Last night’s State Board of Education elections marked another big step toward an end to the culture wars in Texas public school classrooms. With the defeat of incumbent Charlie Garza, R-El Paso, the state board’s faction of far-right ideologues should be smaller next year than at any time since before the 2006 elections.

Zooming out a bit, here’s the big picture that emerged from this year’s elections:

Garza lost to challenger Martha Dominguez, D-El Paso, after just two years on the state board. Educator Sue Melton of Waco defeated longtime incumbent Gail Lowe — a leading member of the board’s far-right faction and a former board chair — in the Republican primary this past spring. Longtime religious-right firebrand Terri Leo chose not to seek re-election after it became clear that she would face a very tough challenge in the GOP primary.

Add that to dramatic shifts on the board after the last election cycle in 2010:

Thomas Ratliff of Mount Pleasant knocked off former board chairman and arch-creationist Don McLeroy in the Republican primary. Cynthia Dunbar, one of the far right’s most divisive voices on the board, chose not to seek re-election that same year.

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