Of the 28 testimonies heard at the SBOE hearing on January 31, 10 were given by members of Austin Science Advocates. Because this was the first time that many of us provided public testimony, we wanted to share our experience in the hopes that it encourages more people to get out and testify in the future. While we did not achieve the outcome that we supported (i.e., removal of four problematic standards – see our previous post), as a whole we felt that the process was simple, interesting, and rewarding. Here are some personal reflections from those of us that attended.
I thought testifying was easier and more interesting that I expected, and I am interested in learning more about the professionals who were sent by creationist and intelligent design groups to testify against the recommendations of the expert panel. Next time I want to give more specific testimony that more directly addresses their points. —Julia
Once I found out how to testify, it was much easier than I had expected and I thought it was very rewarding to participate in the process. I was surprised by how much more attention testifiers in opposition of the expert panel’s recommendations were given compared to those in support of them, and that the SBOE seemed to ignore the advice from panel they chose. —Becca
I was pretty nervous to testify, but it was really straightforward, especially since we were required to submit copies of our written testimony to the Board. One thing I did not realize was that we could bring additional documents to share with the board – e.g. evidence backing up arguments we were making. —Emma
I submitted a written testimony. I’m not sure how much weight it will have compared with an in-person testimony, but overall I was pleased with how simple the process was. —Katie
Along with other graduate students that testified, I found that testifying was much simpler than I had anticipated, mostly because you arrive with a scripted version of what you will say. One of the most useful aspects of showing up to testify was actually being able to see members of the board in person, and watch how the state of Texas implements and revises the curricula for students of all grade levels. –Anne
I registered early but initially missed the time I was scheduled to testify because I was holding a discussion section for the class I TA. I arrived as early as possible and was pleasantly surprised that I was able to jump in the queue to provide my testimony before heading back to campus for my next class. While I was relieved that it was not as difficult as I anticipated to testify, it was also very frustrating to see that there was not a lot of attention paid to the testimony of the graduate students who attended. I would definitely submit testimony again for an issue I care about. –Caitlin
Although I was not able provide in-person testimony, I was glad I was able to submit a written statement into public record. I found one of the most challenging parts of testifying was organizing my thoughts into a two-minute statement that clearly articulated my position and reasoning to the SBOE members. Written advocacy, whether its purpose is to serve as a script or to be submitted on its own, can be a powerful tool. This experience made me realize how important it is to develop skills for writing clear and concise arguments. —Lauren
We will post more information in March about how you can testify in April.