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.

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Texas Higher Education Board Distances Itself from Attack Report on Texas Social Studies Standards

November 11, 2011

Not So Fast! Just days after a member of academia released a report criticizing isolated parts of the K-12 Texas Social Studies standards adopted last year, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board has set the record straight.  Extreme Austin liberal groups, like Texas Freedom Network, attempted to credit the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) with the report, but the THECB quickly dismissed such affiliation and credit for the report by sending a very sharply worded press release out of their own.

See the THECB release here.

Seems the THECB wanted to make it very clear that they had nothing to do with this report written by some member of academia?  What could it be about this report that has the THECB so concerned?

We’ll look into this more closely and get back to you with more details as there wasn’t much of a story here until the THECB smartly distanced themselves from this report.


Veterans Day Teaching in Texas Public Schools Protected by Texas State Board Of Education, Religious Liberty Prevails over Federal Gov’t in Houston

November 11, 2011

Veterans & Their Families Protected in Texas by Liberty Institute:  At Liberty Institute we were honored to win a huge religious liberty case in Houston at the VA Cemetery where “God” was being banned at military funerals, in additiona to other hostile attempts censor religious expression.  Details here http://www.libertyinstitute.org/

Teaching on Veterans Day Prevails in  Texas Public Schools!  During the Texas Social Studies & History standards battle in 2010, a misguided group of teachers recommended that Veterans Day be removed from some sections of K-12 social studies.  But they wanted to add more mentions of Mary Kay Ash and some liberal members wanted more mentions of avowed Socialist, Dolores Huerta.  This outrageous effort by some groups of teachers to remove Veterans Day from parts of our social studies standards ultimately failed, because our ELECTED State Board of Education members said NO to these changes.  Our conservative leadership by the State Board of Education members, led the way on this. Find out more at www.juststatethefacts.com

Friends, THANK YOU TO ALL OUR VETERANS TODAY!!

For our continuing work, at Liberty Institute, to protect Veterans Memorials, like the Mojave Desert Memorial & Cross and the Mt. Soledad Memorial and see www.donttearmedown.com

Also, see our State Board of Education video where we helped keep Veterans Day from being taken out of some sections of the K-12 social studies standards and some pictures from the Veterans’ Day Parade in Austin.

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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
JonathansaenzLIJonathan Saenz

 
SBOE member Craig reminding testifier that International Database curriculum is not on the approved list, eligible for a vote.#sboe #txlege
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Jonathan Saenz
JonathansaenzLIJonathan Saenz

 
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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Jonathan Saenz
JonathansaenzLIJonathan Saenz

 
ACLU basically says the SBOE will be sued (by them?) if they cross some magical line in adopting science materials. #txlege #sboe
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Jonathan Saenz
JonathansaenzLIJonathan Saenz

 
SBOE hearing turns from attack of creationism (that’s not even n materials), to evolutionists defending theory from criticism. Nice. #sboe
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Jonathan Saenz
JonathansaenzLIJonathan Saenz

 
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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Jonathan Saenz
JonathansaenzLIJonathan Saenz

 
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.


Will Science/Evolution Materials With Errors Be Used in TX Classrooms? Vote is Next Week

July 13, 2011

Next Thursday, the State Board of Education will have a public hearing and vote on science materials for Texas classrooms. You’ll recall that in 2009 that the SBOE voted almost unanimously (13-2) for science standards that teach critical thinking skills to students and allow them to analyze, evaluate and examine all sides of scientific theories, including evolution.  Now, the SBOE is tasked with approving classroom materials that are supposed to follow the standards approved in 2009.  Some in the science field have found inaccurate information contained in many of the classroom materials submitted to the SBOE.  There is also a continued effort to censor critical thinking and discussion in the classroom on scientific theories, including evolution.  Action Item:

1.       If you have a science background, come testify next Thursday at the hearing, to support critical thinking skills, to stop materials with errors, and prevent censorship in the classroom. Email us by Friday at the latest at legislative@libertyinstitute.org for more information.

2.       Call and/or email (http://www.tea.state.tx.us/index4.aspx?id=3803)  your Texas State Board of Education member and tell he/she you support critical thinking and examining all sides of scientific theories, including evolution and you don’t want inaccurate science information taught in Texas.


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