Don McLeroy, who infamously declared that “somebody’s gotta stand up to experts” in the debate over teaching evolution in public school science classrooms, has waded into a key Texas State Board of Election (SBOE) election contest. Eric Mahroum announced on Jan. 29 that the creationist former SBOE chair is backing his challenge to incumbent Pat Hardy in the District 11 Republican Primary. Lady Theresa Thombs is the third GOP candidate in that North Texas race.
Mahroum’s website quotes McLeroy as charging that Hardy “disqualified herself to serve” on the SBOE by supporting a proposal in 2011 to allow voters to decide whether to transfer $2 billion from the Permanent School Fund (PSF) to the state’s public education budget. McLeroy’s claims that Hardy “acted irresponsibly” by “encouraging a massive raid” on the PSF, which funds textbooks. The proposal’s supporters argued at the time that voters should be able to decide whether to use PSF money to soften the blow of billions of dollars in devastating cuts state lawmakers ultimately made to the state budget for public schools.
But no one should be fooled here: the real issue here for McLeroy isn’t the PSF. He really opposes Hardy’s re-election because she refused to support his efforts to undermine the teaching of evolution in science classrooms. The PSF issue is mostly a cover.
So we’ll ask the obvious questions: Does Mahroum support McLeroy’s belief that public schools should teach students discredited creationist arguments attacking evolution? Would he, like McLeroy, “stand up to experts” on the SBOE? Or would Mahroum listen to educators and scholars and work to ensure that Texas students get a 21st-century science education in their 21st-century classrooms?