At her Texas Senate Nominations Committee hearing last month, State Board of Education Chairwoman Barbara Cargill made a number of commitments should her appointment to a second term be confirmed. (It was.) Among those was a commitment to beef up qualifications required for individuals appointed by SBOE members to serve as “expert” advisers during the revisions of curriculum standards for Texas public schools. But perhaps it would be good to know just how Cargill defines “expert.”

During her hearing, Cargill offered an example of someone she thinks is a true history expert: David Barton, the pseudo-historian who founded the Texas-based advocacy organization WallBuilders. Barton, whose bachelor’s degree was in religious education, has made a living by running around the country claiming that our nation’s Founders intended to create a distinctly Christian nation with its laws and government based on Christian biblical principles. Distinguished (and exasperated) historians have repeatedly said such claims are a gross distortion based on an ideological conviction, not facts.

In any case, when asked during her hearing about proposals for various qualifications that should be required of “experts,” Cargill had this to say about Barton:

“One of the… Read More

Today the Texas Senate unanimously confirmed Gov. Rick Perry’s appointment of Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, to a second term as chair of the State Board of Education (SBOE). This is the first time since 2005 that the Senate has confirmed a Perry-appointed SBOE chair. The governor’s previous two appointees, creationists Don McLeroy and Gail Lowe, were so controversial and divisive that the Senate refused to confirm either one.

Cargill’s confirmation comes less than 10 days after state Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, extracted a number of commitments from Cargill during a hearing before the Senate Nominations Committee. Under direct questioning from Sen. Watson:… Read More

This time the Q&A for Barbara Cargill, the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) chair, is administered by Texas Monthly. And just like her appearance before the Senate Nominations Committee last week (or before the Senate Education Committee the week before), I don’t think these answers are going to put to rest concern in the science community.

First off, Cargill has a hard time explaining what  it was, exactly, she and the other creationists on the SBOE intended when they crammed buzzwords favored by “intelligent design” backers (terms such as “sudden appearance” and “stasis”) into the state’s public school science curriculum standards in 2009. And while Cargill is fond of touting her own credentials as a biology teacher, she’s a little fuzzy on how she would teach these concepts:

“Now remember, it’s been about 20 years since I’ve taught. I’m not sure some of these things had even been named yet. I’m pretty sure stasis is a little bit new. Oh, good heavenly days. Well, I can’t… Read More

An Austin American-Statesman editorial comes out, reluctantly, for Barbara Cargill’s confirmation to another term as chair of the Texas State Board of Education. The newspaper’s reasoning:

“(R)eality is that Cargill appears to have the votes. Were the nomination to be rejected, the question becomes whom the governor would nominate next. Two names that immediately surfaced were David Bradley, R-Beaumont, and Ken Mercer, R-San Antonio, perhaps the most conservative of the board’s ultra-conservatives.

Both Republicans have the seniority as well as the conservative credentials to be considered backups should senators ‘bust’ the Cargill nomination. Those two prospects were giving Cargill critics pause — as well they should.

Under intense questioning from state Sen. Kirk Watson of Austin — the nomination committee’s sole Democrat — Cargill said this about the ongoing controversy about teaching the theory of evolution in Texas classrooms: ‘In biology class and in science class, I want to stick just to the science, like I did when I was teaching. The other (creationism) needs to be taught at church or in the home.’

Her Monday appearance and wariness about whom the governor would appoint should Cargill fail the Senate test undoubtedly cinched committee and full… Read More

TFN just sent the following alert to our members regarding SBOE Chair Barbara Cargill’s testimony before the Senate Committee on Nominations. To sign up to get these alerts, click here.

Senator Watson’s tough questions produce promises from Cargill. Will she keep them?

Barbara Cargill got tough questions and made some new commitments when the Senate Nominations Committee considered her reappointment as chair of the Texas State Board of Education on Monday. Under intense questioning from Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, who had clearly done his homework, Cargill addressed a number of issues that have caused some of the biggest problems at the state board in recent years. We’ll know in real time if Ms. Cargill intends to keep the commitments she made:… Read More