Not Encouraging

by Dan Quinn

We were worried that Carlos “Charlie” Garza, who defeated Democratic incumbent Rene Nuñez, would align with the Texas State Board of Education‘s far-right faction. A newspaper interview with the El Paso Republican isn’t encouraging.

According to the El Paso Times interview, which was published November 7, Garza thinks public schools should teach “multiple views” about evolution — regardless, apparently, of the mainstream scientific consensus — and supports efforts by anti-science board members to water down instruction on this foundational scientific concept:

“Creationism I believe is true. I believe there should be a good mix. I think what the board did was bring in a mix.”

Garza also thinks Thomas Jefferson, who authored the Declaration of Independence and championed separation of church and state as essential to religious freedom, was not an important political philosopher. You might recall that far-right board members have argued that Jefferson wasn’t an influential Enlightenment thinker. Garza oddly credits Jefferson, whose political arguments have inspired supporters of political and religious freedom for centuries, for something else entirely:

“I see him as a historian who did a lot of things for his country, but not a philosopher.”

And in a state with one of the highest teen birthrates in the nation, Garza thinks sex education has no place in public schools:

“I believe it belongs in the home. I don’t think we should be addressing that issue. We are not the children’s parents.”

Oh yes, and that approach is working so well in a state in which nine in ten school districts fail to teach students medically accurate information about responsible pregnancy and STD prevention.

Garza also reveals in the interview that Gov. Rick Perry asked him to run for the state board. We find that interesting because Gov. Perry has often dismissed questions about the board’s controversial efforts to politicize classrooms by claiming that he doesn’t want to interfere with the responsibilities of other elected officials. The reality is that Gov. Perry has done much to aid a takeover of the board by radicals more interested in promoting personal and political agendas than in ensuring that Texas schoolchildren get a sound education. After all, he has twice appointed radicals — Don McLeroy and Gail Lowe — as chair of the board. And now he has recruited a board member who is hostile to sound science, misinformed about history and tragically indifferent to the teen pregnancy crisis in Texas.

As we said, not encouraging.