Whole Texas State Board of Education On Ballot

We haven’t paid much attention to the theocratic-creationist scene in Texas lately. The emergence of that state’s Governor, Rick Perry, as a presidential candidate has stolen the spotlight. See Why Rick Perry Is Unfit To Be President.

Perry’s goofiness has so eclipsed the other creationist news from his state that the last time we wrote about the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) was back in August: The Ghost of Don McLeroy Haunts Texas. But things have been happening, and it’s time to take a look.

We found an editorial in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram of Fort Worth, Texas that summarizes the situation: Texas State Board of Education races promise fireworks. A few excerpts (with bold font added by us) will be sufficient to bring you up to date. The editorial begins by mentioning that the state’s election districts are being redrawn, and then it says:

With all 15 [SBOE] seats on the ballot next year, voters can and should influence the dynamics on a public body that sets curriculum standards, shapes textbook content and controls investments for the state’s public schools.

Every seat on the SBOE will be on the ballot! For our purposes, that’s news. The editorial continues:

For years, conservative Christian Republicans have aggressively pursued board seats and then tried to steer curriculum more toward their liking. In recent years, the board went through vigorous, high-profile debates over the place of creationism in science instruction and the reshaping of social studies standards to reflect more “conservative” political ideals.

Yes, we know. Let’s read on:

Only two board members are running unopposed: Republican Pat Hardy, an instructional specialist from Weatherford whose district includes Tarrant County; and Democrat Michael Soto, an English professor at Trinity University in San Antonio.

Both of them are sane. That leaves the other 13 seats in doubt. Here’s more:

Four board members aren’t seeking re-election [alas, they’re not named], and each of those races has drawn multiple candidates. But six Republican veterans on the board will face primary opponents. That includes Chairwoman Barbara Cargill, a science teacher from The Woodlands who was appointed by Gov. Rick Perry in the summer to lead the board through January 2013.

Cargill is Perry’s latest creationist appointee to serve as chairman. Watching that contest should be fun. Moving along:

At this point, those primaries are scheduled for April 3, but that could change, given the election-date fluctuations caused by litigation over redistricting maps for the Texas House and Senate and Congress.

We’ll remember that date. Another excerpt:

Some of the board’s more conservative members have questioned the Republican bona fides of incumbents such as Thomas Ratliff … . And rumor mongers have already tried to make an issue of the sexual orientation of GOP incumbent George Clayton, academic coordinator at North Dallas High School, whose new district covers Collin County. One of Clayton’s challengers is Geraldine “Tincy” Miller of Dallas, a former board chairwoman whom he beat in the 2010 Republican primary.

Miller was one of the sane Republicans on the SBOE. Her loss last time around was unexpected. We don’t know anything about Clayton, but it would be great if Miller made a comeback.

Anyway, that’s the news. The rest of the editorial is the newspaper’s opinion, which we’ll skip, but click over there and read it all. It looks like 2012 is going to be an interesting year for discussing The Controversy in Texas — like all the prior years. But we miss having Don McLeroy around. The ol’ creationist dentist was fun!

Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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4 responses to “Whole Texas State Board of Education On Ballot

  1. Ceteris Paribus

    “[S]ix Republican veterans on the board will face primary opponents.”

    Grover Norquist openly uses threat of primary challengers to keep his incumbent Republican legislators in line. These Texas board challenges would be a lot simpler to figure out if it didn’t involve the complication of politics at the local level.

  2. TFN Insider has been featuring this set of races for the past few weeks. Terri Leo and Marsha Farney are among those incumbants who will not be running for re-election.

  3. Putting “conservative” in quotes is a start, but why in God’s name have we let these radical paranoid authoritarians hijack the word to begin with? These bleeding hearts demand that Johnny to get credit for wrong answers on tests, that teachers be allowed to teach material that has not earned the right to be taught, all on the taxpayer’s dime. That’s as far from conservative as one can get.

  4. Agree with that Frank J! That’s what originally turned me off to the GOP. Why we can’t separate the authoritarian social conservativism from fiscal conservativism is beyond me.