The Texas Republican Party has long trumpeted a defense of “local control” for communities and school districts against what it sees as the abusive authority of federal and state government. In fact, the state party’s official platform makes it explicit, particularly when it comes to public education:

We support school choice and believe that quality education is best achieved by encouraging parental involvement, protecting parental rights, and maximizing local independent school district control. District superintendents and their employees should be made solely accountable to their locally elected boards. We support sensible consolidation of local school districts. We encourage local ISDs to consider carefully the advantages and disadvantages of accepting federal education money.

But State Board of Education member David Bradley, R-Beaumont Buna, a ringleader of the board’s far-right faction, thinks local communities don’t know how to run their own school districts. Here’s what he had to say at a candidate forum on Monday:

“Everyone likes to say ‘local control,’ but left unchecked, sometimes people don’t always do the best jobs.”

Bradley has served on the state board since the 1990s and is seeking re-election this year. He certainly hasn’t been shy over the years… Read More

So what's with the dishonest campaign to remove from office a State Board of Education member who had the gall to challenge -- successfully -- the re-election of a prominent member of the state board's far-right faction in 2010? Just another example of the far right's contempt for Texas voters. We're talking about Thomas Ratliff, a Republican from Mount Pleasant who defeated Don "Somebody's Gotta Stand Up to Experts" McLeroy in last year's GOP primary for the District 9 state board seat. McLeroy, a College Station dentist and self-identified "young Earth creationist," had served as Gov. Rick Perry's state board chairman from 2007 to 2009 and led efforts to dumb down instruction on evolution in public school science classes. Ratliff's victory over McLeroy infuriated other far-right board members and their supporters. But because voters clearly preferred a common-sense approach to education over McLeroy's repeated efforts to promote his own personal beliefs in public schools, Ratliff's critics have adopted a legal strategy to get him thrown off the board. They claim Texas law forbids Ratliff from serving on the board because he is a registered lobbyist. But that prohibition applies only to lobbyists who are paid to…… Read More

Kate Alexander of the Austin American-Statesman has a story about how anti-Muslim bigotry almost derailed a major public school budget bill last week, nearly forcing the Texas Legislature into another special session. Prodded by anti-Muslim hysteria from right-wing activists (like the folks at Texas Eagle Forum), a number of House members voted against the budget because of concerns that Harmony Public Schools -- a successful charter school network -- supposedly has ties to radical Muslims from Turkey. Alexander reports that far-right lawmakers fear the schools are being used to indoctrinate American students: State Rep. Dan Flynn, R-Van, requested an investigation of Harmony. He said Harmony teaches Islamic culture, and "you cannot distinguish Islamic culture from their religion. Where there is smoke, you should look into it." But look who came to the defense of Harmony schools: State Board of Education member David Bradley, R-Beaumont Buna: "There is a lot of misinformation, a certain level of fear and a small helping of bigotry that needs to go away," said State Board of Education member David Bradley, R-Beaumont. Bradley said he would be the "first to sound the alarm" if there were anything to be alarmed about. But…… Read More

The Texas State Board of Education is about to take up a proposed resolution attacking Islam and claiming that social studies textbooks are anti-Christian. TFN Insider will keep you updated on progress. 9:53 a.m. - We notice that board members Barbara Cargill and Don McLeroy have been going through world history textbooks currently used in Texas publics schools. Cargill has them stacked at her desk. We anticipate that she and McLeroy will use examples from those books to try to prove that they reflect an anti-Christian, pro-Islamic bias. But those textbooks were approved for Texas schools by this board in 2002, and social conservatives at the time were very happy. Why? Because, as news reports from the time explain, they were able to force publishers to make numerous changes, including the addition of positive references to Christianity and the deletion of neutral or positive references to Islam. From a Houston Chronicle article dated Oct. 30, 2002 (now archived on a conservative Christian website): The discussion of the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., by Muslim extremists was closely read by many reviewers. Raborn criticized a passage in the Glencoe/McGraw-Hill book that…… Read More

We continue to marvel at the nostalgia some -- such as certain members of the Texas State Board of Education -- seem to have for the Confederacy of the American Civil War. This is 2010, after all. Isn't it about time to let go of the misguided notion of the  "Lost Cause"? This nostalgia, after all, is the product of a political perspective that sees southern history in some glorified way that grossly distorts reality. For example, in new social studies curriculum standards adopted in May, the Texas state board deliberately downplayed the central role that slavery played in causing the Civil War. The new standards also require students to study the ideas in Confederate President Jefferson Davis' inaugural address. That address is full of excuses for southern secession but includes not one word about slavery despite the abundance of historical evidence showing that the bitter divide over slavery led to secession and war. State board member David Bradley, R-Beaumont Buna, even won approval for a standard requiring that Texas history students learn about the state's Confederate war heroes and Civil War battles. Now we see the conservative magazine Human Events is promoting what…… Read More

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