David Bradley Calls It Quits on the Texas State Board of Education

by Jose Medina

There is, sadly, a considerable list of divisive figures who have served on the State Board of Education. But even within that context, it’s hard to name one who has been more divisive than David Bradley, R-BeaumontBuna. On Monday Bradley announced he would not seek re-election next year and will retire from the SBOE District 7 seat he’s held since he was first elected in 1996.

Here are just a few of the highlights of Bradley’s tenure on the board:

  • Although he serves on the board that oversees the state’s public schools, Bradley disagrees that government has a responsibility to ensure that all kids get an education.
  • He was indicted on a charge of violating the state’s Open Meetings Act when he and two other state board members met unofficially with financial advisers during a period when the board was hiring consultants for the massive Permanent School Fund.
  • He has bragged that the state board “spanked” teachers who complained about curriculum standards the board was mucking up.
  • Last year, when the deeply flawed and highly offensive Mexican-American studies textbook was before the board, he called the book’s critics “left-leaning, radical Hispanic activists” who wanted “special treatment.” When it became clear the textbook would fail, he hatched a behind-the-scenes plot to break the SBOE quorum and “Deny the Hispanics a record vote.” And he would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for us meddling TFN people and our open records requests.
  • He famously offered a $1,000 reward to anyone who can show him where “separation of church and state” is found in the Constitution — his specious argument being that if the exact words aren’t there, then the principle isn’t either.
  • On evolution, Bradley said: “Evolution is not fact. Evolution is a theory and, as such, cannot be proven. Students need to be able to jump to their own conclusions.” He infamously declared: “If some of my associates want to believe their ancestors were monkeys, that is their right. I believe that God is responsible for creation… Given that none of today’s scientists were around when the first frog crawled out of the pond, there is no one who can say example what happened.”
  • He says critical thinking skills are “gobbledygook.”
  • Those much-maligned social studies curriculum standards, approved in 2010, that made Texas a national laughingstock? Bradley was one of the architects. It was during that episode that Bradley joined other members in removing civil rights icon Dolores Huerta from the standards because, they argued, she isn’t a good role model and because — get this — she’s still alive.
  • And who could forget what he said when responding to criticisms that he wasn’t qualified to oversee the state’s billion-dollar Permanent School Fund: “If you sit on the mental health commission, do you have to be retarded? If you sit on the [Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission], do you have to be a drunk?”

We hope that voters in Bradley’s district will now choose a State Board of Education member who checks his or her ideology at the door and focuses exclusively on providing the best education possible to Texas children. District 7 hasn’t had such a member in more than two decades.

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