Opposition to Senate confirmation for Don McLeroy as chairman of the Texas State Board of Education appears to be hardening. Yesterday, Sen. Eliot Shapleigh, D-El Paso, and Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, grilled McLeroy during a grueling hearing that lasted more than two hours. Both senators deserve hearty thanks from parents and other supporters of strong public schools for their efforts to expose the extremism that has turned the state board into a dysfunctional, deeply politicized mess. According to the Houston Chronicle, Senate Nominations Committee chairman Mike Jackson, R-La Porte, thinks it could be difficult to get the necessary 21 votes (of 31 senators) for confirming McLeroy. Says Jackson:…… Read More

From political reporter Kate Alexander’s post at the Austin American-Statesman’s blog, following today’s grilling of Don McLeroy, whom Gov. Rick Perry has renominated as chairman of the Texas State Board of Education:

(Senate Nominations Committee) Chairman Mike Jackson, R-La Porte, said McLeroy’s nomination is on shaky ground because he might not be able to get the required two-thirds vote from the Senate.

Democratic senators Kirk Watson of Austin and Eliot Shapleigh of El Paso challenged McLeroy over his leadership during a number of controversial Board of Education decisions, including the recent adoption of new science curriculum standards that critics say undermine the teaching of evolution.

Shapleigh said he plans to have McLeroy separated from the others when his nomination comes up on the Senate floor so that it could be debated and voted on individually.

Read the full post here. Here’s coverage from KVUE (Austin). Check out TFN Insider’s live blogging from the confirmation hearing here.… Read More

The Senate Nominations Committee is considering Don McLeroy's appointment as chairman of the Texas State Board of Education. Gov. Rick Perry appointed McLeroy as chairman in July 2007, after the last legislative session. The Senate now has the chance to confirm or reject McLeroy's appointment. 4:55 - Dr. McLeroy, a Bryan dentist, is now before the Senate Nominations Committee. The committee will ask him questions about his role as Texas State Board of Education chairman and then take testimony from others wanting to speak out his appointment. 5:01 - Dr. McLeroy is defending the state board's role in the curriculum and textbook adoption process. The Legislature is considering a slew of bills -- including Senate Bill 2275 -- that would strip the board of that authority. Dr. McLeroy argues that the state board has ensured that Texas has better curriculum standards. 5:05 - "We have much better textbooks because of the process of going through the State Board of Education." Really, Dr. McLeroy? Will we have better science textbooks if they teach junk science because you reject evolution and want publishers to do the same? 5:07 - Dr. McLeroy calls the science curriculum revision…… Read More

The Senate Nominations Committee considers the appointment of Don McLeroy as chairman of the Texas State Board of Education today, probably late this afternoon or early evening. Here are some questions we would love to see members of the committee ask Chairman McLeroy.

1. Please explain why you think, as you have been quoted saying, “scientific consensus means nothing.”

2. You have been quoted saying, “I disagree with all these experts. Somebody has to stand up to these experts.” Do you think you understand science better than scientists? Better than the Nobel laureates who addressed their concerns about the board’s action?

3. Earlier this year, you endorsed a new book,  Sowing Atheism: The National Academy of Sciences’ Sinister Scheme to Teach Our Children They’re Descended from Reptiles, by Robert Bowie Johnson, Jr. Do you agree, as the book’s author argues, that all scientists are atheists, parents who want to teach their children about evolution are monsters and clergy who believe there is no conflict between faith and science are morons?

4. During the recent adoption of new science curriculum standards, why did you refuse to allow science experts to review and advise the… Read More

Don McLeroy’s appointment as chairman of the Texas State Board of Education finally gets a hearing in the Senate Nominations Committee on Wednesday (April 22). Gov. Rick Perry appointed McLeroy chairman in July 2007, after the last legislative session. So the Senate still has to confirm his appointment.

It’s unusual for the Senate to reject a governor’s appointment. Even so, state lawmakers aren’t happy with a state board that has become increasingly dysfunctional (and embarrassing) since the Bryan dentist’s elevation to chairman. The board has disregarded established procedures, ignored state law, defied the Legislature and lurched from one “culture war” battle to the next. Most recently, of course, Chairman McLeroy led the board in opening the state’s science curriculum to creationist attacks on evolution, wildly declaring: “I disagree with all these experts! Somebody has to stand up to these experts!”

The Nominations Committee will meet 30 minutes after the Senate adjourns for the day on Wednesday. The hearing, which will include testimony on other nominations as well, will be in the Senate chamber at the Capitol. Those who want to testify can register at the… Read More