Texas Freedom Network has just sent out the following Action Alert:

Time and again over the last three years, Chairman Don McLeroy and the far-right faction of the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) have demonstrated their willingness to push an extremist agenda and sacrifice quality public education at the altar of partisan politics. Yet unbelievably, Gov. Rick Perry has nominated McLeroy to a second term as chair.

The decision currently before the state Senate — to confirm or deny McLeroy’s appointment — is a clear referendum on the outrageous antics of the State Board of Education. If he is allowed to continue as chair, SBOE members will see a green light for continuing their damaging pattern of ignoring the law and disregarding experts and teachers.

This is our chance to send a strong message to the board that “enough is enough.”

What Can You Do? The Senate Nominations Committee has left SBOE Chairman Don McLeroy’s confirmation pending, and it’s important for EVERY SENATOR  to hear that McLeroy is the wrong choice to lead the State Board of Education. (Click here to find your Senator.)

Why Does It Matter? Religious-right pressure… Read More

That is the title of a new screed by SBOE Rep. Ken Mercer, R-San Antonio. According to Mercer, the Senate is blocking the nomination of Don McLeroy as board chair not because his tenure has been an unmitigated disaster, but because McLeroy is -- you guessed it -- a Christian. It is official; conservative Christians are unqualified and need not apply. It happened at the Miss USA Pageant and then at the Nominations Committee of the Texas State Senate. (First of all, Mercer deserves credit for coming up with the most apt comparison to date for the level of intellectual debate at the Texas SBOE -- a beauty pageant. The uninformed, vapid discourse at the board resembles nothing so much as a room full of beauty pageant contestants confidently asserting opinions on politics or world affairs. And both ellicit similar snickers and groans from the audience.) But on to Mercer's primary contention. Let's unpack this a bit. Mercer and other self-described social conservatives on the board have regularly and vigorously insisted that their actions are NOT religiously motivated. Mercer does it again here: As is obvious to all, there are zero references to faith, religion, creation, or intelligent design in the newly adopted Science…… Read More

At his Senate confirmation hearing on April 22, Texas State Board of Education Chairman Don McLeroy once again rejected the expertise of hundreds of scientists, including Nobel laureates, who called on the board not to dumb down the public school science curriculum on evolution last month. Chairman McLeroy insisted, however, that he has a second cousin (a graduate student, no less) who told him understanding evolution really isn’t that important. (You’ll hear McLeroy’s discussion of his cousin at about the 1:50 mark. McLeroy’s questioner, Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, wasn’t buying this nonsense, of course.)

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h110I7tPL84]

IMPORTANT: Do not assume that McLeroy’s confirmation in the Senate is dead. Political fortunes can shift from day to day, and that’s particularly true in the legislative process. We expect horse-trading on a variety of issues will intensify in this final month of the 2009 legislative session.

Here’s what you can do:… Read More

The Texas Senate Nominations Committee this evening approved all nominees considered at last week’s hearing — except for Don McLeroy as chairman of the State Board of Education. Far-right pressure groups have targeted Senate offices with calls and e-mails in support of McLeroy’s confirmation, but opponents in that chamber still appear to have the votes to reject it on the floor. As a result, committee Chairman Mike Jackson, R-La Porte, seems prepared to leave McLeroy’s confirmation pending for now. Without Senate confirmation, the nomination will be considered rejected at the end of the session on June 1.

UPDATE: As noted by one of our eagle-eyed readers, Austin American-Statesman reporter Kate Alexander had an update on McLeroy’s confirmation chances today:

The confirmation of State Board of Education Chairman Don McLeroy is dead in the water, Sen. Mike Jackson, R-La Porte, said Thursday.

Jackson, chairman of the Senate Nominations Committee, said McLeroy will be left pending in committee because there is enough opposition on the floor of the Senate to block his confirmation, which requires approval of two-thirds of the senators.… Read More

Is Gov. Rick Perry abandoning Don McLeroy? The Houston Chronicle’s R.G. Ratcliffe asked the governor today whether he’s worried that the Senate would reject his reappointment of the controversial Bryan dentist as chairman of the Texas State Board of Education. The governor hardly offered a ringing endorsement of the man he first appointed to the post in July 2007:

“I’ll leave that up to the Senate. They have lots of people go through. The Senate will work that out.”

Ratcliffe then asked if the governor has been contacting senators and urging them to confirm McLeroy’s nomination. Gov. Perry’s answer seems to indicate that he’s not:

“I have 1,500 different appointees a year. We appoint them. They go through the process. That’s the way it’s always worked.”

You can see Ratcliffe’s post, along with video of his interview with Gov. Perry, here.

It looks like the chances that McLeroy will win Senate confirmation are beginning to crumble. Well, if so, then what? The question will be whether the governor appoints a new chairman who puts the education of Texas children ahead of personal agendas and divisive politics.… Read More