Our report that Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) Chair Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, appeared to be interfering on Wednesday with the independent teams reviewing proposed new biology textbooks became a topic of discussion at a state board workshop session today.

As the session was about to end, SBOE member Marisa Perez, D-San Antonio, expressed her concerns about board members trying to influence the work of the review teams. She also asked for clarification on what Cargill had done and the board’s rules regarding members’ contact with the teams. Those were entirely reasonable concerns and good questions.

Cargill expressed surprise that anyone would suggest she was trying to influence the review teams. All she was doing, she said, was saying hello to the reviewers and thanking them for their service. She also invited anyone with concerns to ask her directly. So we’re taking her up on that invitation and are forwarding our questions and concerns. We will report back on what we hear.

But we think it’s important to correct some misinformation from today’s SBOE meeting. Contrary to what board members were told, the work of the review teams is not “open” to the public. Observers are directed to… Read More

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