A Republican candidate for the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) who fathered a child at age 16 says public schools should be allowed to display the Ten Commandments but shouldn’t teach about birth control in sex education classes.
Eric Mahroum, 31, is challenging incumbent Pat Hardy in Tuesday’s Republican runoff for the District 11 seat on the SBOE. Both are from Fort Worth. The board decides what the state’s public schools will teach 5 million Texas children and adopts textbooks for those schools.
Public radio station KERA in Dallas says one of Mahroum’s two children is home-schooled. From the KERA story:
Mahroum told the Republicans gathered in Arlington he favors allowing schools to arm educators so they can be a first line of defense in the event of school violence.
He stresses his Roman Catholic faith, and believes schools should be able to display the Ten Commandments.
“I’m for that realizing not every child is going to have a Christian background but our country as a whole, we stem from the Judeo Christian values,” said Mahroum.
Dan Quinn of the Texas Freedom Network, which monitors state board decisions, says this election comes as the board prepares to adopt standards that will determine how much students are taught about contraception and whether it’s included in textbooks.
“Right now the standards require that students learn about condoms and other forms of birth control but the health text books in classrooms right now are almost entirely abstinence-only, not a shred of information about condoms or contraception,” said Quinn.
“And that’s alarming in a state with one of the highest teen birth rates in the nation,” he said.
Mahroum, who fathered a child at 16, tells KERA he opposes teaching about contraception. He says the topic should be handled at home.
Hardy says “knowledge is power.” She says contraception should be taught, with local districts deciding how that should be done.
Mahroum is an operations manager for a concessions company. He has been endorsed by Don McLeroy, the creationist former chairman of the SBOE who lost his re-election bid in 2010. Anti-evolution board members David Bradley, R-
Beaumont Buna, and Ken Mercer, R-San Antonio, have also endorsed Mahroum. A number of Tea Party activists are backing Mahroum’s campaign as well. Click here for his campaign website.
Hardy first won election to the SBOE in 2002. She is a longtime social studies educator and works for the Weatherford Independent School District. Her campaign website lists endorsements from many of her Republican colleagues on the SBOE, including the creationist current chairwoman, Barbara Cargill. Click here for her campaign website.