Senate Should Reject Miller Appointment as SBOE Chair

Senate Should Reject Miller Appointment as SBOE Chair

Miller’s Tenure Marked by Censorship Efforts, Divisive Politics, Poor Leadership
February 28, 2005

AUSTIN Senators should reject a record of textbook censorship, divisive politics and poor leadership by turning down the reappointment of Geraldine Miller as chair of the State Board of Education, the president of the Texas Freedom Network said today.

“This is an opportunity for senators to send a message to Gov. Perry that they’re tired of the State Board of Education playing politics with the education of Texas schoolchildren,” said TFN President Kathy Miller.

Geraldine “Tincy” Miller has served on the SBOE since 1984 and has chaired that body since 2003. The Senate Nominations Committee is considering Gov. Perry’s Feb. 23 reappointment of Miller as board chair.

Over the past two decades, Ms. Miller has been a key leader of a bloc of state board members who have worked repeatedly to censor textbook information that does not conform to their extreme personal political agendas, TFN’s Miller said.

In 1995, a year after Geraldine Miller and other board members demanded hundreds of reckless changes to health textbooks, embarrassed legislators voted to limit the state board’s authority over textbook content. Nevertheless, Ms. Miller has continued to work often successfully to censor information in science, social studies and other textbooks that does not pass her political litmus test.

(See the attached fact sheet on censorship efforts during Geraldine Miller’s tenure on the State Board of Education.)

“Ms. Miller’s continued efforts to censor textbooks have been terribly embarrassing for our state, drawing attention from both national and international media,” TFN’s Miller said. “Those efforts have almost certainly contributed to a growing reluctance by major publishers to even submit textbooks for consideration in Texas.”

Geraldine Miller has also led efforts to unseat moderate fellow Republicans on the SBOE and replace them with other censorship supporters. For example, her Prestonwood Country Club PAC worked with Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum in the 2002 GOP primary to unseat then-Chairwoman Grace Shore, a fellow Republican. After Shore’s defeat, Gov. Perry appointed Miller as chair of the SBOE.

As chair, Ms. Miller’s poor leadership skills have alienated citizens with business before the board and even other board members. In September 2004, for example, Ms. Miller moved to cut off testimony on proposed new health textbooks even though nearly half of more than 300 people from across the state who had signed up to testify had not been heard.

“Texans are tired of Ms. Miller and her supporters on the State Board of Education pushing an out-of-the-mainstream agenda at the expense of Texas kids,” TFN’s Miller said. “To approve her appointment as chair for another term would simply amount to rewarding failure in both leadership and judgment. Surely, Gov. Perry can find a more qualified member of the state board who would really put the interests of Texas schoolchildren ahead of personal politics.”