Most GOP Candidates for Texas Ed Board Support Teaching ‘Weaknesses’ of Evolution, Posting Ten Commandments in Public Schools

by Dan Quinn

During the Texas State Board of Education‘s debate over science curriculum standards in 2008, supporters of sound science education succeeded in killing a provision that would have required students to learn creationism-inspired arguments about the “weaknesses” of evolution. But nine Republicans in state board races apparently will insist that new biology textbooks include those bogus “weaknesses” if they win election on November 6. Moreover, 11 GOP candidates for the state board support displaying the Ten Commandments in public schools.

The candidates made their positions clear in a voter guide questionnaire sponsored by several religious-right groups. The evolution question is particularly important because the state board is scheduled to adopt new biology textbooks in 2013. Those textbooks could be in Texas public schools for nearly a decade.

The following nine Republican candidates said they “strongly agree” with this statement: “Biology textbooks which do not teach both the scientific strengths and weaknesses of the theory of evolution should be rejected by the Board.”

District 1 Charlie Garza, El Paso (incumbent)
District 3 David Williams, San Antonio
District 5 Ken Mercer, San Antonio (incumbent)
District 6 Donna Bahorich, Houston
District 7 David Bradley, Beaumont Buna (incumbent)
District 8 Barbara Cargill, The Woodlands, (incumbent, SBOE chair)
District 10 Tom Maynard, Florence
District 12 Geraldine “Tincy” Miller, Dallas
District 15 Marty Rowley, Amarillo

Two GOP candidates “strongly disagreed”: Dorothy Olmos of Houston in District 4 and S.T. Russell of Dallas in District 13. GOP nominee Laurie Turner of Corpus Christi in District 2 answered “neutral.” The only Democrat who responded to the survey, Steven Schafersman of Midland in District 15, said he “strongly disagreed.” Three other Republicans — Thomas Ratliff of Mount Pleasant in District 9, Pat Hardy of Fort Worth in District 11 and Sue Melton of Waco in District 14 — did not respond to the survey.

These 11 Republican candidates for the state board said they “strongly agree” or “agree” with the following statement: “I support displaying the Ten Commandments in public school buildings.”

District 1 Charlie Garza, El Paso (incumbent)
District 2 Laurie Turner, Corpus Christi
District 3 David Williams, San Antonio
District 4 Dorothy Olmos, Houston
District 5 Ken Mercer, San Antonio (incumbent)
District 6 Donna Bahorich, Houston
District 7 David Bradley, Beaumont Buna (incumbent)
District 8 Barbara Cargill, The Woodlands, (incumbent, SBOE chair)
District 10 Tom Maynard, Florence
District 12 Geraldine “Tincy” Miller, Dallas
District 15 Marty Rowley, Amarillo

Russell and Schafersman “strongly disagreed.” Ratliff, Hardy and Melton did not respond to the survey.

The survey was sponsored by three Texas-based religious-right groups and the American Family Association (AFA), a Mississippi-based organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center has identified as a hate group. Texas Gov. Rick Perry asked the AFA to organize his prayer extravaganza in Houston in August 2011, an event that occurred just a week before the governor declared his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination. The Texas groups involved in the voter guide project are Texas Eagle Forum, Heritage Alliance and Liberty Institute/Texas Values. Click here to read the voter guide.

All 15 State Board of Education seats are on the November 6 ballot. You can find a listing of all state board general election candidates and a link to the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund’s SBOE Voter Guide here.

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@SIECUS @kmillertfn @TXCapTonight This campaign for medically accurate, comprehensive and inclusive #SexEducation will stretch into next year when the TX State Board of Education is scheduled to make a decision. Find the TFN and SEICUS recs and ways to get involved at: tfn.org/sex-ed #TeachTheTruth pic.twitter.com/eoMv…