RR Group Quizzes Texas Ed Board Candidates on Abortion, Assisted Suicide, Stems Cells

More evidence for how the Texas State Board of Education has become a battleground in the culture wars rather than a body that makes education a priority: a candidate questionnaire from the religious-right group Texas Alliance for Life.

The state board approves curriculum standards and textbooks for public schools. But Texas Alliance for Life doesn’t appear to be interested in any of that. Check out some of the items from the group’s questionnaire for candidates in the May 29 Republican and Democratic primaries:

Do you support or oppose the reversal of the U.S. Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision, which allows abortion for any reason, even as a method of birth control at all stages of pregnancy, including late term abortions?

Do you support or oppose laws banning assisted suicide?

Do you support or oppose public funding for research that involves embryonic stem cells, which requires the destruction of human embryos?

Do you support of oppose a law prohibiting health insurance coverage of elective abortion?

From a cover letter accompanying the voter guide:

“These issues, in which public policy decisions have enormous significance, are some of the most critical confronting Texas and America.”

None of the 10 questions on the survey has anything to do with the state board’s responsibilities or authority. The questions are all about culture war issues. The questionnaire is designed simply to weed out any candidate who doesn’t buy into the religious right’s political agenda. And that’s a big part of the reason why we have a state board that puts personal and political agendas ahead of giving Texas students an education that prepares them to succeed.

10 thoughts on “RR Group Quizzes Texas Ed Board Candidates on Abortion, Assisted Suicide, Stems Cells

  1. Well TFN. You need to have your own forum, invite all of the candidates, and ask your own “litmus test” questions:

    1) How old is the Earth?

    2) Was George Custer a great American?

    3) Within the range of squid brains, how big is yours?

    1. Charles: The Texas Freedom Network Education Fund is about to announce our co-sponsorship of State Board of Education candidate forums with a radio station in Houston. Those forums will be focused on education. Stay tuned. (We might leave out the question about squid brains.)

      1. Just in case, I’ll have a squid brain answer ready for the forum! And maybe an answer to an education question or two as well. Thanks for sponsoring the forums TFN!


    2. PZ Myers would be deeply offended at your comparison. Cephalopods are relatively intelligent.

  2. There is one other option—a very popular one in Texas. All of the “good guy” candidates TFN would support could lie and send back their Texas Alliance for Life survey forms checked with the answers they would most like to hear. Their own outright lying has never stopped the so-called conservative “Christian” members of the Texas SBOE from pushing their agenda with lies and various shades of unreality. If most of you are going to hell anyway, what would it matter? Maybe the Texas SBOE needs a heavy dose of its own medicine thrown at it?

  3. Nice work bringing this into the light. How does a group like this even get to have a ‘candidate questionaire’? And please forgive my ignorance (I was educated in Texas) but is this board elected or appointed. If appointed, who appoints them? Sorry for the stupid questions.

    1. Bill,
      All 15 State Board of Education seats are elected from single-member districts in partisan elections. The governor chooses one of those 15 to serve as chair, subject to Senate approval when the Legislature is in session. The governor also appoints the state’s education commissioner, whose appointment is also subject to Senate approval.

    2. It’s a free country; the identity of the candidates, public information. Anyone willing to come up with a list of questions, print it, and mail it with a SASE can have a “candidate questionnaire”.

      Of course, whether J. Random Schmuck gets answers back is another matter. “I can call spirits from the vasty deep.” “Why, so can I, or so can any man; But will they come when you do call for them?” Were an out-of-stater like myself to send such a questionnaire, I’d be unlikely to get much in the way of answers. As an in-state political group of modest size, they’ve rather more chance chance.

  4. Dan. If only the bad guys show up, I would ask the squid brain question.

    Forgive my cynicism, but recent events in Tennessee have me a bit depressed. Texas at least has TFN. Tennessee has nothing. The whole damned state is defenseless from one border to another, and the state legislature has been taken over by crazy people. The new Republican governor, who has been something of a question mark all along, has proven that he is about as spineless as—no—that he is an invertebrate like Mitt Romney.

    Listen up Texans. If you would like to know what it would be like to actually live under the Rousas Rushdoony/Michele Bachmann regime in one of the 50 states, you should go to Tennessee. They are implementing it even as I write this. You think you have it bad in Texas!!! You ain’t seen nothing like this. Book your vacation now, but carry cosmetic disguise articles and wire snips with you. You will need them to get by the secret police and make it through the razor wire at the border on your way back home.

  5. Harrumph!

    Who appointed The Texas Alliance for Life “gatekeeper and overseer” for the morality and intellectual development of 30 million Texans?

    “Alliance for Life” sounds more like “dictator for life.” Guess they’re too uncomfortable with the concept of democracy as applied to the marketplace of ideas.