Thomas Ratliff’s defeat of creationist Don McLeroy in the 2010 Republican Primary for the District 9 seat on the State Board of Education was an important step toward getting politics out of Texas public school classrooms. Now Ratliff, who currently serves as the state board’s vice chairman, has released a blistering critique of state Sen. Dan Patrick’s comments at a Capitol press conference today regarding the CSCOPE curriculum management system. As we noted earlier, Patrick announced this morning that CSCOPE would no longer be providing lesson plans for school districts. That decision by CSCOPE’s developers at the state’s Education Service Centers came after months of intense pressure and political attacks from Patrick as well as other legislators and Tea party and other right-wing activists.

In a release headlined “Double Standards and Slippery Slopes for Texas Schools,” Ratliff tore into state Patrick’s comments at the presser. Following is Ratliff’s full press release. It is definitely worth the read.

I watched Senator Patrick’s press conference about CSCOPE with equal parts sadness, anger and confusion.  How did it come to this?  The answer is simple…..politics.

At the press conference Senator Patrick said, “I think this is the best move… Read More

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

Right-wing activists are angry with a couple of Republican members of the State Board of Education who have refused to hop on their crazy train. The source of their anger (right now, anyway) is CSCOPE, the curriculum management tool that we reported about last month. CSCOPE is a product of a collaboration of regional Education Service Centers created by the state in the 1960s. Many Texas school districts use CSCOPE. Some teachers have found it very helpful, while others don’t like it for a variety of pedagogical reasons. But during a state board committee hearing on November 15, right-wing political activists attacked the program for supposedly promoting Marxism and radical Islam while trying to undermine America and Christianity. One speaker even compared CSCOPE to Nazi Germany.

Some board members — not surprisingly, considering the board’s recent history as a “culture war” battleground — encouraged and even fed off of those outrageous attacks. Other board members, however, defended the program or at least tried to separate legitimate concerns from the hysterical political claims. For example, they insisted that CSCOPE developers do a better job making sure school districts understand that parents can review the curriculum… 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

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

Texas Freedom Network

@SIECUS @kmillertfn @TXCapTonight This campaign for medically accurate, comprehensive and inclusive #SexEducation will stretch into next year when the TX State Board of Education is scheduled to make a decision. Find the TFN and SEICUS recs and ways to get involved at: tfn.org/sex-ed #TeachTheTruth pic.twitter.com/eoMv…