media.

    It appears from your comments that you do not oppose TV watchers per se, but you oppose the fact that there are people who don’t watch the TV YOU approve of.

    School boards DO have as much power power over what school children learn as you suspect. Did you just wake up this? Opponents of these commies creeps and thieves in the education establishment have been fighting that problem real hard for nearly fifty years.


    Perhaps you watch too much mainstream media and COULDN’T learn about it more quickly?

    You seem to dislike the school board when it doesn’t agree with YOU. Well, join the crowd: you are nothing special now. Right wingers have been riding in the back of the school-board school bus since the Dewey progressives started this Marxist commie criminality about a century ago (dressed up as Progressivism).

    Our public schools should be run neighborhood by neighborhood by the families of those neighborhoods. Parents ought to have a big say. The centralized districts should be abolished. Busing should be abolished. Certainly there is NO federal authority allowed by the general government and the states should have less and less power.

    You may think the “professional” or “certified” teacher knows more about educating a child than a typical school board member or parent but you would be wrong and uniformed. The evidence in support of your view is to the contrary.

    Harvard and Columbia educated education researcher and experience researcher and scholar, Dr. Sam Peavey has summed it up this way:

    “After fifty years of research, we have found no significant correlation between the requirements for teacher certification and the quality of student achievement.”

    That teacher certification is required for good academic achievement is a leftist commie union thug myth put to rest by people like Stigler and Stevenon in their book the The Learning Gap (a summary of their ten year long longitudinal study).

    Okay, they didn’t call it a leftist commie union thug thing, I did.

    In fact, a mom with a high school diploma can home school her kid right into Harvard, Columbia, or Yale.

    That is how insignificant a school teacher can be. And that is how insignificant our public schools really are. That is how insignificant the commie scum teacher certificate scam is. Or rather, or profoundly evil it is.

    The government schools are now just soviet style brainwashing facilities/prisons that baby-sit children parents have become too lazy to care for themselves. Like I say, they are not too stupid to educate their own children if they have a high school level of education (which is easily acquired without a formal education). But they have to love their kids enough to do it.

    That’s the rub.

    Teacher certification is mostly a jobs program for people probably not capable of acquiring biology, math, history, or chemistry degrees but wish to teach these subjects to other peoples children. It appears to be some sort of perverse fantasy.

    At last check, education students are about the dumbest students to graduate from college. If I recall, art students are smarter and do better on graduate exams than education students. Better get rid of those exams, I suppose.

    Teacher certification is mainly a means to bar really smart people from our public schools, especially at the primary and secondary level. This would pose a grave threat to the wallets of stupid people who teach our children. That is why Stephen Hawking could not teach in a public elementary school unless he went back to college and got a stupid teachers certificate.

    Thank a stupid commie lefty union thug for it.

    So your sarcasm about our not needing school teachers because the school board runs things is really not a joke. We actually and factually don’t need them. They are just high-paid baby sitters.

    Mind you, I don’t believe the problem is only our stupid teachers. Keep them there (and off the streets where they would likely be more dangerous). The curriculum is the key. Give them the right curriculum and the kids will learn. But you seem opposed to this idea, at least for Texans. Yes, a teacher is merely a agent of learning. Give them the right materials and children learn best.

    Now, I’m not opposed to formal education. I’m just opposed to government education at gunpoint. Only a stupid and despotic people force their children to be subjugated to that kind of authority when, after last century, we learned that that kind of authority is not to ever be trusted. And only an evil, dangerous, and subversive elite demand government-education-by-gunpoint for other peoples children.

    When the states had less power over schooling, education was BETTER. Not perfect, but better. Schools should be locally run and funded by cities and communities. What about the poor or poor communities? Well, Democrats are so virtuous, rich, superior, and intelligent, men like Soros, Gates, Kerry, the rich hags in Hollywood, Al Gore, and all those rich money-grubber in Big Law have enough money and compassion to help them out.

    OR, the poor can educate their own children. They can stay married and one parent work and the other educate. That is how we did it. We went without health-care. We went down to the poverty level. But we were willing to make the sacrifice because WE CARED about the offspring we brought into the world and didn’t expect others (who really don’t care but say they do) to be responsible for our actions.

  15. Correction Hedrick Smith’s ‘The Russians’.

    John le Carre’. Lengthy, labyrinth, and utterly delicious!

  16. Buckeye,

    I had the very good fortune to be taking a modern literature class at the time the Berlin Wall came down that was taught by a former Air Force officer who had been stationed in Germany through most of the 60’s manning a Nike missile installation.

    The subject of the class?

    The Works of John le Carré.

    Talk about good timing! It ended up being both a lit class and a poli sci class. Bonus!

  17. BIL

    The USSR would have collapsed by now regardless of Reagan

    Another CIA analysis success story.

    I loved the Russians’ phrase “They pretend to pay us and we pretend to work”. Says it all.

    My spouse and I had hoped we could go to Russia, once things settled down after “the fall” and get programming jobs but the kidnappings of foreigners and the random violence precluded that.

    I really enjoyed Hendrick’s ‘The Russians’. I understand he has another one ‘The New Russians’, but haven’t read it yet. If it’s as good as the first, it would be worth reading.

  18. Buckeye,

    The economics of the USSR’s collapse may have been influenced by Reagan’s spending spree, but it wasn’t the prime cause. They had a malaise on their economy that started in the 50’s and 60’s as their strict domestic command economy fostered a huge black market while Communist ideology kept productivity low because it removed all incentives from the system. The USSR would have collapsed by now regardless of Reagan, but he did hasten the last nail being driven in the casket.

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