Senate Takes Up McLeroy Nomination!

2:50 p.m. – It looks like the Texas Senate is about to begin discussion of nominations, including Don McLeroy as chairman of the State Board of Education. You can watch the Webcast here or follow along on TFN Insider.

2:55 – Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, moves to sever McLeroy from the nominations list. The request is granted, and the Senate now votes to confirm the entire nominations list except for McLeroy.

2:57 – Sen. Mike Jackson, R-La Porte, chairman of the Senate Nominations Committee, rises to speak for McLeroy. Sen. Jackson basically reads through McLeroy’s resume and then moves for his confirmation.

3:00 – Sen. Van de Putte rises to speak against McLeroy’s confirmation. She notes that she is calling for the rejection of a nomination for the first time in her legislative career: “He’s a decent man. He’s a good man. My opposition to his position as chair has nothing to do with this man of faith and this man, I think, of internal courage and this veteran. My opposition to the chairman of our State Board of Education has to do with his management and leadership style. . . . We’ve been amazed by the divisiveness and the dsyfunctionality of the board.”

3:03 – Sen. Van de Putte: Under McLeroy’s leadership, the state board “has become the laughingstock of the nation.”

3:06 – Sen. Van de Putte goes through a long list of problems that have plagued the state board under McLeroy’s leadership, including divisive “culture war” battles, official actions in violation of state law and disregard for the work of educators and specialists.

3:11 – Sen. Eliot Shapleigh, D-El Paso rises in opposition to McLeroy’s confirmation. This has nothing to do, Sen. Shapleigh says, with discrimination against McLeroy’s religious views. He talks about businesspeople who are so concerned by the direction of the board — and especially its hostility to science — that they are considering leaving Texas for better schools.

3:13 – Sen. Shapleigh brings up McLeroy’s endorsement of a book that says parents who want their kids to learn about evolution are “monsters,” scientists are “atheists,” and clergy who see no conflict between science and faith are “morons.” The senator recounts various board train wrecks, including the sabotaging of nearly three years of work by teachers and specialists to revise the state’s language arts standards. And he notes a particularly troubling quote from McLeroy: “Scientific consensus means nothing.”

3:16 – These speeches are no less than a scathing indictment of the antics of the state board under McLeroy’s chairmanship.

3:18 – Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, rises in opposition to McLeroy’s confirmation: “This is not about partisanship. Please forget about the shouting and bickering that have surrounded this nomination. . . . This is about his leadership as chair.” “This is not about what divides us. It’s about what should unite us. Education is the great bridge for all of our people.” Watson says it is entirely appropriate for faith to guide the decisions of lawmakers, and he quotes the Bible: “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” Under this board, however, “education has become endlessly and hopelessly divisive.” McLeroy “has embraced the controversy and deepened the divisions.” “There is a lack of credibility in this board under Mr. McLeroy that’s undermining the institution of education.” Watson decries the “endless culture wars” that have plagued the board and its work.

3:25 – Sen. Watson: “Dr. McLeroy stands proudly by his notion that education is so important that it needs to be politicized. Well, I say that education is far too important to be little more than a front in ideological, political and cultural battles.” Sen. Watson has been very eloquent. It’s well worth your time to listen to the whole speech on the video archive.

3:26 – Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, rises in opposition to McLeroy’s confirmation. “His faith has very little to do with anybody’s opposition to him. The fact of the matter is we haven’t done our job concerning the State Board of Education.” Sen. Ellis decries the failure of the Legislature to pass legislation reforming the state board this year. “Dr. McLeroy isn’t the only problem on the State Board of Education.” “We ought to reform how people are selected to go on the State Board of Education.” “It’s embarrassing to hear what people (outside Texas) have to say about our State Board of Education.” Sen. Ellis suggests that Gov. Rick Perry should not have forced this vote — he should have permitted McLeroy to withdraw without having to face a vote.

3:34 – Sen. Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, rises to support McLeroy’s nomination. Ogden is McLeroy’s senator. Sen. Ogden says the descriptions he has heard of McLeroy are wrong. “There is a certain amount of innuendo” in the criticism of Ogden, to some degree “it’s a slur.” To suggest that criticism in the national press is a reason not to confirm him is “ridiculous.” Sen. Ogden vouches for McLeroy’s qualifications and criticizes the quality of the arguments against him. “He has a better scientific background that most of us” because of his bachelor’s of science degree in engineering and he’s a doctor of dentistry.

3:37 – Wow. Now Sen. Ogden veers into some intersting territory. “A theory is just a theory. They are not irrefutable facts of nature.” We are actually seeing arguments on the floor of the Texas Senate about the nature of scientific theories. Sen. Ogden dismisses criticism that McLeory doesn’t accept the theory of evolution or the science of global warming. McLeroy is not on the fringes of science and historical thought, Ogden says, because the history of science includes the questioning of theories.

3:42 – Sen. Ogden: He’s qualified, and he’s been duly elected. “I think Texas is watching here because I think that whether intention or not, there will be a perception among a significant percent of Texans . . . that we are imposing a religious test. . . .” The perception is “if you are conservative, if you believe in the infallibility . . . of the Bible, you need not apply.”

3:45 – Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, rises to speak in favor of McLeroy’s confirmation. Religion is foundational to education, he argues. “Why do we care” what the rest of the country says, Sen. Patrick asks. This is about politics if the final vote is a straight party vote, Democrats vs. Republicans.

Good heavens. Sen. Patrick says he didn’t come to the Senate today already decided how he would vote on McLeroy’s confirmation. Yeah, right.

Patrick calls the arguments against McLeroy “glittering generalities.” “If this isn’t about evolution, if this isn’t about what the Bible teaches, what is this about?” Sen. Patrick says he is among those who say, “In God we trust.” He asks: “In God We trust is good for sometimes,” but not in science? “Members, do not come here with a closed mind to vote against him” or to vote for him.

3:50 – Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls, speaks for McLeroy’s confirmation. He doubts arguments that rejection of McLeroy isn’t about religion. “This is an inquisition.”

Once again, we see social conservatives using faith as a weapon to bludgeon their opponents. Despicable.

3:52 – Sen. Bob Deuell, R-Greenville, speaks in favor of McLeroy’s confirmation. Short statement.

3:54 – Sen. Mario Gallegos, Jr., D-Houston, speaks against McLeroy’s confirmation. “Common sense should prevail here. . . . Look what this nominee says, what he thinks. Is this nominee who you really want to lead the education of the children of Texas?” (Not sure we got that quote entirely right.)

3:58 – The vote: 19 votes for his confirmation, 11 against. McLeroy’s confirmation fails. We will get a list of how senators voted ASAP.

UPDATE: The final vote was entirely along party lines. All Senate Republicans voted for confirmation, while 11 Democrats voted against. Democratic Sen. Lucio was present but did not vote.

33 thoughts on “Senate Takes Up McLeroy Nomination!

  1. Senator Ogden is making an idiot of himself

    Dentist != “Doctor of Dental SCIENCE”

    “Hell, he IS a scientist”

    He didn’t just throw out the “it’s only a thoery” crap, did he? Aaaarg!

  2. Sen. Ogden sounds like a complete fool. He has no idea how badly he is embarrassing himself to the world.

  3. I can’t help but notice how weak McLeory’s defenders are. Very weak arguments in favor of McLeroy.

  4. Is the meeting still happening? I cannot get the webcast to play. I guess the Texas Senate tells people they can watch, but you have to have a B.S. in computer science to figure out how to play it.

  5. Van de Putte, Shapleigh, Watson, and Ellis were absolutely eloquent and effectively non-partisan in their points: it’s all about decent leadership. Gallegos cut right to the chase: Don’t listen to what the reports say, “Listen to what he says”!
    Ellis was particularly on-point: we, too, (Texas legislature) are to blame!” We desperately need legislation next cycle to set qualifications for candidacy for the SBOE. I’ve written Shapiro and Eisley on this; will not copy Ellis. Otherwise, we treat the symptoms but not the disease.
    I”m anxious to see the individual votes!
    Ron Wetherington

  6. “He was plucked and quartered and thrown to Beelzebub. And tonight a mighty torch procession and a gala evening at TFN.”

    Actually. Good sense prevailed and Thomas Jefferson’s belief that the people (through their representatives) would ultimately do the right thing has been vindicated.

    We will now wait to see which other far right wing weirdo Perry nominates to replace him—or maybe he will nominate him again.

  7. Hmm. 19 votes for his confirmation and 11 votes against it, but his confirmation fails in spite of having more votes for it. Am I missing something?

  8. So this removes him as Chair of the SBOE, but he’s still on the board correct? and now this means Perry has to nominate a new Chair? I’m not trying to be negative, cause believe me, I’m as happy about this as anyone. But my concern is this seems like a symbolic thing more than any real change at this point. Won’t Perry just name another one of the pack on the board for the recently vacated post?

  9. I find this debacle to be amazing.

    The views presented by the republican senators are so utterly insane that every decently inteligent person who isn’t a sociopath should consider them to fail the very simple litmus test of beeing reasonably intellectually honest in and sane.

    I would refuse to vote for a party constantly represented by idiots and persons pretending to be idiots defending idiots, I guess the two party system that your voting laws create are largely to blame for this not happening though, if there was a choise to vote conservative without automatically voting for religious nutballs and to vote liberal without voting for religious pandering the political climate would soon change on these issues since they would suddenly have a lot less influence. Just imagine how different the situation would be if a few of those republicans were free to vote their minds instead of having to stick to the opportunistic party line of “Faith must trumph Reason”.

    intelligent enough to see that evolution cannot be reasonably rejected should automatically turn away from voting republican. In any decently educated society a party that spoke like these senators should be fringe at best.

  10. “Onlookers were stunned today when the Texas Legislature was struck by an attack of rationality and reason. Several Republicans were rushed to local hospitals for emergency treatment of indignant apoplexy, muttering ‘God will strike you gay, liberal, atheists down!’ and ‘Praise Jebus, y’all is going to hell!’ “

  11. Re Paul: Yes but they should be beginning to realize that blatant religiosity with regard to textbook standards and ID (particularly YEC) in the classroom is political self-mutilation.

  12. From

    Senate confirmation of gubernatorial appointments requires a two-thirds vote. McLeroy won the support of all 19 Senate Republicans, but 11 Democrats voted against him. It takes 11 votes to block an appointment. Sen. Eddie Lucio, D-Brownsville, was present but did not vote.

    Is anyone familiar with Eddie Lucio, why he did not vote?

  13. Video archives? Got some links?

    NCSE did real service putting McLeroy up on YouTube — can y’all get some of these speeches off the archives and moved over to YouTube? Boy Scout First Aid used to teach that sunlight kills pathogens, and this vote seems to support that idea — expose these guys and let them tie their own nooses, eh?

  14. Re: Ralph Arvesen

    Don’t know him too well, but it would seem perhaps that since the 11 necessary votes had been cast, he saw no need to potentially alienate himself from even the most minute segment of his constituents.

    They are still politicians after all.

    Not entirely sure, you could call/email him.

  15. You ones iz all agoin’ to hayul!!!!

    Well, somebody needs to speak up on behalf of the peanut gallery.

  16. Re: Paul

    In the short term it is probably symbolic. My understanding is: McLeroy stays on the board. Perry names a new Chair, probably Cynthia Dunbar as closest to McLeroy. The new Chair stays for two years until another Senate confirmation hearing.

    Then again, perhaps Perry will surprise me.

  17. Speaking as a conservative, rational Republican (yes, there are quite a few of us out here!), this is good news and bad news.

    The good news is that this religious lunatic will not chair the Texas State Board of Education. It would be even better if he could be completely removed from the board.

    The bad news is that it took the Democrats to deny him the chair, as every member of my party chose to pander to the 6,000-year-old-Earth, T-rexes-really-were-Jesus-horses crowd, instead of choosing to uphold sound science education free of religious indoctrination.

    To add to my embarrassment, this clown McLeroy has an engineering degree, as do I.

    While I’m very pleased at the outcome, I’m not exactly holding my head high right now.

  18. Who succeeds McLeroy? Does Governor Good Hair get to pick? Or does the SBOE vote for a new chair? Does McLeroy remain on the SBOE? And if the good Gov. does the picking, might he pick Terri Leo, god forbid? Aghhhhhhhhhhhhh…..

  19. Gator Country: There are far more Republicans like you in Texas than like the ultra-conservatives who have the coin and run the TX GOP. Most of what they have done has been in secret. Shining a light on these shenanigans can go a long way towards an open revolt in the TX GOP (which is desperately needed) and for true conservatives to actually take their party back from the lunatic fringe.

  20. Gator Country: I just gotta call you out on that “Speaking as a conservative, rational Republican…” intro. Given recent history and the travails of the Republican party at present, each of those descriptors seem– considered in pairwise fashion– mutually exclusive. The notion that there exist rational conservatives, much less rational Republicans, is questionable at best. Conservative Republican seems like a gimme, but not exactly a selling point for your POV. Perhaps you should ponder the definition of rational, since that seems to be the weak link.

  21. good news he was not confirmed, but bad news that a majority still voted to confirm him. he was rejected by an arbitrary rule of 2/3. it still says that a majority of Senators are idiots themselves – or just voting for an idiot because it will gain them votes at the expense of the education of the children of Texas. idiots or morally bankrupt. you choose.

  22. “The notion that there exist rational conservatives, much less rational Republicans, is questionable at best. Conservative Republican seems like a gimme, but not exactly a selling point for your POV. Perhaps you should ponder the definition of rational, since that seems to be the weak link.”

    This is utterly ridiculous.

    First, both parties hold views that are irrational, at best, so it’s not like those Republicans have a monopoly on being irrational. Secondly, it is entirely possible to vote for either party on rational grounds while choosing to bite the bullet and tolerate their more insane views. This applies to third parties, too. Being of any given party does not require that one be irrational, just that you accept the BS with the stuff that you agree with. To claim otherwise amounts to fanaticism. It’s pretty obvious that he meant that he’s a science-accepting Republican rather than a creationist nut and I don’t know why you would contest the existence of such a person.

  23. That’s okay Gator Country. I am not a Republican myself, but it’s not wrong to be a Republican. This country has had many great Republican politicians, leaders, and statesmen—honorable and sensible men and women all together. Sometimes we DO need to look out for the conservative, business, and defense side of our American house. Sometimes we do need to kick some foreign butt like that little two-bit creep with a few firecrackers over in North Korea. Heck, even I was for Ronald Reagan myself in 1980.

    The thing I object to is this vast panel of “extremist fruitcakes” like Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter (Skeleton Blondie), James Dobson, and so forth that took over the party of Abraham Lincoln and proceeded to destroy it and my country. Where have all the real Republicans like you gone? Where are the Dwight Eisenhowers of our day? Where are the Howard Baker Jrs. of our day. Where are the Abraham Lincolns of our day? You guys come out of hiding and take your party back. Heck, I might even vote for one of you if you make me a really good case. I bet good Democrats, good Republicans, and good Independents could get together one day and put this country on the right course.