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

It’s bad enough that the State Board of Education has become a heavily politicized, dysfunctional embarrassment for Texas. Now religious-righters want control of the Texas Education Agency as well.

State Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center, wants Gov. Rick Perry to appoint SBOE member Charlie Garza, R-El Paso, as the state’s education commissioner and head of TEA.

Yes, that’s the same Rep. Christian whose right-wing politics are so extreme that he lost his re-election bid in the Republican primary last month. And yes, that’s the same Garza who has said creationism should be part of the “mix” of what students learn in their science classrooms. He also opposes teaching sex education in public schools even though Texas has one of the highest teen birthrates in the nation. And he goes beyond arguing that scientists still aren’t sure whether human activity is contributing to climate change. No, Garza argues that scientists aren’t sure that climate change is even happening.

But Christian — who infamously but proudly declared in 2011 that Texas legislators were engaged in a “war on birth control” — is telling right-wing activists that Garza would beRead More

Five of the Texas State Board of Education‘s far-right bloc have endorsed Marty Rowley of Amarillo in the Republican primary for the District 15 state board seat. Rowley’s campaign blog says board Chair Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands; former chair Gail Lowe, R-Lampasas; Charlie Garza, R-El Paso; Terri Leo, R-Spring; and Ken Mercer, R-San Antonio have “unanimously” endorsed him. We don’t know what he means by “unanimous”: a sixth member of the board’s far-right bloc, David Bradley, R-Beaumont Buna, is not on the list of endorsers. (All of the board’s far-right members except Leo are seeking re-election this year.)

Rowley is seeking the board seat currently held by Bob Craig, R-Lubbock, who is not seeking re-election. Anette Carlisle, president of the Amarillo Independent School District’s Board of Trustees, is also running for the Republican nomination for that seat. Steven Schafersman of Midland is the lone Democrat running for the seat.

The Texas Freedom Network’s SBOE Election Watch page includes more information about the board elections and candidates.

(Thanks to TFN Insider reader abb3w for the heads-up.)… Read More

All Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) seats are up for election this year, but so far there’s not a lot of money flowing into those campaigns. Nearly all SBOE candidates have now filed their July 1, 2011-December 31, 2011, campaign finance reports with the Texas Ethics Commission.

Some non-surprises:… Read More

Because of redistricting, all 15 seats on the Texas State Board of Education will be up for grabs in the November 2012 elections. The results of those elections will determine whether the religious right’s corrosive influence over public education will weaken or grow as the board considers what the next generation of public school students in Texas will learn about sex education, social studies, science and other subjects. We plan to publish on TFN Insider candidate announcements for a seat on the SBOE. We will publish announcements in no particular order, and their publication does not constitute any sort of endorsement by TFN. We will redact requests for contributions or mentions of fundraising events from the announcements, but we will provide links to the candidates’ websites (if available). Carlos "Charlie" Garza, District 1, R-El Paso (Incumbent) On Dec. 12, District 1 incumbent Carlos "Charlie" Garza filed to run for re-election. Garza was first elected to the board when he defeated Democratic incumbent Rene Nuñez in 2010. Garza's website is carloscharliegarza.com. Education changes lives! I know this first hand as a migrant farm worker of extreme poverty with illiterate first generation Hispanic parents. Texas public schools provided me the requisite skills to pursue doctoral studies at The George Washington University a premier tier I institution. As an educator and leader I serve the children and community. My goal is to remove obstacles that research suggests harm children of poverty, who are language deficient and are struggling to succeed academically. My goal is to instill in our children how great America is and all we have to do is work hard, believe, dream and then we will achieve. As an SBOE member I have maintained an open door policy, been a responsive servant leader, who is visible and active in school and community events. SBOE's goal should be simple “to organize and lead schools so all children are able to perform at the highest levels possible.” This is our greatest commandment. I enjoy engaging in conversations with parents about how to improve learning and the learning enviroment for students. Read More

The New York Times

In the past year, at least 5 states and numerous cities have joined a long list of places to officially recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Here are some localities that will be formally honoring it for the first time – and what it took to get there. nyti.ms/32i8jfq