Fact-Checking Barbara Cargill

Barbara Cargill, the creationist former chair of the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE), sent supporters an email today announcing her 2016 bid for re-election to the 15-member body. The Republican from The Woodlands near Houston has been one of the leading right-wing culture warriors on the board, helping to politicize the state’s curriculum standards and trying to censor textbook content that doesn’t pass her ideological litmus test. So we thought it would be good to fact-check Cargill’s email announcement. Following are some of what Cargill calls highlights of her 11 years on the SBOE:

“Served on the Governor-appointed Commission for College Ready Texas to improve students’ college readiness”

Well, she might have served on the commission, but she has actually helped undermine college readiness for Texas students. She played a leading role in the disastrous and deeply divisive political battle over new social studies curriculum standards the state board approved in 2010. Cargill and her colleagues were so focused on making sure that the standards reflected their personal and political biases that they paid scant attention to whether the standards aligned with the state’s college readiness standards. In fact, even her creationist ally and predecessor as board chair, Gail Lowe, has admitted as much.… Read More

Gov. Greg Abbott today announced the appointment of Texas State Board of Education member Donna Bahorich, R-Houston, as board chair. Bahorich replaces Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands. We just sent out the following press release:

Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller is expressing disappointment in Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision, announced today, to appoint State Board of Education member Donna Bahorich, R-Houston, as board chair:

“If Gov. Abbott wanted to demonstrate that he won’t continue his predecessor’s efforts to politicize and undermine our state’s public schools, this appointment falls far short. The governor has appointed as board chair an ideologue who voted to adopt new textbooks that scholars sharply criticized as distorting American history, who rejected public education for her own family and who supports shifting tax dollars from neighborhood public schools to private and religious schools through vouchers. This appointment almost guarantees that the board will continue to put culture war agendas ahead of educating more than 5 million Texas kids.”

In 2013, her first year on the board, Bahorich voted against a resolution urging the Legislature to reject private school vouchers. Bahorich also homeschooled her three sons and then sent them to private and religious school. The board… Read More

Evolution deniers don’t like it when science textbooks tell students the truth. And creationists were really unhappy last year when they failed to pressure publishers into undermining the teaching of evolution in new biology textbooks adopted by the State Board of Education (SBOE) for Texas public schools. So now they’re making a last-ditch effort to bully publishers into falsifying the science in those textbooks.

We told you in January that the head of an East Texas organization that opposes the teaching of evolution, the absurdly misnamed Educational Research Analysts, had filed a formal complaint with the Texas Education Agency (TEA). Neal Frey’s complaint charged that Pearson Education’s high school biology textbook was wrong in explaining the close similarities between chimpanzee and human DNA. The textbook said scientific evidence shows that chimps are the closest living genetic relatives of humans. Creationists hate that. Pearson responded to Frey’s complaint by pointing out how he simply doesn’t know what in the world he’s talking about.

Well, this week the Texas Freedom Network discovered that SBOE Chairwoman Barbara Cargill backed Frey’s complaint. Of course, it’s no great surprise Cargill would support a fellow evolution denier’s efforts to dumb down a science textbook. What’s particularly troubling here is how she did it.

Writing in a January 8 email TFN obtained through a request under the state’s open records… Read More

It’s always important to look for the real motivations behind witch hunts. Example: Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) Chairwoman Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, wants to use the right’s manufactured “outrage” over the CSCOPE curriculum tool to loosen restrictions on the ability of SBOE members to censor textbooks for public schools.

Writing in her September “Cargill Connection” e-newsletter to supporters, Cargill says that “now is the time to ride the wave of public concern and outrage about CSCOPE,” a curriculum management system used in hundreds of public and private schools across Texas. Tea party and other right-wing activists have waged a year-long war against CSCOPE, absurdly claiming that the program is anti-American and anti-Christian and promotes Marxism and Islam.

Reporters have accurately noted that critics have provided“scant evidence to back up those assertions.” Even so, Cargill has also criticized CSCOPE, including its failure to include what she considers “another side” in its coverage of evolution — in other words, creationist arguments against evolution that scientists debunked long ago.

Now, Cargill insists in her e-newsletter, anti-CSCOPE activists should focus on giving the SBOE more power to edit content in textbooks used… Read More

“The dietician actually has a degree in food science technology, and they have to take all kinds of science courses, I know, at colleges. And then the person you’re referring to is the retired businessman specializing in finance was the gentleman with the doctorate from Princeton in chemical engineering, so he’s certainly qualified. I’m looking at this list, and I’d be happy to show it to anybody that wants to look. Our biology panels, and there were three panels, because we did have a lot of interest. And I want to know, where were the teachers when we put out the call all over the state? I know they were busy teaching, but a lot of the reviews were done this summer. So please, please, in the future, get the word out to your contacts because we needed more help, actually.”

That’s Barbara Cargill, the Republican chairwoman of the Texas State Board of Education, responding to critics who say the official state review panels for new high school biology textbooks this year were stacked with unqualified ideologues who reject evolution.

The claim that a dietician with a degree in food science technology… Read More

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