Lobbyist, Gay Republican Highlight Texas SBOE Races For Now

November 21, 2011

With all 15 State Board of Education (SBOE) seats on the ballot next year, there will be a lot of talk about the SBOE, particularly by the liberal media and the extreme liberal group Texas Freedom Network, known for regularly losing battles at the SBOE.  Through the election season, we can certainly count on both the media and TFN to continue their attempts to denigrate the board, particularly its conservative members.

Lobbyist, Moderate Republican Ratliff Faces Primary Challenge

There are two races that will likely get the most attention, in our opinion. First, the re-election bid of the only registered lobbyist on the SBOE, Thomas Ratliff, a moderate Republican will be closely watched and discussed.  Mr. Ratliff is still serving in his first term and has probably received more attention and drawn the most scrutiny of any other newly elected SBOE member because of his role as a paid lobbyist in Texas, for clients such as Microsoft.  Thomas Ratliff’s role as a lobbyist resulted in the Texas Attorney General researching the matter and concluding that a registered lobbyist who is paid to lobby on matters relating to SBOE business is, by law, ineligible to serve on the SBOE.  The lobbyist issue came up immediately in Mr. Ratliff’s first round of meetings serving on the SBOE in 2011, when he chose to recuse himself from an SBOE meeting to avoid a conflict of interest.

Mr. Ratliff is being challenged in the Republican primary by Randy Stevenson, a former SBOE member himself.  Mr. Ratliff proudly professes to be a moderate Republican. Mr. Ratliff achieved a narrow primary victory in 2010 over the conservative leader, Don McLeroy, by a mere 402 votes, out of 116,000.

Republican Incumbent Clayton Announces He’s Gay, Challenger is SBOE Veteran

Second, George Clayton’s effort for re-election is sure to draw a lot of attention as he tries to hang on to the seat he won in 2010 from longtime SBOE member Geraldine “Tincy” Miller.  Mrs. Miller had served on the SBOE for over 25 years prior to her narrow defeat by Mr. Clayton in the 2010 Republican primary, by a 52% – 48% margin.  Mr. Clayton was considered a relative unknown compared to Ms. Miller.  Ms. Miller is now the challenger and appears very determined to win back this seat.  We have received numerous reports from our grassroots friends in the Dallas area that confirm that Ms. Miller is working very hard to secure support.

Now that Mr. Clayton has served nearly two years on the SBOE and has come out as gay (Mr. Clayton revealed recently that he in fact has a “male partner that lives with me”), voters may have a better idea of where he stands on important issues.  Mr. Clayton revealing this information now about his sexual orientation is expected to draw a lot of attention to this Republican primary race with sex education curriculum on the SBOE’s agenda for next year.

Moderate Republican Craig Vacates His Seat, Endorses Carlise

Other races of interest are the seat vacated by longtime moderate Republican, Bob Craig.  Mr. Craig was a holdout on numerous key votes on the Science and Social Studies standards, often losing his initial efforts to defeat conservatives and then working compromises and changing his vote to side with conservatives when the outcomes were inevitable.  Mr. Craig and fellow moderate Thomas Ratliff have already endorsed their preference for his seat, Anette Carlisle, an Amarillo I.S.D. school board member. Mrs. Carlisle has been described as looking to continue Craig’s more moderate approach.

Republican Farney Seeks House Seat, SBOE Seat Trends Solid Red

Dr. Marsha Farney, still serving in her first SBOE term, has also announced that she will not run again.  Dr. Farney considers herself a “common sense conservative,” but the media often labels her a “moderate Republican.”  This open seat is also sure to attract some attention, but in 2010 Dr. Farney, running as a conservative, handed her liberal Democrat opponent a huge defeat, by a 56% – 40% margin in a district that included a large portion of the City of Austin and Travis County.

The Rest: Mercer, Cargill Expected to Hold, Democrat Berlanga Leaves Seat Up for Grabs

Conservative leaders, Ken Mercer and SBOE Chair Barbara Cargill, have also reportedly drawn primary challengers but are expected to hold their seats. Mr. Mercer secured victory by an enormous margin in 2010 (69% – 31%), when he was challenged by well-funded lobbyist, Tim Tuggey, in the 2010 Republican primary and Mercer soundly defeated liberal Democrat Rebecca Bell-Metereau (59% – 36%) in the general election, in a district that included South Austin and Travis County.

Mary Helen Berlanga, a longtime Democrat SBOE member from Corpus Christi will also not seek reelection.  She’s just a Democrat though, as it seems the media does not typically use qualifiers or other modifiers like “liberal” or “left wing” when they describe Democrat SBOE members, even though you’ll see the media use numerous words to describe the type of Republicans on the SBOE.  But for Democrats, they are just Democrats.  So are we to conclude that all of the Democrats on the SBOE are liberal and left-wing?  Something to think about.  It is safe to say that Ms. Berlanga could be considered one of the most liberal members of the SBOE, as she fought time and again to have Dolores Huerta, an avowed Socialist, included in our Social Studies standards as a model for good citizenship for students, twice.  That’s right, the fight was not over Dolores Huerta being including in the Texas History standards at all.  She was.  No, Ms. Berlanga would not be satisfied unless the Socialist was covered twice.  She lost this battle and many others, thankfully.

Conservative Republican Charile Garza, from the greater El Paso area is expected to have a fight on his hands to keep his seat as the new map approved as a result of redistricting points towards less conservative support, based on the opinion of many.  Garza, a long-time educator and decorated military veteran, pulled off a shocking victory in 2010, over 20-year SBOE member, Democrat Rene Nunez.

Liberal Democrat Michael Soto is also seeking election to a second term.  Now that his affiliations to far left groups like Texas Freedom Network and Americans United for Separation of Church and State are more well known, it will be interesting to see if he has a closer race this time around.

Liberty Institute will once again have a Voters Guide with the SBOE candidates’ responses to our questionnaire, available in early February of 2012.

It should be an interesting time for the SBOE heading into election season.


Texas Social Studies Standards Released! What’s in Texas Social Studies Standards? Read the Texas Social Studies Standards Here

June 28, 2010

THE ACTUAL TEXT OF THE TEXAS SOCIAL STUDIES STANDARDS ARE NOW AVAILABLE!!   They were released Friday, June 25th.  Every one has been wanting to see the actual words/language themselves, so here it is!

Here are the direct links to the text of the standards as posted online by TEA:

Kindergarten through Grade 5

Grade 6 through Grade 8

High School

Liberty Institute, which worked heavily on this issue and was represented at each SBOE meeting on the topic, issued the following statement:

“Anyone who actually reads the standards will see accurate, common sense content that Texas has adopted,” said Jonathan Saenz, director of legislative affairs for Liberty Institute.  “Our students now have new tools to lead Texas and our state in the 21st century.”

“People want our students to learn about the founding principles that make this country great,” said Kelly Shackelford, president/CEO of Liberty Institute.  “Students under these standards will actually be reading and discussing our founding documents and will be way ahead of other students across the country.”

The SBOE adopted numerous recommendations by professors, teachers, and experts (religious freedom language is one example).  However, the SBOE rejected other recommendations made by some professors and/or teachers, such as completely removing Christmas, Rosh Hashanah, Neil Armstrong, Albert Einstein, George Patton, the Liberty Bell, Mother Teresa, and Jonas Salk.  The SBOE also rejected efforts by some teachers and/or professors to reduce the teaching on Independence Day and Veterans Day.

The final standards also include religious freedom language that allows students to study the actual words of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and compare and contrast those words with the phrase “separation of church and state.”  This language was adopted by an 11-3 bipartisan vote.  This language is even supported by a moderate Republican, Bob Craig (who sponsored and proposed this final langauge), and supported by Democrat, Lawrence Allen, and all other Republicans-Don McLeroy, Terri Leo, David Bradley, Cynthia Dunbar, Tincy Miller, Pat Hardy, Gail Lowe, Barbara Cargill, and Ken Mercer.  Mavis Knight had historically inaccurate language on this issue, which was rejected. 

Notable Content of Texas Social Standards:

  • Tejano leaders: Juan N. Seguin, Lorenzo de Zavala, and Jose Antonio Navarro, and specific Tejanos who died at the Alamo-Juan Antonio Badillo and Carlos Espalier
  • Contributions of Founding Fathers: John Hancock, John Jay, John Witherspoon, others.
  • Thomas Jefferson: five specific references, Declaration of Independence referenced throughout.
  • Concepts: American Exceptionalism, Celebrate Freedom Week
  • Capitalism: referenced numerous times.
  • Religious Heritage: impact of religion and Judeo-Christian legal tradition on America.
  • Religious Diversity: Student will learn about Sikhism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Confucianism, and Christianity.
  • · Landmark U.S. Supreme Court cases: Brown v. Bd of Education, Sweat v. Painter, Hernandez v. Texas, Roe v. Wade, Tinker v. Des Moines, Miranda v. Arizona.
  • · Notable/Cultural Leaders Covered: Barack Obama, Cesar Chavez, Sonia Sotomayor, Hillary Clinton, Dolores Huerta, Lorenzo de Zavala, James A. Baker III, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sam Walton, Ronald Reagan, Thurgood Marshall, Martin Luther King, Jr., W.E. B. Dubois, Irma Rangel, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, Harriet Tubman, Todd Beamer, Roy Benavidez, John Olivas, Henry B. Gonzalez, Hector P. Garcia, Carmen Loma Garza, Vernon J. Baker, Raul A. Gonzalez, Jr., George Washington Carver, others
  • Groups: LULAC, NAACP, NRA, Moral Majority, Heritage Foundation.

www.juststatethefacts.com

Some are making outrageous statements about the new Texas Social Studies standards. It’s obvious, they either have not read the new standards, or they are intentionally misleading the public.

They claim Thomas Jefferson is not in the standards.

The fact is that Thomas Jefferson is in the Texas Social Studies standards numerous times, including:

  • In Grade 5: “Founding Father and Patriot her(o)…Thomas Jefferson..”.
  • In Grade 8: for “significant individuals that played a role in the American Revolution…..Thomas Jefferson…”
  • In U.S. Government (twice) “the contributions of the political philosophies of the Founding Fathers, including…Thomas Jefferson…”.
  • In World History: Students must “explain the political philosophies of individuals such as…Thomas Jefferson…
  • Moreover, the Declaration of Independence, which Thomas Jefferson authored, is referenced at least 25 times throughout the K-12 Social Studies standards.

They claim religious freedom is watered down in the standards.

The fact is religious freedom is taught using language from the First Amendment of the Constitution, the direct source of Religious Freedom language

In U.S. Government: “Examine the reasons the Founding Fathers protected religious freedom in America and guaranteed it free exercise by saying that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof and compare and contrast this to the phrase “separation of church and state.”

This standard was proposed by moderate Republican Bob Craig.  This social studies standard was approved by a bipartisan, 11-3 vote.

Religion has very diverse coverage: in Texas social studies, students will learn about Confuscianism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Judaism and Christianity.

They claim The State Board of Education members have no teaching experience.

The fact is numerous members of the State Board of Education have teaching experience. Click here for official bios of the SBOE members. www.tea.state.tx.us/index4.aspx?id=3803

They claim that teachers and professors were kept out of the process.

The fact is the State Board of Education had five public hearings and heard hours of testimony from numerous professors and teachers and many of their suggestions are reflected in the standards. Furthermore, many of the changes suggested by a select group of appointed teachers to a review panel were adopted.

They claim that that the term slavery was taken out of the standards.

The fact is slavery is in the standards.

For the correct context of this misleading information, one section of the standards, before it was changed on Thursday, said this:

“explain reasons for the development of the plantation system, the Atlantic triangular growth of the slave trade, and the spread of slavery; and…”  There were no official objections to this language, by Republicans or Democrats, in January when the initial change was made.

Then, last week, the State Board of Education voted 15-0 to change the phrase “Atlantic Triangular Trade” to “Transatlantic Slave Trade”.

Slavery is covered numerous other times throughout the K-12 course.

They claim there are no references to capitalism.

The fact is capitalism is in every grade of social studies standards starting at grade 2.

“Students identify the role of the U.S. free enterprise system within the parameters of this course and understand that this system may also be referenced as capitalism or the free market system.”

They claim that minorities and women have been diminished or “whitewashed”.

The fact is the following minorities, women, cases and groups are covered by the social studies standards:

Cesar Chavez (2 references), Dolores Huerta, Thurgood Marshall, Martin Luther King (5 references), Jr, Sonia Sotomayor, Barack H. Obama, Sandra Day O’Connor, Wallace Jefferson, Rosa Parks (2 references), Susan B. Anthony, Lorenzo de Zavala, Booker T. Washington, Henry B. Gonzalez (2 references), Hector P. Garcia (3 refences), Raul A. Gonzalez, Jr.(2 references), Jose Antonio Navarro, Francisco Ruiz, Hillary Clinton, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, W.E. B. Dubois, Irma Rangel, Oprah Winfrey, Ellen Ochoa, Harriet Tubman, Roy Benavides, John”Danny” Olivas, Carmen Loma Garza, Vernon J. Baker, Carlos Espalier, George Washington Carver, Crispus Attucks, Wentworth Cheswell, Placido Benavides, William Carney, Philip Bazaar, Enrique Esparza, Bessie Coleman, Lydia Mendoza, Phillis Wheatley, Lulu Belle Madison White, Amado Pena Jr., Scott Joplin, Marcus Garvey, Kadir Nelson, Juan Seguin, Carmen Lomas Garza, Juan Antonio Badillo, Jane Addams, Abigail Adams, many others.

Landmark cases covered:

Brown v. Bd of Education, Sweat v. Painter, Hernandez v. Texas, Edgewood I.S.D. v. Kirby, Mendez v. Westminster, Roe v. Wade

Tejano leaders:

Juan N. Seguin, Lorenzo de Zavala, and Jose Antonio Navarro are covered, including the significant contributions of Tejanos such as Juan N. Seguín, Plácido Benavides, and Jose Francisco Ruiz during the time period of the Texas Revolution, The Republic of Texas, and the annexation of Texas to the United States. Standards also include the following Tejanos who died at the Alamo, Juan Antonio Badillo and Carlos Espalier.

Groups: LULAC, NAACP.

They claim the standards include “positive references” to the Moral Majority, the National Rifle Association and the Contract with America.

The fact is, Moral Majority, the National Rifle Association and the Contract with America are simply listed as examples for this high school section:

“describe the causes, key organizations, and individuals of the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s, including….”

This section does not make a “positive” or a negative reference to these organizations, it simply lists them as being a part of “conservative resurgence”.


Texas RPT,SREC Passes Science Resolution: Rejects Censorship, Supports Rigorous Science Strengths and Weaknesses Language

March 10, 2009
The State Republican Executive Committee, which has 62 elected members and acts as the governing board for the Republican Party of Texas has passed the following resolution which supports the 20 year standard of teaching the “strengths and weaknesses” of scientific theories.
srec-2009-sboe-resolution
There were three Republican State Board of Education members, Pat Hardy, Bob Craig, and Tincy Miller, who voted, in January, to strip out the “strengths and weaknesses” language at the urging of extreme liberal groups like Texas Freedom Network, a group founded by Cecile Richards, who is now the head of Planned Parenthood and is the former Chief of Staff for Nancy Pelosi.
If you are a scientist, a science teacher, science professor or school adminstrator or board member and you support the “strengths and weaknesses” langauge, we need to hear from you so we can help you testify before the State Board of Education at their final hearing and vote on this issue on March 25th.  Contact us at 512-478-2220 or legislative@freemarket.org

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