Shining the Light on SBOE Races

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Texas State Board of Education elections rarely get much attention. But with the adoption of new science standards and textbooks next year, races involving some members of the far-right faction on the SBOE this year have garnered more interest than usual.

In recent days, a number of articles and op-eds have been published across Texas either endorsing the challengers of the extremist bloc on the SBOE or criticizing incumbents’ policies.

Two pieces published in Southeast Texas’ The Examiner, have questioned whether or not SBOE vice chairman David Bradley, R-BeaumontBuna, even lives in the district he represents.

David Bradley, a Beaumont insurance agent and real estate investor, was first elected to the State Board of Education (SBOE) in 1996. Since he stood for re-election in 2000, the issue of exactly where Bradley lives has been raised in every election cycle by the campaigns of his opponents.

The 2008 general election is no different, with Democratic nominee Laura Ewing openly questioning Republican Bradley’s eligibility to represent SBOE District 7, which includes Jefferson, Chambers and Galveston counties and parts of Brazoria and Harris counties.

The paper also asked whether Bradley’s really qualified to even serve on the board.

Does Bradley have some unique contribution to make to the educational process that justifies this shell game? Hardly. In fact, published reports suggest he has been part of a divisive faction on the board that has attempted to insert their far-right ideology into decisions from the mundane to the profound, to the detriment of the schools in our state. Don’t take our word for it, however. Just ask the members of the Texas Legislature from both parties who have been forced to act to rein in the excesses of the Bradley faction on the SBOE.

The Houston Chronicle went so far as to endorse Bradley’s opponent in the upcoming election.

Bradley, a Republican representing District 7, which includes parts of the Houston area, contends: “Evolution is not a fact. Evolution is a theory and, as such, cannot be proved. Students need to be able to jump to their own conclusions.”

Ewing, by contrast, says she believes in creationism but thinks it is best discussed in personal religious practice rather than in the classroom. The Chronicle couldn’t agree more.

Bradley isn’t the only SBOE incumbent getting attention. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram printed an opinion piece criticizing Gail Lowe, R-Lampasas, for her opposition to evolution (she’s a creationist) and for promoting a flawed and possibly lawsuit-inducing Bible curriculum offered by the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools. (Read TFN’s report on the NCBCPS curriculum here.)

Lowe was mocked for telling [Texas Monthly] that the National Academy of Sciences “has still stated that [evolution] is not a fact.” The academy, according to the magazine, describes evolution as both scientific theory and fact.

That was before Lowe wrote recent letters lobbying schools to add Bible classes and buy a curriculum promoted by sidekicks of evangelists Pat Robertson and the late Marlin Maddoux.

There are other SBOE races that — because the incumbent is either running unopposed or facing only a third-party challenger (or isn’t an extremist) — aren’t receiving as much media coverage.

But it is nice to see attention being paid to some of the most important races in Texas.

Who’s your SBOE member? Find out here.

2 Responses to “Shining the Light on SBOE Races”

  1. JohnC Says:

    How can I find out if the SBOE member that serves my district is up for election this year?

  2. TFN Says:

    John,

    You can find your representative’s term by visiting http://www.tea.state.tx.us/sboe/members.html and clicking on the member’s biography.

    This year, the following members are facing reelection:

    Mary Helen Berlanga, D-Corpus Christi
    Mavis Knight, D-Dallas
    Patricia Hardy, R-Weatherford
    Terri Leo, R-Spring
    Gail Lowe, R-Lampasas
    David Bradley, R-Beaumont
    Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands

    Hope that helps!

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