Texas Board of Education: Dunbar’s Seat

Marsha Farney (left), Brian Russell (center), Rebecca Osborne (right)

This is about the race for a soon-to-be vacant seat on the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE). The Board is currently dominated by creationists. If you want some background information, check out Texas State Board of Education Contests. Our most recent report on the overall situation was here: Texas SBOE Election Update (09 Jan ‘10).

Today we’ll talk about the seat on the Board currently held by Cynthia Dunbar. We’ve written about her before. See: Cynthia Dunbar And Her Friends, and also: Meet Cynthia Dunbar.

What does your Curmudgeon think of Dunbar? Regarding the creationist-theocratic majority on the SBOE, it’s very difficult to say that one is more ignorant than the others, or more deranged, or more destructive. Even our Slime-O-Meter fails us. On that instrument’s scale, starting at Ankle Deep and gradually increasing through the grades of Knee Deep, Hip Deep, Chest Deep, Neck Deep, all the way to the maximum reading of Deluge, we find that Dunbar is off the scale. Anyway, she’ll be gone soon.

We present some excerpts from GOP education board candidates all say they’re conservative , which appears in the Austin American-Statesman. The bold font was added by us:

Cynthia Dunbar’s decision to leave the State Board of Education at the end of her first term has sparked a spirited three-way Republican primary to succeed her.

Dunbar has been a powerhouse of the board’s conservative bloc, and all three District 10 candidates — educators Rebecca Osborne and Marsha Farney and patent lawyer Brian Russell — insist that they, too, are good conservatives.

The word “conservative” can mean many things. Let’s read on:

The 15-member State Board of Education, which adopts curriculum standards and textbooks for Texas public schools, is sharply divided between the conservative side and a more moderate opposition group. Eight seats are up for election this year.

It may seem that any change in the Board would be an improvement, but that’s not necessarily true in the contest for Dunbar’s seat. We continue:

Central Texas is assured a voice on the board because Dunbar’s potential successors — including Judy Jennings, the sole Democrat on the District 10 ballot — all hail from the Austin area.

We’re far less concerned with the candidates’ location than with their ideology. Here’s more:

Osborne, a teacher at McNeil High School in Round Rock, has been running for the past year, long before Dunbar’s announcement in December.


“There is a disconnect between the State Board of Education and the classroom,” Osborne said. Osborne said the board needs to ensure there is flexibility in graduation requirements and course offerings so schools can help students to achieve at their highest level of ability. That flexibility can be offered without compromising a rigorous education, she added.

Sounds like pure fluff. Moving along:

Russell, Dunbar’s designated heir apparent, said the divisiveness is unavoidable because of a philosophical difference on the board about how and what children should be taught.

“The whole reason why there is so much passion, so much zealous advocacy on the board is precisely because it is about the children,” Russell said.

If Russell is “Dunbar’s designated heir apparent,” that’s all we need to know about him. Another excerpt:

Farney calls herself the “common-sense conservative” because she can draw from her work as an educator and a parent of an elementary student in the Georgetown school district. “I value public schools very much, and I respect the teachers,” Farney said.

What does that mean? Here’s a bit more about her:

A former classroom teacher and school counselor, Farney received her doctorate in education in 2007 and has been a stay-at-home mother most recently. Farney said her curriculum experience would be of great value on the board and might help the board avoid problems. “I’m not an armchair coach looking into the public schools saying what they should be doing,” Farney said. “I’m the parent candidate.”

She isn’t telling us anything.

That’s the GOP lineup. There’s also Judy Jennings, the sole Democrat on the ballot for Dunbar’s seat. Here’s her campaign website. She doesn’t address the creationism and theocratic issues directly, so we don’t know enough about her.

For the moment, we don’t have a favorite in this race. It’s certainly good that Dunbar is leaving, but her replacement may be no improvement. If we learn more, we’ll let you know.

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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6 responses to “Texas Board of Education: Dunbar’s Seat

  1. Judy Jennings is NOT a creationist or theocrat. She’s has a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the University of Texas. Her election would improve the Texas SBOE tremendously. Please support her candidacy. http://www.votejudyjennings.com

  2. Jon says: “Judy Jennings is NOT a creationist or theocrat.”

    It would be helpful if her campaign website addressed the issues.

  3. It would be helpful if her campaign website addressed the issues.

    Helpful-informative, or helpful electorially? The two are not always the same.

  4. From Brian Russell’s website:

    “When the science curriculum was under consideration by the SBOE last year, I authored the Republican Party of Texas (RPT) resolution supporting the adoption of new, rigorous science standards by the SBOE that permit students to think for themselves and ask questions about scientific theories like evolution and man-made global warming. When adoption of the new science standards was in doubt, I helped coordinate grassroots calls supporting their adoption. These efforts proved successful, and the excellent new science standards were adopted by the SBOE by a vote of 13-2.”

    As if that weren’t enough, he’s endorsed by McLeroy, Dunbar and Mercer, so he’s clearly one of the bad guys.

  5. Thanks for the quote RWA. Maybe all Texas students should ask questions about Newton’s theory of gravity. If they jumped off a cliff, they would definitely be thinking for themselves.

  6. Hmmm…I wonder how long she’s been a public school candidate…