SB 1451 – Correcting Texas “revisionist history”

12 05 2010
Concerns that “extremist” curriculum decisions being made in Texas don’t one day creep into California textbooks has prompted legislation that would require additional content screening to filter out the changes.
SB 1451, by state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, comes in response to a decision by the Texas Board of Education to include as part of a social studies/history curriculum framework update some eye-catching edits including:

  • Highlighting the inaugural address of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate State of America.
  • Dropping Thomas Jefferson from a list of great political thinkers.
  • Reducing information about the impact of Latinos in U.S. history.
  • Replacing hip-hop music with country-western as an important cultural influence.
  • And, replacing “capitalism” with “free market” and the term “democratic” (as in a form of government) with “constitutional republic.”
Yee said in an interview last week that he’s worried some or all of what he called “revisionist history” would make its way into California textbooks because Texas is reviewing its curriculum framework ahead of California and the publishing industry might make it expensive not to follow along.

That is, textbook publishers will use the curriculum adopted in Texas – the nation’s second largest textbook market next to California – to write the textbooks that California might have to adopt because they will be the most current.

It seems that what’s going on in Texas was that they were trying to use politics and political philosophy to change the way in which textbooks would be written,” Yee said in an interview with Cabinet Report.
“I think that clearly one needs to get into exactly why this is so critical,” Yee said. “So what if Texas has a framework that we don’t like, how is that going to influence us?”

His bill would require the California State Board of Education, upon next review of the history/social science framework, to notify the legislature if it finds that any of the new content adopted in Texas has been included in the curriculum.

California’s history/social science framework was due to be reviewed and adopted this year but suspended until the 2013-14 school year as a result of budgetary concerns and the passage of Assembly Bill X4 2 last year.

“What this bill will do is require the [California] State Board of Education to look at the changes that the Texas Board of Education is suggesting in their framework and evaluate that against the appropriateness to the California standards,” Yee said. The state board would then be required to report to the legislature its findings.

The Texas Board of Education is now taking comments on the framework revisions and is scheduled to take a final vote in May. The elected board is currently made up of a Republican majority of 10-5.

Yee’s bill passed the Senate Education Committee and now heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

By Tom Chorneau and Mary Gardner
School Innovations & Advocacy, Inc.

Letter to Simmons Honey Ranchito Douglas Arizona

5 05 2010

Dear Mr. Simmons,

On my most recent trip to Arizona, Pierce and Bisbee to be exact, I purchased a jar of your wonderful desert wildflower honey. I would have bought more but it was the last jar I found at the Bisbee Co-op. My family loves it and in fact it is nearly done.  Unfortunately as you may be aware of the recent passage of the oppressive racial profiling law against persons of Mexican origin, including myself.  I regret to inform you that I will notbe returning to Arizona, and specifically the Wilcox area of Southern Arizona for the foreseeable future and will most defiantly boycott any products with an Arizona origin, including yours. I do regret this action given I am sure you are a wonderful human being puton this earth to do good for mankind.

In googling your company Simmons Honey Ranchito I’ve found it to be just the type of business I try to patronage when ever possible. You may want to advise your elected officials and other local businesses of the unfortunate suffering a small company like yours will experience as a result of their ungodly political short sightedness.

I am only one person and you are only one company and one loss of a $12.99 sale may not have much of an impact on either one of our finances; however multiply this by tens of thousands or millions of times and well I’m sure I don’t have to explain further.

Deuteronomy 15:11

Taxes and Transparency

15 04 2010

Question Kevin, where were you the previous 8 years.

Dear Friend:

Last time I wrote to you, Democratic leaders in Congress were on the verge of passing their government takeover of health care. Today, that job-killing health care bill is law and American small businesses and families will now be paying an additional $570 billion in new taxes over the next ten years at a time when our state and nation are facing devastating unemployment levels. Now I am sure this is not the kind of news you want to hear on “Tax Day,” but, if you are like me, this makes me wonder: “how will this affect my taxes in 2010, 2011, 2012, and beyond?”

Consider this: the water you use is taxed, the food you eat is taxed, the gas you buy is taxed, the cable you watch is taxed, and the money you earn is taxed. Need more? Well, with the recent government takeover of heath care, your health benefits will now be taxed too. Unfortunately, while Washington finds it very easy to collect our taxes, it does not inform the taxpayer on a consistent and transparent basis how much money it will be spending. Americans deserve to know how Washington is spending their hard-earned money.

Did you know that in 2009, the Federal Government collected $2.1 trillion in taxes, but managed to spend $3.5 trillion? This means the federal government borrowed and spent $1.4 trillion more than it had. That’s an additional $1.4 trillion that you, the taxpayer will have to pay back. And it is this same routine of borrowing and spending that has created our current record deficits, and left us with an unsustainable $11.8 trillion debt. These kinds of sums are unimaginable and their effects unsustainable. Just based on current figures today, each American household’s share of the national debt is now roughly $143,000 dollars – a sum that is well above our current national median family household income.

Americans deserve better from Washington, yet the President and this Congress don’t seem to think so, as they continue to tax and spend their way to the bottom of every American’s pocket. Remember when Congress passed the $1 trillion stimulus bill? Wasn’t it supposed to create jobs? Wasn’t it supposed to keep unemployment – which has been 9.7% since January – below 8%? I ask you to remember, because it seems the leaders in Washington have forgotten, and you deserve better than that.

I believe the American taxpayer deserves to know where their tax dollars are going and what they are being spent on and that this information should be easily and readily provided. As President Reagan said, “[i]nformation is the oxygen of the modern age,” and today, Americans are not getting enough oxygen. There needs to be more transparency and openness in government.

That is why I introduced legislation (H.R. 4943) that would require the IRS to publish the current and projected Federal tax revenue, spending levels, deficits, and public debt not only on their website, but in the materials they provide for us to use when filing our taxes each April. Just as a publicly-owned business provides its shareholders annual reports, I believe the U.S. government ought not to be exempt from these important transparency and reporting practices and requirements. The American taxpayer deserves better; be assured I will continue to fight for more accountability and transparency when it comes to all aspects of government, especially when it comes to spending.


Kevin McCarthy

PS-my bill was highlighted on the Fox Business channel last week; you can view that video clip here.


18 09 2008

Hello Friends,

This is a Special Edition of the Parra Notes. The following is a copy of a press release that I sent out today to correct errors and misleading statements in today’s Bakersfield Californian newspaper.

September 17, 2008


SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Nicole Parra (D-Hanford) released the following letter to the Bakersfield Californian in response to a misleading column in today’s newspaper:

“September 17, 2008

Lois Henry
Bakersfield California
1707 Eye Street
Bakersfield, CA 93301

Dear Lois,

It is with extreme disappointment that I read your article in today’s Californian. Disappointment because you seem to have completely dismissed the real impact of my tenure in the State Assembly and commitment to my constituents in the 30th Assembly District, just for one of your cheap headlines. Being an Assemblymember involves introducing and passing bills, which I have successfully done. But more importantly, being an Assemblymember requires one to introduce issues into public debate, and fight for your people and priorities. This I have done with much effectiveness, often bringing Legislative leaders from Los Angeles and the Bay Area into the District.

During my six years in office, I have brought a number of key policy makers into Kern County and the 30th Assembly District to witness first-hand the needs and concerns of my constituents. Rather than making decisions in a vacuum from their offices in Sacramento, I brought Assembly Speakers, Committee Chairs, and fellow legislators to the District so they see the impacts of their decisions on the fantastic people of the Central Valley.

Since you have blatantly failed to notify the readers of this newspaper, let me remind you of just a few of the things I have accomplished. Former Assembly Speakers Herb Wesson and Fabian Núñez, and current Speaker Karen Bass came to the 30th Assembly District to gain a greater understanding of the impact of water and agriculture on our communities.

Working with Occidental Petroleum and others, I brought a number of legislators on a tour of Kern County’s oil-producing lands and facilities. Kern County is the leading oil producing county in California and legislators were able to better grasp the economic importance of this energy activity on our towns.

I have served as past Chair of the Select Committee on Water Infrastructure and the Economy, holding an informational hearing on the status of the restoration of the San Joaquin River and its impact on surrounding communities. Last year, I brought together local potable water supplier entities in the 30th Assembly District and the State agencies of jurisdiction for an open dialogue to discuss water quality, reliability, and availability within the Southern San Joaquin Valley. The meeting included approximately 35 representatives from the District – from Alpaugh to Arvin – and numerous state agencies.

Any journalist worth their salt knows that the Valley cares about solutions, not ideologues. And my record of working across the aisle is both well known and very productive. Always working in a bi-partisan manner, as my constituents have repeatedly asked their elected officials to do, I have worked on important economic development issues. In 2005, I held an economic development conference in Bakersfield with State Treasurer Phil Angelides to address job retention, development, and tax credits. From getting Governor Schwarzenegger to sign the Executive Order creating the California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley to leading the fight to protect jobs at Lemoore Naval Air Base from federal cuts, I have been there in the trenches for our communities when they needed it most – providing economic opportunities for our families and neighbors.

On the Assembly Floor, I have effectively and judiciously used my vote to protect the interests of Kern County and my constituents. When the Kern County Board of Supervisors asks me to oppose cuts to funding for critical services, I have stood firm in my opposition, even when that meant going against well funded special interests.

In short, I have been a dedicated stalwart for the people of Kern County and the 30th Assembly District. That is why I have been elected three times in three vigorous contests. The people recognize that I consistently stand up for their issues, for their concerns, and for their priorities, even when that means I have to buck my party and pay a high price in Sacramento.

Lois, get your facts straight. You have been sitting alone at your desk for over a decade. Get out from behind your blinders, get out in the real world, and you’ll see and hear that Nicole Parra has been a champion for the wonderful people of Kern County and my district, because these great people deserve nothing less from me.”


Member of the Assembly
30th District

# # #

This Is What Happens To California Legislative Moderates

21 08 2008

Joe Mathews –
August 18, 2008 – 4:30pm

Chief of staff, Derek Chernow, packs up the belongings of assemblywoman, Nicole Parra, from her office August 18, 2008. Assembly Speaker Karen Bass is kicking Parra out of her office at the State Capitol building because she failed to vote on the state budget Sunday. She will be relocated to the legislative office across the street. (Autumn Cruz / Sacramento Bee Staff Photo)

This picture from the Sacramento Bee is of the chief of staff to Democratic Assemblywoman Nicole Parra packing up her office after Assembly Speaker Karen Bass kicked her out of the Capitol. Parra’s crime? Showing a little independence. Parra, a Central Valley moderate Democrat from one of the few competitive legislative districts in the state, refused to vote for the Democratic budget proposal for a simple and good reason: the legislature refuses to pass a badly needed water bond even after it was presented with a bipartisan compromise fashioned by U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

So Parra becomes the only legislator to not have an office in the Capitol. This is not the first time this punishment has been used. The previous speaker and the current Democratic leader in the Senate, Don Perata, have also kicked lawmakers out of their offices for the crime of showing independence. Something like this might make a good ad for Prop 11, the November ballot initiative to remove the power to draw districts from the legislature.

Updated: A few sources and readers point out that Parra is defending her district’s interests, particularly the agricultural ones. Which is true. But that’s no crime, and shouldn’t get you tossed out of the Capitol. The point is that there is simply no room for independence.

Parra Kicked Out Of Her Office Juvenile Partisan Antics Irritates Voters and Demeans Legislature

21 08 2008

Rigid partisan antics
MediaNews editorial
Article Launched: 08/20/2008 11:41:21 AM PDT

IF CALIFORNIANS believe that the primary responsibility of their elected legislators is to represent the interests of the voters who elected them, they would be mistaken. At least that apparently is the view of Assembly Speaker Karen Bass.

Last Sunday, after Assemblywoman Nicole Parra, D-Hanford, failed to vote the Democratic Party line in support of a doomed state budget proposal, the speaker booted Parra out of her Capitol office and into one across the street.

Parra abstained from the budget vote because she wants lawmakers first to approve a comprehensive water package that would benefit her Central Valley farm district. The $9.3 billion bond measure was proposed by Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

But the speaker could not countenance anything but rigid conformance to partisanship. That is particularly galling, when everyone knew well in advance that the budget vote was a meaningless exercise.

Republicans and Democrats remain deadlocked with the former opposed to tax increases and the latter opposed to spending controls.

Parra is not opposed to her party’s view on the budget. However, she put her constituents’ interest first in pushing for a vote on the water measure.

Kicking a wayward legislator out of his or her office is nothing new. Both parties have done it, but relocating a lawmaker to a different building takes such juvenile antics to an even lower level.

This is the kind of nonsense that understandably irritates voters and demeans the Legislature.

Perhaps if California had more competitive legislative districts, party leaders would allow lawmakers to have more latitude in representing the interests of those who elected them.

Unfortunately, that is not the case today as the speaker clearly demonstrated in penalizing a legislator for her independence.

Nicole Para Punished for Failing to Vote on Budget

20 08 2008