So Now Don McLeroy Opposes Public Schools?

Don McLeroy has some explaining to do. Texas Monthly’s Paul Burka reports this revealing quote from McLeroy, a Republican seeking re-election to the Texas State Board of Education, at a recent campaign debate:

“One of the first real breaches of limited government was public education.”

What in the world? Someone who has been on the State Board of Education for a decade, who served one term as its chairman, and who sent his children to public schools now tells us he thinks public education violates the principle of limited government?

Burka rightly comments:

“This is a very strange statement to be coming from the former chairman of the board that oversees public education. Is it better to have limited government and uneducated people, or a government that considers educating the people its foremost responsibility?”

McLeroy appears to be channeling fellow far-right board member Cynthia Dunbar, R-Richmond, who argued in her 2008 book One Nation Under God that public education is unconstitutional. (She also wrote that public education is tyrannical and a “subtly deceptive tool of perversion.”)

It is beyond appalling that people who are openly hostile to public education actually sit on the board overseeing the public school system in Texas. But it certainly helps explain why McLeroy, Dunbar and their allies are so contemptuous of classroom teachers and care so little about the importance of basing what public school students learn on facts and sound scholarship, not fringe ideological agendas.

20 thoughts on “So Now Don McLeroy Opposes Public Schools?

  1. This is no surprise to me.
    This was also a big feature of the Bush administration.
    Put idiots in charge with the goal of scuttling the agency.

  2. This idea that public schools are illegal has been around for quite a while on the far right. Truth is, if they were illegal or unconstitutional, they would have been tossed into the ash can of history years ago by the courts. That did not happen, and there is a good reason for that. It is because they ARE LEGAL. Otherwise, every young attorney just out of law school would be gunning for them just to get his/her name up in lights.

    However, with this statement, Dr. McLeroy has taken us into that old crevice where a bunch of fruitcakes have their own wild, two-bit legal theories about why a littany of things that bother them are somehow illegal. For example, this is the world populated by the crackpots who believe the federal income tax is illegal or Barack Obama should not be President because he was really born in Kenya. Similar places in our culture are occupied by other fruitcakes who subscribe to astrology, alchemy, a flat Earth, the lost continent of Atlantis, the lost continent of Mu, gods from outer space, and other such bizarre fantasies. You do not need a legal or scientific education to develop these theories. All you need is a few facts or half-truths taken out of their original context, and you can make up the rest as you go like an illustrated story in a comic book. Try it sometime.

  3. They’re obviously not legal.
    They’re also a major reason we have a middle class. Which has driven profits for the investment class for decades. Which has stimulated development and an increase in living standards around the globe.
    The struggles of the unions are another reason we have (or had) a middle class.

    It’s corporate welfare that has sucked the middle class dry, whether it’s the military industrial complex, the Health Insurance Corps. subsidies to the oil corps., or the research and development money for new technology which is then diverted to private enterprise without the government (that is, we the people) being adequately compensated. Lumber and mineral exploitaiton on federal lands, etc.

    The Federal highway system is a good example of government overreach. How dare they exceed their constitutional limits?
    What would our economy be like now if we were still driving our flivvers around on gravel roads?

    Is there no limit to DUMB?

  4. P.S.

    I have been busy today and did not hear any news until my daughter and I went to McDonald’s late this afternoon. When we arrived, the story about the fruitcake who flew the airplane into the IRS offices in Austin was on the flatscreen T.V. I hope you will please accept my regrets and condolences that this happened in your town and that so many of your fellow citizens were either injured or killed. Thankfully, it appears that only one may have been killed, and the authorities are not even sure if this person is really dead.

    I read Mr. Stack’s suicide note carefully and in full. It is already being called “The Stack Manifesto” out on the Internet because he appeared to be driven by ideological hatred for the IRS. CNN is having a big debate over it. Was it “domestic terrorism” or “just a crime”?

    As for the content of the note, I was trying to determine whether the key ingredients were candied pineapple, dates, maraschino cherries, or raisins, as well as ascertain the particular type of nut that was in the batter. It appeared to me that Mr. Stack’s complaints were an interesting mix of both classic liberal and classic conservative beefs, leading me to believe that the primary ingredient in this fruitcake is actually mincemeat. Given that mix and the heavy central emphasis on “tax gripes,” I would have to label this guy as a typical, middle-of-the-road Tea Party type. Therefore, I will just come out and say it. I think Mr. Stack was either a Tea Party member or a strong Tea Party sympathizer who just went ballistic this morning. Perhaps we are beginning to see the true colors of the Tea Party movement and a vision of how desperate these people are in their various disatisfactions. We may never know for sure because Mr. Stack had the amazing foresight to burn down his house so the authorities would have a hard time collecting information from his computer hard drive and book shelves. One thing is for sure. This was a premeditated and well-planned incident.

  5. I’m starting to understand why 30% of Texans are watching The Flintstones as if it were a documentary.

  6. Don McLeroy to Texas.

    “Public schools are illegal, nyah, nyah, n-nyah, nyah”
    “Public schools are illegal, nyah, nyah, n-nyah, nyah”
    “Public schools are illegal, nyah, nyah, n-nyah, nyah”

  7. I see these McLeroy types as greedy, selfish, conniving people that are afraid that if you give “the other” a decent education they will rise up and take something away from them. They fail to realize that America’s prosperity has been driven by having a good education widely available for the masses. In most other countries, only the elite (well to do) get those opportunities. They also fail to appreciate that some of our world competitors have caught on and are massively investing in their citizens educations. You can be sure they are not trying to cripple their children with blindingly stupid creationist crap.

    You could laugh at the pathetic little McLeroys if they were not so dangerous to our future as a nation.

  8. For anyone who is reading vote for Thomas Ratliff. He is running against McLeroy. He is a Republican but a moderate one who knows that Genesis is not science.

  9. Yes, Ratliff looks like a good Republican candidate. From what I have seen so far, I would feel comfortable with him actually being on the Texas SBOE—not because he is liberal or moderate but rather because he appears to have his sensible head screwed on straight.

  10. Come on. Is anyone really surprized that McLeroy is opposed to public schools?

    The entire Religious Right and the far Right Republican Party is against public education. That’s why they keep pushing school vouchers that weaken public education so they can get taxpayers to fund private (Christian) schools.

    The entire far Right block on the SBOE is against public education. their actions bear this out. They are only there to do what they can to weaken or eliminate it, or worse, to convert secular public edcuation into taxpayer funded private (Protestant Fundamentalist Evangelical) Christian Schools.

    They like the Dark Ages idea of a wealthy ruling class presiding over the uneducated ignorant masses. Dictators normally shoot the educated elite so they won’t pose a threat.

  11. Ironically, I suspect they wish to establish a government and society based on the principle called: “Survival of the Fittest.” If you are not personally responsible, totally independent from other people, and pulling yourself up entirely by your own boostraps, then you are a weakling who had best fold and die for the good of mankind (read those last six words as:

    “It’s my toy. Mommy gave it to me. I own it, and I don’t have to share with you or anyone else. I have one and you don’t, so that makes me better than you.”

    I don’t know about you guys, but if I had said something like that in the sandbox when I was growing, my fine Christian mother (God rest her soul) would have slapped the absolute snot out of me—and she would have been right in doing it. I have long thought that wingnut conservatives are just selfish little children that didn’t get enough snot slappings when they were growing up, and a Tea Party meeting or demonstration is just their adult sandbox.

  12. David & PHarvey are right. This crap from Don McLeroy (who seems to have channeled Cynthia Dunbar – or maybe he is her male clone) is more extremist teabagger, radical liberterian hooey. What’s the point of terminating public schools? It’s obvious: to make education accessible only to the wealthiest who can afford private schools for their children. Another one of their fascist tactics to destroy the middle class, leaving America bottom heavy with poor people ruled by the wealthiest.

    The stagnation of the middle class began in the 1970’s but got a big boost when Ronald Reagan came to the presidency in 1980. This is also when the Republican Party and the RR married each other. Today 15% of the population owns 85% of the wealth; it’s the most topsy-turvy distribution of wealth in the industrial western world.

    It’s not just that there are such crazy moronic A-holes like Don McLeroy and Cynthia Dunbar running around. It’s the fact that they get so much support from citizens that scares the daylights out of me. In fact, their popularity is not waning but growing. I know nobody agrees with me, but – mark my words – there’s a conservative tsunami coming in November. Buckle your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

    If only the ride was going to be merely “bumpy.” It’s going to be much worse than bumpy! And for a long time – probably another generation.

    Go to and check out these articles:

    * “Texas Education Board Is Trying To Infuse Schoolbooks With Ultraconservative Ideology” by Mariah Blake.
    * “Christian Manifesto Comparing Liberals To Nazis Gathers Signatures Of Religious Right Leaders – And Catholic Bishops” by Peter Montgomery

    If those aren’t scary enough, try this one:
    * Republicans At Highest Levels Really Want To Do Away With Democracy For All” by Mark Ames.

  13. This is no suprise. I thought the whole excersize of re-writing these standards and being as extremist and foolish as he can be WAS to destroy public education. If the far right couldn’t get their vouchers, they’ll just rot it out from the inside.

  14. I still say the elections hinge on turnout. These folks are hysterically fanatical (or fanatically hysterical), but the big mass of centrist, independent voters out there are going to think about who can credibly provide an economy that THEY can survive and hopefully prosper in. And a sensible educations system that will help their kids succeed.
    If there’s a big enough turnout, I don’t think the fanatics can hold their ground.

  15. I wish they would change when these elections occur, holding them in the primary makes it more likely the Republican incumbent will win. Perhaps TFN could weigh in on this timing aspect of SBOE elections.

  16. Let’s prosper by reduce taxes 75 percent. Doesn’t everyone take a 75 percent cut in their paycheck when they are in hopeless debt? Idiots!!!!

  17. These elections like other arcane or overlooked electoral offices like Texas Railroad Commission, are not exciting, do not get much electoral attention, and in this case, offered a “soft target” if you will, for these evangelical insurgents.
    That worked for a while. Now, exactly because of the “Texas schoolbook requirements affect education nationwide” issue, a lot of national attention has been focused on these knuckleheads. They’re not just knuckleheads because of their ideology.
    They’re knuckleheads because they’re knuckleheads, as the Youtube clips of McLeroy aptly demonstrates.
    The Neocons, the social conservatives, and the libertarians have a common enemy. The responsible adults and the progressives who want solutions to the country’s problems. Ultimately, though, they are incompatible with one another. They will tear one another apart.

  18. Really for real fundamentalists do tear each other apart David. You should see the fights that erupt between fundie preachers on the Internet. Take no prisoners. “It is too a sin that you eat Milky Way bars!!!! If you will read Judges 3: 7 more closely, your sin-ridden behind will understand that the Lord authorizes Snickers ONLY.”

    Of course, the Bible says nothing specific about either type of candy bar. It all has to do with the preachers’ personal interpretations of scripture (something literalists supposedly do not do). Put them in complete charge of a country, and I would bet my last dime they would break into hate-based factions who are constantly at each others throats and even shooting at each other.

  19. That’s right.

    As FOUNDING FATHER Thomas Jefferson said:

    “On the dogmas of religion, as distinguished from moral principles, all mankind, from the beginning of the world to this day, have been quarreling, fighting, burning and torturing one another, for abstractions unintelligible to themselves and to all others, and absolutely beyond the comprehension of the human mind.”