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UPDATE: TFN Insider has been getting heavy traffic from folks looking to read more about the battle over teaching evolution in Texas public schools. Why does this debate over public school science curriculum standards matter outside Texas? Publishers will use the new standards to create new textbooks. Because Texas is such a large market for textbook sales, publishers typically craft their textbooks for this state and then sell those books to other schools across the country. So the results of this curriculum process could have consequences for far more than just the 4.6 million children in Texas public schools.

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Creationists who control the Texas State Board of Education have now taken a critical step in their crusade to water down instruction on evolution in public school science classrooms. As we told you last month, teacher and academic work groups have proposed strong new science curriculum standards regarding evolution, a concept that provides the foundation for the study of all the biological sciences. Now, however, the state board’s creationist faction is moving to undermine that proposal.

The Texas Freedom Network has learned that evolution opponents on the state board are trying to pack a formal curriculum review… Read More

Texas State Board of Education elections rarely get much attention. But with the adoption of new science standards and textbooks next year, races involving some members of the far-right faction on the SBOE this year have garnered more interest than usual.

In recent days, a number of articles and op-eds have been published across Texas either endorsing the challengers of the extremist bloc on the SBOE or criticizing incumbents’ policies.

Two pieces published in Southeast Texas’ The Examiner, have questioned whether or not SBOE vice chairman David Bradley, R-BeaumontBuna, even lives in the district he represents.

David Bradley, a Beaumont insurance agent and real estate investor, was first elected to the State Board of Education (SBOE) in 1996. Since he stood for re-election in 2000, the issue of exactly where Bradley lives has been raised in every election cycle by the campaigns of his opponents.

The 2008 general election is no different, with Democratic nominee Laura Ewing openly questioning Republican Bradley’s eligibility to represent SBOE District 7, which includes Jefferson, Chambers and Galveston counties and parts of Brazoria and Harris counties.

The paper also asked whether Bradley’s really qualified to even serve on the… Read More

by TFN

An investigation that the Texas-based Liberty Legal Institute tried unsuccessfully to block has concluded that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican nominee for vice president, broke the law when she fired her state’s public safety commissioner. The commissioner had refused to fire a trooper who was Palin’s former brother-in-law.

The investigator’s report is available here.

The Liberty Legal Institute is the legal arm of the Plano-based Free Market Foundation, which itself is the Texas affiliate of the far-right Focus on the FamilyClick here for more background on the case and why a religious-right organization from Texas was involved in a case in Alaska.… Read More

Does the vice chairman of the Texas State Board of Education have a problem with geography?

The Beaumont Examiner is looking at whether David Bradley — a 12-year member of the state board’s powerful far-right faction — has been telling the truth about whether he really lives in the board district he represents. To maintain eligibility to keep his state board seat, Bradley apparently claims an apartment at a business address he has in Beaumont as his family’s official residence. He is also registered to vote there. Yet for his homestead exemption, Bradley claims a home in Jasper County outside his state board district. As the Examiner points out:

The problem appears to be his claim of a homestead exemption on the Jasper County house, because Texas law requires that the property owners certify that they occupied it on Jan. 1 and it is their principal residence for the year in which the exemption is claimed.

The Examiner continues:

In addition to the Jasper County homestead exemption documents, Montgomery’s letter cited the Bradleys’ membership in a Buna church and the fact their child attended Buna public schools without paying tuition as other evidence suggesting they were indeed… Read More

by TFN

The Alaska Supreme Court has just slammed the door on the Texas-based Liberty Legal Institute‘s efforts to shut down the so-called “Troopergate” investigation involving Sarah Palin, Alaska’s governor and the Republican vice-presidential nominee. The court’s decision means investigators may release a report tomorrow on whether Palin improperly pressured her public safety commissioner to fire her former brother-in-law, a state trooper. Palin later fired the commissioner, who had refused to fire the trooper.

This isn’t good news for Palin’s running mate, Republican presidential candidate John McCain. The McCain campaign had furiously struggled to block the investigation and tomorrow’s expected report. If the report shows that Palin abused her power as governor — and then lied about it — the McCain ticket could find itself falling ever further behind the Democratic ticket of Barack Obama and Joe Biden in polls.

The Liberty Legal Institute is the legal arm of the Plano-based Free Market Foundation, which itself is the Texas affiliate of the far-right Focus on the Family. Click here for more background on the case and why in the world a religious-right organization from… Read More

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