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.

Catch Liberty Institute at the Texas Tribune Festival on Sunday debating the SBOE

September 23, 2011

Liberty Institute’s Director of Legislative Affairs, Jonathan Saenz will speak this weekend at the Texas Tribune Festival.  The Festival is a weekend of debate, discussion and dialogue regarding politics and public policy. It takes place Saturday and Sunday, September 24-25 at the University of Texas at Austin. Find out more or register here.

Jonathan Saenz frequently presents testimony in defense of conservative values before the Texas Legislature and the State Board of Education.  He will be taking part in the panel discussing:  “What Now for the State Board of Education?” The discussion promises to be lively because the panel also includes Kathy Miller of the liberal Texas Freedom Network, a group that targets people and elected officials for their religious beliefs (and usually loses policy votes too).  Former Chairman of the SBOE, Don McLeroy, and current SBOE member, Thomas Ratliff, will also be on the panel.

The panel discussion is Sunday, September 25 at 10:15 AM at the Student Activities Center Auditorium, 2201 Speedway, in Austin.

For a preview of the panel discussion, check out Jonathan sweeping the floor with Kathy Miller when debating the history standards on CNN last year.


Senator Dan Patrick and Rep. Sid Miller interviewed on Texas Legislative Session

September 12, 2011

As part of our continued coverage of the recently completed legislative session, we will be releasing a series of sit down interviews with key conservative legislators that had an impact on important issues during the session. Our 5th and 6th interviews are with Senator Dan Patrick and Representative Sid Miller.  Senator Patrick and Rep. Miller, authors of the Sonogram Bill in the Senate and House respectively, discuss the victory we had this session in passing the Sonogram Bill. Senator Patrick also discusses the key efforts to support and defend the State Board of Education.

New Legislation Goes Into Effect Today

September 1, 2011

Today, September 1, most of the new legislation passed in the recently completed legislation session goes into effect.

Highlights of the session include passage of  (1) the Sonogram bill, (2) Voter I.D. bill,  (3) Choose Life license plate bill; (4) the defunding of millions of taxpayer dollars from Planned Parenthood; (5) the protection of the elected State Board of Education, (6) the protection of citizens whose constitutional rights have been violated, (7) the defeat of attacks on marriage and efforts to expand gambling, and (8) the balancing of the 2012-2013 budget without raising taxes or using the rainy day fund.

Check out our Legislative Wrap-up video for a quick overview of the 82nd Legislative Session with insights from several key conservative legislators.

Rep. Wayne Christian Interview on SBOE, Abortion Funding

July 25, 2011

As part of our continued coverage of the recently completed legislative session, we will be releasing a series of sit down interviews we did with key conservative legislators that had an impact on important issues during the session. Our first interview is with Rep. Wayne Christian who is one of the leading conservative voices in the Texas House.  We talked with Rep. Christian about the State Board of Education and the successful efforts to protect the SBOE during the legislative session.  We also talked about the important battle to end taxpayer funding of abortion at some hospital districts in the state.


Victory at State Board of Education: Unanimous Vote to Require Changes to Errors related Evolution

July 22, 2011
Victory! SBOE unanimously votes to require changes to errors in science materials, related to evolution, before adoption.
Austin Liberals fail again.

Live Blogging State Bd of Ed Meeting; Science Censorship v. Evolution

July 21, 2011

Grade 5 science materials approved.  Grade 6 science materials approved.  Grade 7 science materials approved.  Grade 8 science materials approved.  High School: Chemisty publisher gets requirement to change errors before it can go into classroom

High School Physics: approves commissioners recommendations.

High School Integrated Physics and Chemistry: approved.

Now to … Biology:   Holt publisher, motion to correct the errors.  Adaptive Curriculum-Lowe wants error corrected with Haeckel’s embyro to be removed.

16 binders of errors for supplemental science materials submitted by publishers.

SBOE science testifier says Intelligent Design leads to “Christian Taliban.” Wow, real extremists here that bow at altar of evolution #sboe
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Jonathan Saenz
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SBOE member Craig reminding testifier that International Database curriculum is not on the approved list, eligible for a vote.#sboe #txlege
Jonathan Saenz
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ACLU is for censorship? Seems like it.SBOE member Clayton pins them down. ACLU hasn’t read TEKS. Bradley and Garza pile on. #txlege #sboe
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ACLU basically says the SBOE will be sued (by them?) if they cross some magical line in adopting science materials. #txlege #sboe
Jonathan Saenz
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SBOE hearing turns from attack of creationism (that’s not even n materials), to evolutionists defending theory from criticism. Nice. #sboe
Jonathan Saenz
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One after one, scientists testifying about their concern for the errors in the science materials submitted to the SBOE. #sboe #txlege
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Picture of 16 binders of errors found in science materials submitted to TX SBOE, to send to classroom.

This portion of meeting has not begun.  Check our facebook page (Liberty Institute – Texas) and twitter account (@JonathansaenzLI) for quicker updates.

Happy Independence Day!! SBOE Protects 4th of July Teaching, TX Legislative Session Wrap-up

July 4, 2011

Happy Independence Day!  We hope you have blessed and enjoyable 4th of July!  235 years of Independence.

God Bless America!

You’ll recall that it was the elected State Board of Education, led by conservatives that protected the teaching of the 4th of July last year, when others were attacking our national holiday.  There were efforts to teach less about Veterans Day and more.

Watch this video and be amazed and thankful we have an elected State Board of Education!

Also see our Tx Legislative Session Wrap-Up Video here from the Texas Capitol.

Gov. Perry Appoints New SBOE Chair, Cargill: Liberty Institute Applauds Pick

July 1, 2011

Click here to see Gov. Perry’s announcement. http://governor.state.tx.us/news/appointment/16340/

See Liberty Institute Statement here: LibertyInstituteStatementCargillChairAnnouncement

AUSTIN, Texas, July 1, 2011 – Today, Gov. Rick Perry announced his appointment of Barbara Cargill as the new State Board of Education (SBOE) chair. Ms. Cargill has served on the 15 member elected SBOE since her election by the people in November 2004, running as a Republican, and was reelected to her seat representing District 8 in 2008.  Ms. Cargill holds a Masters of Science in Science Education from Texas Women’s University and an undergraduate degree from Baylor University, and has worked in the field of science education for over 25 years having taught in two different school districts in the state of Texas.

Ms. Cargill was awarded the Thanks to Teachers National Excellence Award, the National Audubon Society Award, and the A.J. Sales Educational Award. She was a nominee for both the prestigious Presidential Award for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Teaching and the Science Teacher’s Association of Texas Outstanding Teacher award.

As chair, Ms. Cargill will lead the SBOE, currently comprised of 11 Republicans and four Democrats.

“We thank Gov. Perry for selecting a proven conservative and national award winning teacher in Barbara Cargill as the new chair of the State Board of Education,” said Kelly Shackelford, president/CEO for Liberty Institute. “During SBOE meetings, Ms. Cargill always treats her colleagues with grace and respect, while being fair and confident in her efforts to do what’s right for Texas schoolchildren.  She will make a fine chair for the State Board of Education for many years to come.”

“Ms. Cargill has stood strong against censorship of science teaching and attacks on the teaching of Independence Day, military leaders, and Christmas, while supporting history standards that ensure teaching about the U.S Constitution, our Founding Fathers, the religious heritage of our country and American Exceptionalism,” said Jonathan Saenz, director of legislative affairs at Liberty Institute. “We also express our appreciation to outgoing SBOE Chair, Gail Lowe, who served the SBOE well.  It is a shame that 12 Democrat Texas Senators blocked Ms. Lowe’s confirmation this session, while the other 19 of the 31 Texas Senators supported Ms. Lowe. “

Liberty Institute frequently attends and testifies at SBOE meetings, and has led numerous efforts to inform Texans about important curriculum and textbook related matters decided by the SBOE for many years.

Note:  Texas Education Agency website used for biographical information.

Texas Legislative Session Ends, Special Session Begins

May 31, 2011

The 82nd Texas Legislative Session ended yesterday.  Victories include the Sonogram bill, the Choose Life license plate bill, a conservative balanced budget (that didn’t raise taxes, doesn’t use the rainy day fund), and Voter I.D. And quickly thereafter, it was announced that the first called Special Session begins today.

Click here to see what bills have been filed in the House and the Senate for the special session.

We’ll continue our work on conservative social and fiscal issues during the special session as well.

Two items we’ll be covering for sure are budget issues related to defunding Planned Parenthood, no use of the rainy day fund and no new taxes, and education policy that respects the authority of the State Board of Education.

Elected TX State Board of Education Needs Your Help! Accountability Needed!

May 25, 2011

HB 6 , (Rep. Eissler/Sen. Shapiro) is a bill impacting the authority of the elected State Board of Education.  HB 6 is expected to go to conference committee  and good language needs support for the SBOE to have approval/removal power on all textbooks and materials and to have oversight of “open source” electronic materials that are pushed into public school classrooms with no oversight by TEA, by the Education Commissioner, or the elected SBOE.  There is currently no oversight of open-source instructional materials.  These materials are fast-tracked into our public school classroom if certain university faculty members “self-certify” these instructional materials, with no oversight by TEA, the Education Commissioner, or the elected SBOE.

The House version of HB 6 has a good SBOE amendment, restoring the SBOE’s authority to remove instructional materials on the “commissioner’s list”.  The Senate version doesn’t have this amendment as the Senate version only allows the elected SBOE to “review and comment” on commissioner’s list and the “open source list.” (Senate Democrats blocked stronger version of these amendments, so they were removed for HB 6 to move forward).  An amendment preventing national standards from infiltrating Texas also had to be removed.

In conference committee, we need the conference committee members to restore the elected SBOE having the power to approve/remove instructional materials and/or textbooks from the commissioner’s list and the “open source” list.

We support HB 6 going to conference committee and support including in HB 6 the following:

(1)  Elected SBOE authority to remove instructional materials from the commissioner’s list.

(2)  Elected SBOE authority to remove instructional “open source” materials and/or electronic textbooks.

(3)  Rejection of national curriculum standard being used in Texas schools.

There are only a few days left this Texas Legislative session!!

Remember, the elected SBOE saved the teaching of Christmas, the Liberty Bell, rejected propping up socialist as models for students, and defending the teaching of our Founding Fathers, the Constitution and American Exceptionalism for K-12.

Please spread the word!

Legislative Update Video: Important updates on SBOE, Pro-Life Legislation, and more

April 29, 2011

Liberty Institute’s weekly Legislative Update video, this week coming from the Old Supreme Court in the Texas Capitol.  Important updates on SB 1348 and our continued defense of the State Board of Education, the Sonogram and Choose Life License Plate Bills, and some of our important legal work.  Check back on the blog next week for continued updates on these important issues.

Protect the Texas State Board of Education From ACLU and Texas Freedom Network, Oppose SB 1348 on Senate Floor Today: Call Your Senator Now!

April 28, 2011

Texas State Board of Education in jeopardy. SB 1348, by Democrat Senator Leticia Van De Putte, is on the Senate Floor Calendar today and could be up for a vote. SB 1348 requires you to be a university faculty member and have a Ph.D. in education or a “terminal degree” to be on an expert review team regarding K-12 curriculum changes by the TX SBOE, like the History/Social Studies standards.

Who supports this bill – both the ACLU and the Texas Freedom Network.

The Texas Freedom Network wants to abolish the Texas SBOE and transfer its responsibilities to the unelected TEA, nullify the social studies standards passed in 2010, and is working against the conformation of Gail Lowe for Chair of the SBOE.

Please call your Texas Senator and ask them to oppose SB 1348. Click here to find your State Senator: http://capwiz.com/libertyinstitute/dbq/officials/. You can download our Texas Legislative Guide with all of Texas’ elected officials contact information at http://legislativeguide.libertyinstitute.org/. All Senators can be reached through the Capitol Switchboard at 512.463.4630

You’ll recall that the elected SBOE saved from elimination the following: Christmas, the Liberty Bell, Neil Armstrong, Albert Einstein, Jonas Salk and used their current operating procedures to ensure accurate teaching about religious freedom in the First Amendment of the Constitution. The elected SBOE also ensured that public school students would learn about the U.S. Constitution, our Founding Fathers, and the key concept of American Exceptionalism.

To get the facts on the History standards, visit http://juststatethefacts.com/

For some history on the issue, please watch this video:

Update: Protect The SBOE Calls Needed Today! Oppose SB 1348!

April 26, 2011

Update: Senate is now set to vote on a bill, SB 1348 that undermines authority of the SBOE.  Click here for more information on defeating SB 1348.  https://texaslegislativeupdate.wordpress.com/

2:00 p.m. Update:  We are now being told that this bill will not come up for a vote.  Thanks for stepping up!

“Protect the SBOE” Calls Needed Today!

Please call the members of the House Public Education Committee and ask them to oppose HB 3257, by Democrat State Representative, Mark Strama (D-Austin).  There is pressure to pass this bill out of committee as all other bills that strip away power and authority from the State Board of Education have not moved forward.  HB 3257 puts the Texas Legislature in the position of telling the elected SBOE members when and how the SBOE is allowed to make changes and corrections to the curriculum standards, such as Social Studies, after unelected review teams make their changes to the curriculum.

You’ll recall that the elected SBOE saved from elimination the following: Christmas, the Liberty Bell, Neil Armstrong, Albert Einstein, Jonas Salk and used their current operating procedures to ensure accurate teaching about religious freedom language in the First Amendment of the Constitution.  The elected SBOE has their own operating rules and their ability to decide the content of such operating rules should not be stripped by the Texas Legislature, in regards to amendments to curriculum standards or any other matter within their rules.

Chair: Rep. Rob Eissler (R-The Woodlands) 512-463-0797
Vice Chair: Rep. Scott Hochberg (D-Houston) 512-463-0492
Members: Rep. Alma Allen (D-Houston) 512-463-0744
  Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock (R-Killeen) 512-463-0684
  Rep. Harold V. Dutton, Jr. (D-Houston) 512-463-0510
  Rep. Ryan Guillen (D-Ri0 Grande City) 512-463-0416
  Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Kingwood) 512-463-0520
  Rep. Mark Shelton(R-Fort Worth)512-463-0608
  Rep. Todd Smith (R-Bedford) 512-463-0522
  Rep. Mark Strama (D-Austin-Bill Author) 512-463-0821
  Rep. Randy Weber (R-Pearland) 512-463-0707

“Moderate” Republican Supports Texas Social Studies/History Standards, Gail Lowe For SBOE Chair

March 30, 2011

In a special article today in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, State Board of Education Member, Pat Hardy writes in support of the texas social studies standards approved in May 2010 and in support of conservative Republican Gail Lowe being confirmed by the Texas Senate this session, i.e. before the end of May.

See the article here. http://www.star-telegram.com/2011/03/29/2959035/texas-senators-need-to-approve.html

I put the word moderate in quotes because the media often likes to describe Pat Hardy as a moderate even though I think you’ll find that Pat sees herself as a conservative and Pat is a strong supporter of the Texas Social Studies standards.  She also has over 40 years of experience in education, particularly in the subject of social studies.

Pat says this in her article: “Some activist groups, including one from Washington, D.C., don’t like our social studies standards. However, Lowe should be judged on her respect and fairness during meetings, not whether or not her votes match up with D.C.-based power players.

As an educator with 40 years’ experience as a social studies teacher and coordinator, I fully support the social studies standards adopted in May 2010 by the State Board of Education by a 9-5 vote.

To repeat a curriculum adoption process that lasted nearly 18 months would be a misuse of precious tax dollars and would thwart the will of the voters. Little, if any, changes in the actual content would result.

Perry appointed Lowe for a second term. There is no good reason why she should not be confirmed.”

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