Texas SBOE: Marsha Farney or Judy Jennings?

Marsha Farney (left), Judy Jennings (right)

A few months ago, Marsha Farney defeated creationist Brian Russell in the Texas GOP primary runoff election to see who would be the Republican candidate in November for the District 10 seat on the Texas State Board of Education (the SBOE). As you recall, that seat is currently held by Cynthia Dunbar — one of the most strident members of the creationist-theocratic faction that has been dominating the SBOE.

Dunbar had endorsed Russell, and he had also been endorsed by former board chairman Don McLeroy, the creationist dentist. But Farney crushed Russell in the primary runoff. To celebrate Russell’s defeat we wrote Marsha Farney’s Victory: What Does It Mean? We said:

It seems undeniable that the Republicans, having been awakened to what had been happening on the SBOE, rose up yesterday and rejected the extreme creationist candidate. GOP voters had earlier defeated McLeroy in the first round of primaries.

But that leaves us with a question: We know Farney is better than Russell, but that’s history. In the general election, Farney is opposed by Democrat Judy Jennings. Here’s Jennings’ campaign website. Where does Marsha Farney stand on the creationist and theocratic issues compared to her Democrat opponent?

In the Northwest Austin edition of Community Impact Newspaper we read State Board of Education District 10. Here are some excerpts, with bold as in the original:

Judy Jennings, Democrat

[Question:] What is your position on the teaching of evolution?

[Answer:] Evolution is a scientific concept and should be taught in science classes. Any other philosophy should be taught in philosophy or the appropriate class, not science class.

That’s clear enough. We couldn’t ask for better. Let’s read on:

Marsha Farney, Republican

[Question:] What is your position on the teaching of evolution?

[Answer:] I do support it being taught as a prevalent theory, but there are still gaps, so as we learn more we should include that in the curriculum. For me, the bottom line is students must always be encouraged to question and investigate and to just be willing to find out for themselves.

Oops! Farney is squishy on science. Either she’s a closet creationist, or she’s shamelessly pandering to the creationist vote. It doesn’t matter which it is; we’re not impressed.

The article has additional information on the candidates, and you may want to make a decision based on more than creationism; but remember — the ladies are running for an office that oversees education for the entire state of Texas. If one candidate is on the creationist side, that’s pretty much the key issue.

Farney was infinitely better then Russell, but Texas can do better. The election date is 02 November.

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

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5 responses to “Texas SBOE: Marsha Farney or Judy Jennings?

  1. Curmudgeon: “Oops! Farney is squishy on science. Either she’s a closet creationist, or she’s shamelessly pandering to the creationist vote. It doesn’t matter which it is; we’re not impressed.”

    I say a mix of pandering and common misconceptions. Years ago even I would have said something like she said, and that’s with a Chemistry degree and after decades of accepting evolution.

    Texas Republicans owe it to themselves to ask her specific questions (What are those “gaps”? Does creationism have even bigger ones?) and inform her that science class is not where that should be taught. If she agrees with that, and that the refutations of the mutually contradictory creationist “theories” must be included, then it could be a win-win. Meaning that some of the “creationist vote” will agree to that, even though the anti-evolution activists will definitely not. But they can’t object too loudly because they will be seen as the real censors. Which they are.

  2. Frank J says:

    I say a mix of pandering and common misconceptions.

    Misconceptions about that question, on that subject, in this election, in Texas, after all this time? Then she’s an idiot.

  3. Curmudgeon: “Misconceptions about that question, on that subject, in this election, in Texas, after all this time? Then she’s an idiot.”

    Good point. Even though I had a science degree and 20 years as a scientist behind me at the time, I had no idea the lengths that anti-evolution activists go to mislead people (especially students). Whereas she has had ample opportunity to see the scam up close.

    When I read that she wants evolution taught as the “prevalent theory” my first thought was that she accepting it as the best explanation among all with “gaps.” But then the DI wants it taught as the only theory – as in the only one that gets misrepresented.

    Texas Republicans still owe it to themselves to find out where on the “idiot” to “pandering” scale she stands. If mostly the latter she would be more science-friendly after getting the job.

  4. My 2c on Jennings’ statement:

    Agreed that we “can’t ask for better.” There’s more to say, for sure, but that would not impress the “sound bite” crowd, which is what politicians have to do.

    If a Republican candidate answered like Jennings, and the Democrat opponent answered like Farney – and that’s more common than most people think – I think that most creationist voters would still choose the Republican.

    Food for thought for Republicans who think that they need to pander.

  5. Marsha Farney spoke to a Tea Party rally in Georgetown over the July 4th weekend saying, “I’d rather be here than with those America-bashing Democrats.” Sound like someone who will steer the board away from the right-wing ideologues who have dominated education policy in Texas this past decade?