In the 1990s, San Antonio businessman James Leininger — the religious right’s sugar daddy in Texas — poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into State Board of Education (SBOE) races. That money helped hard-right social conservatives build a multi-year campaign to take control of the board — and turned subsequent board debates over textbooks and curriculum standards into divisive “culture war” battles that put politics ahead of education. But new campaign finance reports — which cover contributions and expenditures for January 1-April 19 — to the Texas Ethics Commission show that far less money is flowing (so far) into most election contests for all 15 SBOE seats this year. Moreover, Leininger hasn’t contributed any money (so far) to candidates in those races.

In the District 12 Republican primary, Geraldine “Tincy” Miller, R-Dallas, is spending a lot of her own money to win back her old state board seat, which she lost to George Clayton, R-Richardson, in 2010. Miller’s spending tops that of all SBOE candidates, by far. She reported nearly $93,000 in campaign expenditures over the first four months of this year. That’s in addition to the $41,000 she spent in the last six months of… Read More

We got an email today from Texas State Board of Education candidate David Williams, a San Antonio Republican whose controversial Facebook post we reported about last week. We wrote that Williams had posted on the Facebook page of the Family Research Council — a group whose anti-gay rhetoric is so incendiary that the Southern Poverty Law Center has identified it as a hate group — that he was proud the student council at his son’s school rejected a request to form a club (apparently a Gay-Straight Alliance) supporting gay students. Williams defended his post in his email to TFN today:

Hello, I was alerted to a post on your site commenting that I was anti-gay and wanted to make sure the complete story is made available to your constituents. The GSA was voted down by students in order to be fair to ex-gays that found change is possible. Students were presented the several scientific views on the origins of same sex attraction and did not think a GSA to support one view only was needed. I pray you enjoy(ed) a blessed Resurrection Sunday.

Williams then provided a link to an article onRead More

At least one candidate for the Texas State Board of Education seems to think that his anti-gay views are relevant to his election campaign and managing public schools. A TFN Insider reader alerted us to the following Facebook post by David Williams, a candidate for the District 3 seat on state board. His post is on the Family Research Council’s Facebook page:

“Thank you for your support for the traditional family. In 2006 through prayer and community action a gay student club was voted down by the student government at my son’s school. The Lord has given me a new mission, to run for the Texas State Board of Education. Please pray for me and thank you for being a voice up there for those of us out here.”

A reader noted his surprise by how delighted Williams is that gay students at his son’s school wouldn’t be able to form a club. Williams’ response:

“Students were given all the science facts about the origins of same sex attraction and also introduced to ex-gays who verify that change is possible. A need for a student group that promotes same sex relationships became a mute… 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). Click here to go to TFN’s SBOE Election HQ, with in-depth information about state board districts, elections and candidates this year. David Williams, District 3, R-San Antonio (Current District 3 Board Member: Michael Soto, D-San Antonio) David Williams, an algebra teacher at a private school in San Antonio, has announced he will run for the District 3 SBOE seat currently held by Michael Soto. Williams' website is davidwilliamsdistrict3.com. David had the privilege of receiving certification and teaching Starbase Oklahoma, an aerospace education course sponsored by the Oklahoma Air National Guard for 7 years. He also worked three summers as an educator portfolio assessor for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. He coached the Southwest Oklahoma Math Counts All Star Team in 2007. Before starting his career in education, David served four years in the United States Navy as a hospital corpsman and aviation medical technician, two of his assignments serving marines. An eighteen-year career in the United States Army followed, attaining the rank of Chief Warrant Officer Three. Tours of duty included infantry, armor, artillery, and maintenance battalions. He is a Persian Gulf War veteran. He is a lifetime member of Disabled American Veterans (DAV) and served as a mentor for the national Troops to Teachers program for eight years while teaching. In 1993 while still on active duty David taught four, eight-week sessions of a moral development course at the military correctional facility on Fort Sill, Oklahoma. In 1994 he taught automotive maintenance for Central Texas College at Camp Casey, Korea for the fall semester. David’s interest in education has been a life priority for many years, regularly volunteering to teach in the local church as the family grew. He has been a deacon, nursery worker, and Bible teacher for elementary children, middle, high school, collegiate, and adult classes. David is a small group leader for Focus on the Family's, The Truth Project. Since returning to Texas he and Deborah have attended Cornerstone Church in San Antonio. Read More

Texas Freedom Network

The Tx State Board of Education will soon decide what is — and isn't — taught about #SexEducation. That's why we're partnering with comedian Owen Egerton for TFN Presents: The Best of Sex Ed, Sept. 23 @ Alamo Drafthouse-Mueller in Austin. Tickets + info: bit.ly/30fxG0x pic.twitter.com/HNZj…