Last night’s State Board of Education elections marked another big step toward an end to the culture wars in Texas public school classrooms. With the defeat of incumbent Charlie Garza, R-El Paso, the state board’s faction of far-right ideologues should be smaller next year than at any time since before the 2006 elections.

Zooming out a bit, here’s the big picture that emerged from this year’s elections:

Garza lost to challenger Martha Dominguez, D-El Paso, after just two years on the state board. Educator Sue Melton of Waco defeated longtime incumbent Gail Lowe — a leading member of the board’s far-right faction and a former board chair — in the Republican primary this past spring. Longtime religious-right firebrand Terri Leo chose not to seek re-election after it became clear that she would face a very tough challenge in the GOP primary.

Add that to dramatic shifts on the board after the last election cycle in 2010:

Thomas Ratliff of Mount Pleasant knocked off former board chairman and arch-creationist Don McLeroy in the Republican primary. Cynthia Dunbar, one of the far right’s most divisive voices on the board, chose not to seek re-election that same year.

Consider… Read More

Yes, there’s a presidential election today. But when you step into the voting booth, don’t forget to pay special attention to the races for the State Board of Education.

Because of redistricting, all 15 board seats are up for grabs this year. (You can find a listing of all the state board candidates on the ballot here.) That means all Texans have the opportunity to help choose who will decide what millions of kids learn in our state’s public schools.

So before you head to the polls, review the TFN Education Fund’s SBOE Voter Guide. This voter guide tells you where state board candidates stand on issues such as teaching about evolution, civil rights, separation of church and state, and responsible sex education. The guide also includes candidate positions in races for the Texas House and Senate.

We hope this guide helps you make informed decisions at the ballot box. Now go vote!… Read More

During the Texas State Board of Education‘s debate over science curriculum standards in 2008, supporters of sound science education succeeded in killing a provision that would have required students to learn creationism-inspired arguments about the “weaknesses” of evolution. But nine Republicans in state board races apparently will insist that new biology textbooks include those bogus “weaknesses” if they win election on November 6. Moreover, 11 GOP candidates for the state board support displaying the Ten Commandments in public schools.

The candidates made their positions clear in a voter guide questionnaire sponsored by several religious-right groups. The evolution question is particularly important because the state board is scheduled to adopt new biology textbooks in 2013. Those textbooks could be in Texas public schools for nearly a decade.

The following nine Republican candidates said they “strongly agree” with this statement: “Biology textbooks which do not teach both the scientific strengths and weaknesses of the theory of evolution should be rejected by the Board.”

District 1 Charlie Garza, El Paso (incumbent) District 3 David Williams, San Antonio District 5 Ken Mercer, San Antonio (incumbent) District 6 Donna Bahorich, Houston District 7 David Bradley, Beaumont Buna… Read More

At least nine candidates — all Republicans — in the November 6 elections for the Texas State Board of Education appear to have a pretty dim view of the role and importance of public schools. Responding to a survey sponsored by several religious-right groups in Texas, the nine candidates said they disagree that “it is the government’s responsibility to be sure children are properly educated.” Eight of those nine candidates said they “strongly disagree” with that statement.

But Article 7 of the Texas Constitution makes government’s responsibility here clear:

Sec. 1. SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE OF SYSTEM OF PUBLIC FREE SCHOOLS. A general diffusion of knowledge being essential to the preservation of the liberties and rights of the people, it shall be the duty of the Legislature of the State to establish and make suitable provision for the support and maintenance of an efficient system of public free schools.

Here are the nine State Board of Education candidates who reject government’s responsibility for ensuring that Texas kids are properly educated:

District 1 Charlie Garza, El Paso (incumbent) District 3 David Williams, San Antonio District 4 Dorothy Olmos, Houston District 5 Ken Mercer, San Antonio… Read More

TFN President Kathy Miller will be on Houston radio station KPFT (90.5 FM) at 6 a.m. Thursday (October 18) to talk about this year’s important State Board of Education elections in Texas. If you don’t live in station’s broadcast area, you can catch the livestream of the program, Thresholds, online here. Or you can listen later to the archived show here.… Read More