FIRST, a bit of background, which most of you can skip because you’ve seen it before:
Don McLeroy is the creationist dentist whom Texas Governor Rick Perry had appointed as chairman of the BOE, but the Texas senate recently voted to reject that nomination. The disgrace of rejection was largely because McLeroy — a young-earth creationist — had presided over the Texas Science Chainsaw Massacre.
There is an excellent editorial in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, titled: Texas governor in a dilemma over education board pick. Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us:
McLeroy’s supporters blame [his failure to be confirmed] on the fact that he’s a Christian. Records show that this Senate, and the House Public Education Committee in a July 16 hearing, were concerned not that he’s Christian but that McLeroy politicized Texas children’s education and led the board and the Texas education system into the spotlight. And what Texans and Americans saw in that light was a fairly grotesque parade of a few people — a majority faction of the board led by McLeroy — who listened to ideology instead of experts and were intent on imposing an antiquated education system on Texas children.
We assume that most of McLeroy’s supporters in the state Senate understand the actual reason for his rejection, and they’re merely pandering to what they assume is an imbecilic electorate. But some may actually believe that McLeroy’s religion was the problem. Were they correct, then McLeroy’s behavior in office would signal to the world that his religion is a reliable indicator of incompetence. We’ll be charitable here, and give McLeroy’s supporters the benefit of assuming that they’re liars. Let’s read on:
From that same elected board, Perry now must decide on a new chairman who, like McLeroy, will serve without scrutiny until the next legislative session, in 2011. Perry’s decision is his Catch-22.
Decisions, decisions. On with the editorial:
He probably won’t consider a Democrat. That leaves nine Republican possibilities. Seven are the radical members responsible for politicizing children’s education. They voted in lock step on a range of issues that individually and collectively have been widely seen by educators and lawyers as anything from illegal to unconstitutional to damaging children. Nominating from that pool might yield a different management style than McLeroy offered, but the ideology, intent and backward direction would remain the same.
Where the editorial says “radical,” you may substitute “creationist.” Selecting one of those shouldn’t bother the governor. After all, he selected McLeroy. Here’s more:
The two remaining Republicans are conservative, but not extremists. Both District 11’s Pat Hardy of Fort Worth and District 15’s Bob Craig of Lubbock are well-qualified and would lead Texas public education in the right direction. …
Although Hardy has been mentioned as a nominee by senators, she’s recommending Craig.
Craig, an attorney, is a logical choice. He’s served on the board since 2002 and before that served on the Lubbock school board for 14 years. Craig is a “good and decent man,” but in contrast to McLeroy, his voting record and conciliatory demeanor show him to be a rational, uniting public education supporter. He listens to educators and experts. He respects the opinions of others. He votes in the interest of all children.
So the governor has two sane Republicans he can choose. What’ll he do?
The Catch-22 is that by appointing a nonextremist, Perry risks losing support from his biggest donors, the religious right.
If Perry appoints from the pool of radical rights, the voting public will be alerted that he’s sacrificing our children’s education and Texas’ future for his own political interests. So he’ll lose votes.
Money and ideology vs. public’s interest and, ultimately, its confidence. What a dilemma! Stay tuned.
Nicely put! That really does summarize the choices facing Perry. The decision he makes will be a clear indication of his integrity — or his sanity. If he takes the creationist route, then he’s certainly lacking at least one of those essential characteristics — and it doesn’t matter which. We’ll be watching.
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