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

Because of redistricting, all 15 seats on the Texas State Board of Education will be up for grabs in the November 2012 elections. The results of those elections will determine whether the religious right’s corrosive influence over public education will weaken or grow as the board considers what the next generation of public school students in Texas will learn about sex education, social studies, science and other subjects. We plan to publish on TFN Insider candidate announcements for a seat on the SBOE. We will publish announcements in no particular order, and their publication does not constitute any sort of endorsement by TFN. We will redact requests for contributions or mentions of fundraising events from the announcements, but we will provide links to the candidates’ websites (if available). Michael Soto, District 3, D-San Antonio (Incumbent) Trinity University faculty member Michael Soto on Oct. 19 announced on his website — michael-soto.org — he intends to seek reelection to the SBOE's District 3 seat. Soto was first elected in 2010 to what was an open seat on the board. Dear Friends, It's that time once again—no, it's not my birthday, and it's not yet Halloween. It's time again to ask you to stand with me in my bid for reelection to the State Board of Education in 2012. I'm proud of what we've accomplished since I took office in January: New science instructional materials based on sound scholarship, not on petty and divisive politics. Small but important steps toward academic rigor in SBOE rules. A renewed focus on student success and wise investment in public education. But sitting on the State Board, I recognize that there is much more work to be done. Together, we must: Demand academic rigor and rely on evidence-based scholarship as we revise math, fine arts, and health education standards. Listen to teachers and public school administrators—our front-line educators--when it's time to adopt new curriculum standards and new textbooks. Restore public trust in how the SBOE conducts its business. Read More

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