SBOE Candidate: Thomas Ratliff

Because of redistricting, all 15 seats on the Texas State Board of Education will be up for grabs in the November 2012 elections. The results of those elections will determine whether the religious right’s corrosive influence over public education will weaken or grow as the board considers what the next generation of public school students in Texas will learn about sex education, social studies, science and other subjects. We plan to publish on TFN Insider candidate announcements for a seat on the SBOE. We will publish announcements in no particular order, and their publication does not constitute any sort of endorsement by TFN. We will redact requests for contributions or mentions of fundraising events from the announcements, but we will provide links to the candidates’ websites (if available).

Thomas Ratliff, District 9, R-Mt. Pleasant

District 9 SBOE member Thomas Ratliff announced Dec. 6 that he would seek re-election. Ratliff was first elected in 2010 when he defeated Don McLeroy in the Republican primary and then ran unopposed in the general election. His website can be found here.

After talking with family, friends, teachers and taxpayers across the district, it is my honor to announce that I will seek re-election to the State Board of Education.

During my first year in office, I have maintained my dedication to take the partisan politics out of the State Board of Education and to work with both sides of the aisle to do what is best for the schoolchildren in Northeast Texas. While we aren’t there yet, I am proud of what we have been able to accomplish so far. I am also proud to be supported by Texas professional teacher associations that together represent over 15,000 teachers in my district. They know that I am staying focused on education, not politics, and doing what’s best for our students.

I have also worked extremely hard to bring an unprecedented level of cooperation and communication between Northeast Texas and their representative on the State Board of Education. In fact, a school board member told me I was the first member of the SBOE to come talk to his school board in his 11 years on his local school board.

As with my first election, I promise to run a positive campaign that is focused on the challenges facing our schools and what the State Board of Education can do to address those challenges. I will not run a negative race. The people of East Texas deserve better. I will continue to talk about my position on the issues in a straightforward manner and give the voters a clear understanding of their choice in this election. I will also continue to make myself available to anyone interested in public education in Texas. My email is [email protected] and I would be happy to hear from you.

Should I win re-election, my main focus will be to continue to do what I can to get Austin and Washington D.C. out of our classrooms and restore more LOCAL control of our LOCAL schools. I firmly believe that local classroom teachers, school boards, PTAs and local communities know what they want and need from their schools. We don’t need people from the state or federal government trying to force-feed us more one-size-fits-all solutions to the challenges we face in our schools.

I look forward to continuing my travels across Northeast Texas and having a respectful dialogue about Texas public schools.

10 thoughts on “SBOE Candidate: Thomas Ratliff

  1. Yes, he is supported by many teachers across his district because he is not a conservative Republican. He defeated one of the finest men that was ever associated with the SBOE.
    You may disagree, but when we talk of moral values, Don was strong in the belief that we need to put God back in our schools and back in our political life. Ratliff does not believe this. He is for the status quo in the school system stating, “let the local schools control their own systems”. Tell that to Forney Texas and to the TEA, who audits the system for overspending. That mess was created by the audits not being followed up with and the superintendent that ignored the fact they were spending to much for the students they have in the school district. Well when this was discovered, the superintendent got out of town and he was awarded a great job as a superintendent at another school system making more money. Some one didn’t do much vetting or didn’t care to vet the new irresponsible person they hired. Fortunately Forney was able to get help from a previous school board president thats trying to work with TEA to solve the issues, in the millions of dollars. But even though its as responsible for much of the mess there, they will not work with Forney to acheive a solution. We need school choice to have competition, that is the only way to make schools care about the kids, not the kingdom of bureaucrats, like Thomas Ratliff.

  2. Don McLeroid is a piece of garbage. Not only is he a piece of garbage but, like all the religious right scum that work to undermine the United States Constitution, he is a dirty filthy traitor to his country. One dollar of my tax money spent to support religion, ANY religion, is one dollar too much. It doesn’t matter if that religion is Buddhism, Hinduism, Scientology, Taoism, Judaism, Christianity or one of the hundreds of other religions practiced throughout the world. The Consitution strictly forbids the hijacking of taxpayer dollars to support religion. That principle is the very cornerstone of our democracy and one of the main reasons our system of government has succeeded and persevered while so many others have failed.

    But don’t take my word for it; do your own research. Read Ketcham’s 1970 biography of James Madison for starters. Between 1766 and 1774 Madison studied every system of government ever devised by man – every single one. And he found that each and every system that had ever been infused with religion ultimately became terribly corrupt and failed. And that is the ultimate goal of the religious right, to destroy our democracy, to strip away our cherished rights guaranteed by the Constitution and replace them with their infantile and perverted beliefs.

    1. James Breck is the kind of people that supports Ratliff. They are rude, antagonistic, self appointed masters of their own fate, people that don’t debate with real ideas but resort to ignorance of real history and sound judgement, and when they can’t debate, they start calling people horrible names. If the people of Ratliff’s district don’t take out this man in the next election, we will be forced to listen to more of this hate. Victories are usually the only things that put people like this in their place.

      Is this what we want in the most conservative SBOE district in the state of Texas?

      John Cook

      p.s. James we will pray that you are healed from all your demons!

  3. Yes, Don McLeroy was strong in his belief that God should be put in the schools, preferring his own brand of ignorance over listening to genuine expertise, and Barton’s pleasant lies to less palatable truth.

    From the standpoint who feel that “Religion and Government will both exist in greater purity the less they are mixed together”, Ratliff is a definite improvement.

  4. John Cook:

    1. I am not a “kind of people.” I am a “kind of person.”

    2. You have accused me of ignorance of history but cited no specifics. Please elaborate….is it my statement on Madison you disagee with? The statment from the Ketcham biography? According to the History Channel “Ketcham knows the mind of James Madison better than any person alive.” Perhaps you consider yourself more of an expert on Madison? Hmm?

    3. You called me a “self appointed master of my own fate.” If you’re I saying that I believe in self determination then you are correct sir. You’ll not find me sitting around praying for divine intervention.

    4. You stated that my judgement is not sound. Well John let me give you an example of my judgment. In the last SBOE session an item was proposed for insertion into the Texas social studies curriculum that read “discuss efforts by the United Nations to undermine American sovereignty and create a one-world government.” I’ve researched this extensively and found absolutely no evidence ever reported by a credible news source that there is any such conspiracy. None whatsoever. Therefore I judge it to be infantile; we might as well teach kids fairly tales or offer an advanced course on baby talk. And I also think it’s perverted; that is to say it’s a perversion of the Bible. Rapture this.

    5. My rhetoric is inflamatory. But that’s only because of my deep, deep hatred of the religious right for what they have done to the republican party. I was raised on the principles put forth by Barry Goldwater; small government, fiscal restraint and, above all, personal liberty. And every single issue on which the religious right takes a stance -abortion, gay marriage, religious freedom, school prayer, comprehensive sex education, on and on – is designed to restict or eliminate the personal liberties Goldwater championed.

    6. I will not now, nor will I ever, apologize for calling Don McLeroy I piece of garbage. I think he is a totally worthless human being that has long outlived any usefulness he may have ever had.

  5. Speaking as a Christian, I must tell James that he has received the most famous “FU” statement in all of fundie and evangelical Christendom—the famous “I will pray for you” insult. Such insults are reserved for only those infidels who have poured salt and nitric acid so deeply into one of their open wounds that the person uttering the insult has become not only “beside themselves” emotionally but actually several city blocks away from their current physical coordinates on the landscape.

    Just to clarify what John Cook originally said, God has not been removed from the public school classroom. He is in all places at all times. Student prayer to God has not been removed from the public school classroom. As long as there are math tests, students will be praying up a storm at school about the tests and 100 other things. I sure did. Students can still bring their own Bibles to school and read them during breaks. The last time i looked, Bibles were still on the shelves in the public school libraries. Students can still express their Christian faith to their fellow students orally and in writing, and they can write English and social studies compositions about Jesus if they so desire. Christian students and students of other faiths have many other rights in our public schools.

    John Cook is right when he says that something has been taken out. A teacher or school administrator is no longer allowed to teach their personal religious beliefs to their students, order the children to pray, or lead them in a prayer of his/her choosing. Generally speaking, the only teachers or administrators who ever want to do this are Christian fundamentalists or right wingnut evangelicals. So John, quite frankly, we mainline Christians are filled with gladness and thanksgiving that you are unable to do this. Why is that? There are two main reasons:

    1) We do not agree with your theology and do not want it taught to our kids. That is why they go to our church instead of your church.

    2) It would not be fair in the Christian marketplace to allow you people to grandstand about your beliefs in a public school classroom when no one else has the equal right to grandstand about their religious beliefs in that same school.

    Personally, I think Christian fundamentalism and right wing evangelicalism are on the road to extinction. Your best chance for survival would have been to stay under the moist rocks of “separation from the world” that you withdrew to after the 1925 Scopes Trial and win the occasional convert to a life of ignorance, guilt, and misery. Unfortunately, you decided to come out from under that moist rock with a militant and hateful attitude towards your fellow man—with the thought in mind that you might take over the government at various levels and use it to shove your peculiar beliefs down everyone’s throats. People do not respond kindly to that sort of treatment. After a while, equally militant opposition develops because most people figure that a Christian (so-called) religious dictator is really not much better than Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, Assad, or any other tin horn political dictator. They all end up in about the same wretched place in world history, and numerous people get killed in the process. Some are called enemies of the state. Some are called enemies of God. All too often, the enemies of God were simply fellow Christians who committed the unpardonable sin of disagreeing with the religious establishment.

    G.K. Chesterton has said: “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting;it has been found difficult and not tried.” Right now, I think Christian fundamentalism and wingnut evangelicalism have become a major stumbling block on the road to really trying it for once. When both are finally eliminated, and they will be sometime in the next 50 years for all practical purposes, it may have a chance.

  6. John Cook, every time you come here you get spanked. It’s embarrassing (but also sort of entertaining, so thanks for that).

  7. Mr. Cook is a scary person, although I seriously doubt he truly frightens anyone – unless laughter is a problem. As always, thank you Charles for your excellent, incisive commentary. As for Mr. Breck, Bravo Sir!

  8. Charles, you shine out like a shaft of gold when all around is dark!

    Thanks for your eloquent and cogent post.

  9. I would just like to finish up here by saying that Tom Ratliff has been doing a fine job on the Texas SBOE, and I would vote for him if I lived in his district. He also looks as if he probably attends some reasonable church somewhere. Keep up the good work and God bless you.