Texas SBOE: Cargill’s Confirmation Hearing

Addendum: The Dallas Morning News reports that Cargill was unanimously approved by the Senate. See State education board chair confirmed by Senate.

Way back in 2011 Rick Perry, the creationist Governor of Texas, had designated Barbara Cargill to serve as chairman of the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE). The Texas Senate never got a chance to confirm the appointment of Cargill, as they weren’t in session when Perry named her.

Cargill was chosen to replace Gail Lowe (Perry’s previous pick) after Lowe was rejected by the Texas Senate — see Texas SBOE: Gail Lowe To Be Out as Chairman? That same fate also befell Lowe’s predecessor, Perry’s earlier choice as chairman, Don McLeroy — the infamous creationist dentist. At the time she was chosen, we said that Cargill seemed as unqualified as those who preceded her — see Rick Perry’s Newest Creationist.

The current legislative session is the Senate’s first opportunity to consider Cargill’s confirmation. As reported in the Texas press, her positions and behavior seem to have moderated from those that won her the support of Perry. A few days ago, in an editorial titled Education board needs a leader, not a ring master, the Austin American-Statesman said:

Barbara Cargill’s past characterization of the ultra-conservative faction of the State Board of Education as “six true conservative Christians” collided this week with an updated view. … Cargill’s updated outlook surfaced in confirmation hearings before the Senate’s nominations committee, which will make a recommendation to the full Senate. … Cargill, R-The Woodlands, told the committee that she has moderated her views and made assurances that she would not abuse the board chairmanship.

Thomas Ratliff, R-Mount Pleasant, told the committee that he and Cargill had differences on issues but that she has been an even-handed presiding officer. “There is no indication of her abusing the position.”


Under intense questioning from state Sen. Kirk Watson of Austin — the nomination committee’s sole Democrat — Cargill said this about the ongoing controversy about teaching the theory of evolution in Texas classrooms: “In biology class and in science class, I want to stick just to the science, like I did when I was teaching. The other (creationism) needs to be taught at church or in the home.”

Today, the San Antonio Express-News has this headline: SBOE chair and others confirmed by Senate committee. We are informed:

State Board of Education Chair Barbara Cargill, who’s promised to end the “circus act” that the agency has become known for, was approved by the Senate Nominations Committee to serve another term, expiring in 2015.

Now the whole Senate gets to vote on the matter. That’s expected this week. The news continues:

Watson, who took a hard line of questioning against Cargill during the Feb. 11 meeting, spoke favorably for Cargill this week. “Texas deserves a balanced and fair State Board of Education chair,” Watson said. He added that while her testimony last week gave him sufficient confidence in her abilities, he “will be watching her actions closely to see if she lives up to her promises.”

So there you are. At the moment it appears that Cargill will be confirmed as chairman of the SBOE. She has obviously improved her politically savvy, but we doubt that she’s changed her thinking. Adult creationists never change. Besides, the vote on her confirmation doesn’t really matter. Even if the Senate were to reject her, Perry has other creationists on the Board whom he can appoint.

So we may end up with Cargill as the confirmed chairman. If so, her performance will be slick, but slimy, and Texas will continue to provide us with amusement for years to come. But we miss the old McLeroy days. That guy was really fun.

Copyright © 2013. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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3 responses to “Texas SBOE: Cargill’s Confirmation Hearing

  1. The Texas SBOE has no oversight (that I recall). Once Cargill is confirmed she can do whatever she wants with impunity. Watson said he’ll be “watching Cargill” that she lives up to her promises, but that’s all he can do at that point: watch and weep.

    Sign me,
    Not Optimistic

  2. Just added this addendum to the original post: The Dallas Morning News reports that Cargill was unanimously approved by the Senate. See State education board chair confirmed by Senate.

  3. SC, it’s possible that Cargill’s confirmation means she’ll actually stick to the science and leave the faith at home. Oh, she won’t like it. Not a bit. But maybe, just maybe, Watson will keep an eye on her and let her know if she starts getting out of line.

    @Doc Bill: How is the SBOE funded? If it comes from the state, then state reps, such as Watson, have the ultimate oversight of yanking their funding around if they don’t behave. It’s not much, but hopefully it’s enough.

    Yes, I’m feeling overly optimistic today. Don’t know why.