Nine Candidates for Texas State Board of Education Reject Government’s Responsibility for Educating All Children

by Dan Quinn

At least nine candidates — all Republicans — in the November 6 elections for the Texas State Board of Education appear to have a pretty dim view of the role and importance of public schools. Responding to a survey sponsored by several religious-right groups in Texas, the nine candidates said they disagree that “it is the government’s responsibility to be sure children are properly educated.” Eight of those nine candidates said they “strongly disagree” with that statement.

But Article 7 of the Texas Constitution makes government’s responsibility here clear:

Sec. 1. SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE OF SYSTEM OF PUBLIC FREE SCHOOLS. A general diffusion of knowledge being essential to the preservation of the liberties and rights of the people, it shall be the duty of the Legislature of the State to establish and make suitable provision for the support and maintenance of an efficient system of public free schools.

Here are the nine State Board of Education candidates who reject government’s responsibility for ensuring that Texas kids are properly educated:

District 1 Charlie Garza, El Paso (incumbent)
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 12 Geraldine “Tincy” Miller, Dallas
District 15 Marty Rowley, Amarillo

The “voter guide,” along with “grades” given to candidates by the sponsoring groups, is available here.

Among other Republican candidates, Laurie Turner of Corpus Christi, who is seeking the District 2 seat, and R.T. Russell of Dallas, who is seeking the District 13 seat, said they agree that government is responsible for ensuring that children are properly educated. Tom Maynard of Florence, who is seeking the District 10 seat, answered “neutral.” Pat Hardy of Fort Worth, the District 11 incumbent, and Sue Melton of Waco in District 14, did not respond to the survey. The voter guide lists no information for Thomas Ratliff of Mount Pleasant, the District 9 incumbent.

Just one Democrat responded to the survey. Steve Schafersman of Midland, who opposes Rowley in District 15, agreed that government is responsible for ensuring that children are properly educated. The survey’s sponsors gave Schafersman a grade of “F” in their voter guide.

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.

All 15 State Board of Education seats are on the November 6 ballot. We have 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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Texas Civil Rights Project

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