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

All Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) seats are up for election this year, but so far there’s not a lot of money flowing into those campaigns. Nearly all SBOE candidates have now filed their July 1, 2011-December 31, 2011, campaign finance reports with the Texas Ethics Commission.

Some non-surprises:… Read More

If history is any judge, next year’s Texas State Board of Education elections could get very nasty. The image at left (click to enlarge) comes from a campaign flyer supporting Randy Stevenson in his successful election race for the board in 1994:

“Homosexuality. Lesbian Adoption. Condom Usage. Do you want your children learning about this in school? The liberals on the State Board of Education do.”

Almost identical flyers supported other religious-right candidates the same year, with the names of candidates swapped out on each one.

Stevenson, a Tyler resident who left the board after the 1998 elections, is challenging board incumbent Thomas Ratliff of Mount Pleasant in the Republican primary in March of next year. Ratliff defeated religious-right board member Don McLeroy in the 2010 GOP primary.

The 1994 elections that first brought Stevenson to the board came as board members debated proposed new high school health textbooks. Religious-righters demanded that the board reject textbooks they said promoted contraception and homosexuality and included other information they found objectionable. They even called for removing line-drawings of self-exams for testicular and breast cancer (too suggestive) and for replacing a photo of a woman carrying a briefcase with one… Read 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). Randy Stevenson, District 9, R-Tyler (Current District 9 Board Member: Thomas Ratliff, R-Mt. Pleasant) Businessman and former SBOE member Randy Stevenson, R-Tyler, announced in mid-November that he would once again seek the District 9 seat currently held by Thomas Ratliff, R-Mt. Pleasant. Stevenson held the seat in the 1990s. His website is here. As a member of the SBOE in District 9, I will focus on three points. First, I am committed to improving the academic quality of our schools. A common-sense approach to education must prevail, as most parents realize the importance of foundational skills in reading, writing, math, and science. Such knowledge-based academic content will build the strong foundation for higher-level thinking skills that every child deserves. Our educational system must prepare Texas children for productive lives as adults, ready to face the academic and workplace challenges that are a part of life. Read More

Texas Rising

#SB9 is a truly horrible bill for voting rights. That's why @TFN signed on to the letter. Check out the @TXCivilRights thread below for the truly horrible details. #txlege twitter.com/TXCivilR…