Texas SBOE Election: Ratliff, Bradley, & Clayton

As you know, all 15 seats on the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) are up for election this year, and the primary election is set for 29 May. We’ve previously discussed the race for District 5, where creationist incumbent Ken “Dog-Cat” Mercer is being challenged, and District 10, where three GOP candidates are contending for an open seat (see Texas State Board of Education Races for 2012), and for District 8, where the incumbent chairman, creationist Barbara Cargill is being challenged (see Cargill v. Ellis).

Most recently we posted about District 15, an open seat currently held by Bob Craig, one of the sane Republicans on the SBOE. That post was Carlisle v. Rowley. Today we’ll consider a few more races.

In the Texas Tribune located in Austin, Texas we read Two SBOE Rivals Each Facing Tough Primaries. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

Two influential incumbents on the State Board of Education — who are often at odds with each other — are both facing primary challenges that could result in a power shift on the fractious board.

That’s what we like — drama. Who are those two incumbents? The Tribune says:

Thomas Ratliff won a spot on the board after a 402-vote victory in the 2010 GOP primary over Don McLeroy, who brought international attention to the state with his spirited defense of creationism.

Whoa! That’s important. The Discoveroids were furious over the loss of McLeroy, the creationist dentist (see Discovery Institute Weeps for Don McLeroy). Let’s read on:

He [Ratliff] has also been a thorn in the side of David Bradley, widely considered the ringleader of the strictly allied social conservatives who led the board to adopt science standards that required educators to teach “all sides” of evolution in 2009 and pushed for ideologically driven revisions to social studies standards in 2010.

Right. Bradley is another creationist on the SBOE. We continue:

Now they both find themselves entangled in what are likely the board’s two most closely watched primary races.

Neat. A good guy (Ratliff) and a creationist (Bradley) are both being challenged in the primaries. Here’s more:

Bradley has his first serious primary opponent since he was elected to the District 7 seat. Rita Ashley, a former teacher and clerk for the Texas House’s Public Education Committee, has raised more than $30,000 in her bid to unseat him. Ashley has attracted the endorsements of the Association of Texas Professional Educators, the Texas Classroom Teachers Association and the Texas Parent PAC.

That’s good enough for us. We favor Ashley over Bradley in District 7. Moving along:

The conservative establishment has lined up behind Ratliff’s District 9 opponent, Randy Stevenson, who has the backing of the Young Conservatives of Texas, the Texas Alliance for Life, the Texas Home School Coalition and several Republican county chairs in the district. Stevenson, a Tyler businessman, served on the board from 1994 to 1999.

That’s another easy decision for us. Ratliff is our choice in District 9.

Then they mention another race, this one is in District 12, where the incumbent is George Clayton. He recently won that seat by defeating Geraldine Miller, who had been one of the sane members of the SBOE. The creationists rejoiced over Miller’s defeat. Now Miller is trying to win her old seat back. Besides creationism and the other “social conservative” issues, there’s another interesting dimension to that race. The Tribune says:

The outcome of the race may also depend on how GOP voters react to Clayton’s sexual orientation. The former English teacher and Dallas ISD administrator, who is gay, disclosed his sexuality in an email to members of the media in November after he learned it had become the topic of conversation at a Republican women’s club.

Clayton’s personal life doesn’t interest us, but his creationism does. We favor Miller in District 12.

There’s lots more information in the Texas Tribune, mostly about who is contributing to whom. Click over there and read it if the details interest you. All we can say at this point is that the 29 May primary election is going to be important, so stay tuned to this blog.

Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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17 responses to “Texas SBOE Election: Ratliff, Bradley, & Clayton

  1. I’ve been following this for a long time and I’ve never heard anything about Clayton being a creationist. That, and, I’m pretty sure he’s stepping down from the SBOE to run for state senate.

  2. Prompted by your posts on the upcoming SBOE election, I went and looked at the Texas Freedom Network’s web site. How annoyingly uninformative. For a political group promising “everything you need to know about this year’s election,” they sure make it hard to figure out who the creationists are. I guess they are waiting until after the primary, to save themselves some work. But still.

    Nice job SC, thanks for covering this when others who should (ahem) are not.

  3. eric says: “Nice job SC, thanks for covering this when others who should (ahem) are not.”

    There’s almost no coverage that I can see. It’s understandable, because very few people care about school board elections, and with 15 different races that’s a lotta names to sort out. Even people who live in Texas can’t be expected to know them. But it’s precisely because of low interest that a buncha creeps can get into office and do tremendous damage. I certainly don’t plan to write about them all, but I can’t ignore the situation.

  4. “29 May primary election is going to be important, so stay tuned to this blog” ooooh, 4 days to go – exciting.
    However, There is a reason that I find it exciting – and I’m not from Texas. I watch Texas school board elections with great interest due to the past debacle and ensuing damage that affected everyone in the country. It’s hard for me to believe that any Texans, including those who once may have been ambivalent, aren’t now taking great interest, especially when their state, citizens therein, and doltish politicians have received such emphatic notoriety, leading to outside scrutiny and unusual interest.

    Speaking of the Texas school board, any news on “The Revisionists” film?

  5. TPK says:

    I’ve been following this for a long time and I’ve never heard anything about Clayton being a creationist. That, and, I’m pretty sure he’s stepping down from the SBOE to run for state senate.

    Since the McLeroy days, there hasn’t been much creationism action by the SBOE, so it’s difficult to know just from news coverage. But when Clayton beat Miller last time around, the Discoveroids were thrilled. That’s enough for me. As for his stepping down, I donno. The Texas Tribune says he’s in the SBOE primary.

  6. @TPK
    “I’ve been following this for a long time and I’ve never heard anything about Clayton being a creationist. That, and, I’m pretty sure he’s stepping down from the SBOE to run for state senate.”

    Why is Bradley on the ballot if he’s stepping down, as you believe?
    The article not only claims that Bradley is a creationist, but that he is widely believed to be the ringleader with regard to the schoolboard creationism mess.
    I don’t know your actual experience of the matter which you say you’ve been following for a long time, or the impetous for your post, but obviously your views stand in stark contrast to the information provided in this very recent, May 23, 2012, article.

  7. @Donna

    I meant Clayton was stepping down, not Bradley. Could be wrong though, I’ve seen enough “he’s not running” and “he really is running” announcements I may have gotten them mixed up.

  8. OK I just did a search at TFN insider and the latest is he really is running. I’ve just never seen anything to suggest he’s a creationist, which is why I had a “wait, what?” reaction when I read this here.

  9. OK before I quit already, this is what I was looking for. He looks pretty sensible to me, especially compared with some of the nutbars running against him.

  10. @TPK
    I followed the link you provided – thanks. According to some of the comments, Clayton spoke about evolution and science on a radio show. However, his position on those issues wasn’t discussed by the commentors, nor were those particular exerpts used in the article about him, which is a shame. But the merger of “gay” and “creationist” doesn’t make sense to me.

  11. Spector567

    Can someone explain why on earth a texas homeschool group is supporting someone? I thought this about the public schools. Why are they involved?

  12. Donna: “But the merger of ‘gay’ and ‘creationist’ doesn’t make sense to me.”

    Reason # 666 (+ or -) why I rarely use the word “creationist(s).” I would say that most people who are preferentially attracted to their own sex and who actively oppose evolution are unlikely to admit their sexual orientation, and also likely to avoid sexual relationships of any “kind.” OTOH I would expect that evolution-denial in the gay community is almost as common as it is in the general population. Or if they accepr evolution (or more commonly a caricature), its for the same wrong reason that most nonscientists do.

  13. Spector567

    It could be as simple as an election ploy.

  14. My comment “But the merger of ‘gay’ and ‘creationist’ doesn’t make sense to me.” was predicated on the fact that Clayton came out of the closet shortly before his district’s election was held (he won, BTW), and that there has been speculation all along about how conservative his position is regarding evolution/science in schools. Since creationists are by definition biblical fundamentalists whose views on homosexuality are typically hostile, my musing posited whether an allegiance was likely to exist between that group and an openly gay person. I acknowledge that I am generalizing both about creationists’ intolerance of homosexuality and homosexuals’ acceptance of a doctrine that despises them.

  15. @Donna

    I think I know what you mean, but saying that “creationists are by definition biblical fundamentalists” is either wrong or circular, depending on how you define “creationists.” Most rank-and-file evolution-deniers are not Fundamentalists or Biblical literalists (two groups that themselves overlap almost completely). But even if by “creationists” you mean only that small but vocal group of anti-evolution activists (career or amateur), there are still a lot of exceptions. The DI’s David Berlinski is agnostic. Michael Behe is a Catholic who accepts 4 billion years of common descent and says that it’s “silly” to read the Bible as a science book. Even at the more Biblical anti-evolution organizations (e.g. the YEC AiG and the OEC RtB) I detect that the “literalism” of the activists is at least part Omphalism, i.e. they realize, and sometimes admit, that the evidence does not support what they preach and supposedly personally believe. Of course they all enable Biblical literalism, and the paranoid worldviews that usually accompany it (“Hitler” anyone? Bueller?) among their fans.

    The common trait of anti-evolution activists, particularly of the “don’t ask, don’t tell what happened when” ID variety, is not religion or fundamentalism. And certainly not Christianity (Michael Medved, David Klinghoffer and Ben Stein are Jewish; Harun Yahya is Muslim). Rather its a radical paranoid authoritarian ideology. In 15 years of following the “debate” closely (plus another 30 that I was aware of it) the most convicing description of what makes them “tick” is this 1997 article by Ronald Bailey. He practically predicted the “Wedge” document 2 years before it was leaked.

  16. @Frank J
    I’m sorry if I wasn’t clear. I used “creationist” in a broad sense to describe anyone with an agenda to discredit evolutionary biology and replace it with religion – which I believe can be nothing other than the ultimate aim. This goes for any religion and whether those individuals actually have personal religious faith or not. Among anti-evolutionists, then, I find the thing in common, or the lowest common denominator, to be creationism. I admit that here I am exercising my prerogative to classify proponents of intelligent design as creationists, rather than the other way around, which coulde be construed as disrespectful or politically incorrect. However, I’m certainly not opposed to anyone else’s definitions, and if you prefer more precise or different terms than my own, I respect that and am sure that I will understand your meaning.
    I read the article in the link you provided – many thanks. It’s an excellent summary of the modern evolution of anti-evolution, describing the major players and their platforms, and I recommend it heartily as an overview of the subject. However, I read it particularly to learn whether a reason completely divorced from religious idealogy exists for negating Darwinism, and no such case is made although the author spends alot of time discussing theories of the “necessary hypocrisy” (my quotation marks). Although you mention that Berlinski is agnostic, can you cite a professed atheist who is an evolution denier?

  17. Donna: “Among anti-evolutionists, then, I find the thing in common, or the lowest common denominator, to be creationism. I admit that here I am exercising my prerogative to classify proponents of intelligent design as creationists, rather than the other way around,…”

    I too found myself unwittingly changing the definition of creationism (& creationist(s)) 12-15 years ago as I kept reading up on their antics. Then it hit me that most people define them quite differently than us critics. Mostly the see it as honest belief in a recent 6-day creation (much older earth optional). And that’s even if they don’t believe any of that themselves. ID peddlers love to exploit that, and want us to react with “ID is too creationism” rather than to show how they bait-and-switch the definitions.

    Just the other day I was reminded of how few people heard of Kitzmiller v. Dover, compared to the majority that heard of Scopes (usually as the “monkey” trial). When I start telling them how anti-evolution strategies “evolved” they are amazed at how much they missed. Even seasoned critics either don’t know, or consider insignificant, how the “don’t ask, don’t tell what happened when, just promote doubt of evolution any way you can” strategy was building even before “cdesign proponentsists.”