Does Texas State Board of Education member Ken Mercer, a San Antonio Republican, think one of his fellow Republicans on the board “has no integrity”? Does he think his fellow Republican has “disdain for the law,” is ineligible to serve on the board, and is using his position to enrich his business clients? If he doesn’t believe those things, then he should repudiate — immediately and publicly — one of his supporters who has been leveling those charges.

Donna “Jeffery Dahmer Believed in Evolution” Garner, a right-wing gadfly from the Waco area, has been making those charges in emails supporting Mercer’s bid to be vice chair of the state board. Board members will elect a vice chair and a secretary at the first meeting of their new term on January 30. Garner’s emails urge right-wing activists to contact their board members to elect Mercer over Thomas Ratliff, a Mount Pleasant Republican who defeated arch-creationist Don McLeroy of College Station in the GOP primary in 2010.

The vice chair, secretary and chair Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, make up the state board’s executive committee. Those three officers will assign board members to the board’s standing committees: Instruction (dealing… Read More

Will we soon be hearing cries of betrayal from religious-righters who have been warning that Muslims are using charter schools to indoctrinate Texas kids?

Campaign finance reports filed with the Texas Ethics Commission show that David Bradley, a leader of the creationist faction on the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE), received three late contributions in May to his re-election campaign from people associated with charters schools that religious-right groups claim promote radical Islam.

The contributions, which totaled $3,700, came from the chief operating officer of Harmony Public Schools, a principal at one of the Harmony schools in the Houston area and a Houston board member for an organization said to be associated with a major financial backer of those charter schools.

Groups like Texas Eagle Forum have claimed that Harmony financial backer — a wealthy Turkish Muslim man  named Fethullah Gulen who lives in Pennsylvania — is using the charter schools to indoctrinate American students in Turkish and Muslim culture. Insisting that the so-called “Gulen movement” is a radical threat to America, they almost succeeded in holding up approval of a state budget in 2011 when some legislators promoted their arguments that “Gulen schools” (Harmony)… Read More

Donna “Jeffrey Dahmer Believed in Evolution” Garner’s fiery email exchange with Texas State Board of Education member George Clayton this week included a particularly interesting tidbit you might have missed. Garner suggested a variety of reasons for supporting Gail “Pilgrims Were Commies” Spurlock as Clayton’s replacement on the board. Among them, she said, is that Spurlock is “a successful business woman who has homeschooled her own children for some years.”

So Spurlock’s decision to abandon the very public school system she wants to manage for everyone else’s kids is a plus? Of course, a number of creationists on the state board over the last few years also homeschooled their children. One, former board member Cynthia Dunbar, even called public schools unconstitutional, “tyrannical” and a “subtly deceptive tool of perversion.” Does Spurlock agree with those sentiments too? Read More

Texas State Board of Education member George Clayton’s guns are blazing in a searing email exchange that makes it clear he plans to run for re-election as a write-in candidate this November. Clayton finished third in the May 29 Republican primary for the Dallas-area, District 12 seat. Former state board member Geraldine “Tincy” Miller and Gail Spurlock face each other in a July 31 runoff for the GOP nomination against Democrat Lois Parrott. But what’s really interesting in Clayton’s emails is his open contempt for right-wingers who have used his sexual orientation as a campaign tactic against him.

Last November Clayton acknowledged he is gay after he became aware of a whisper campaign among right-wing activists questioning his personal life. Donna “Jeffrey Dahmer Believed in Evolution” Garner, a right-wing gadfly and ally of the state board’s creationist faction, subsequently withdrew her earlier endorsement of Clayton. She warned that he couldn’t be trusted to help revise new health curriculum standards — standards that cover sex education — because he’s gay.

Yesterday Garner fired off an email to her list supporting Spurlock, one of nine state board candidates who got the highest “grades” in… Read More

Are we about to see a repeat of the hateful campaign tactics religious-righters used to win election to the Texas State Board of Education in the 1990s? Back then hundreds of thousands of dollars from San Antonio businessman James Leininger funded coordinated campaigns that claimed Democratic board incumbents supported the "radical homosexual agenda" and wanted to teach students about gay sex and "lesbian adoption." One especially incendiary and misleading campaign mailer used by multiple far-right candidates featured a photo of two shirtless men (one black, one white) kissing passionately. "Liberals" on the state board, the mailer charged, wanted students to have access to a "how-to guide on homosexuality and homosexual sex." Unfortunately, those tactics helped some far-right candidates win their races. Now we're seeing signs that the 2012 State Board of Education elections could feature the same kind of hateful political trash. Last week, in fact, a growing whisper campaign led Republican incumbent board member George Clayton of Richardson (in the Dallas area) to send out a press release acknowledging that he is gay. The release reads: "It has come to my attention that one of my opponents in my bid for reelection to the State Board of Education and certain member(s) of the Golden Corridor Republican Women's Club are questioning my sexual orientation. So as to avoid the tyranny of misinformation and innuendo in this political race, I wish to say that I, in fact, do have a male partner who lives with me in my home in Richardson, Texas. I hope this frank announcement satisfies Tincy Miller and the ladies associate with the Golden Corridor organization. All of us can now move on with discussions concerning education instead of being overly occupied with my personal life." Reporters have asked Geraldine "Tincy" Miller if she has played a role in the whisper campaign about Clayton's sexual orientation. The Dallas Republican says she hasn't. Clayton defeated Miller, a longtime state board incumbent, in the 2010 GOP primary, and she appears to be preparing a run to win back her seat next year. On the other hand, Golden Corridor Republican Women (GCRW), which includes members from Dallas, Denton and Collin counties, does seem to be part of the no-longer-a-whisper campaign. (GCRW's logo includes a flag, elephant and Christian cross set over an outline of Texas.) Clayton included with his press release a copy of what he said was a Nov. 1 email in which GCRW President Susan Fletcher reports on an interview with Miller. The interview focuses largely on "culture war" issues such as evolution, Sharia law and abstinence-only sex education. At the bottom of her email, however, Fletcher writes about questions she has for Clayton, including: "What are his living arrangements in Richardson? With whom does he live? It's not appropriate to comment further -- but this needs to be investigated." Read More

Texas Freedom Network

So when we do this again in two years, how about we: - create an online voter registration system - allow college students to use their student IDs to vote. And when we do this one, let's also ... - require polling locations on university campuses #txlege