In a surprise meeting on the Senate floor, the Senate Nominations Committee in Austin has just approved the appointment of Don McLeroy as chairman of the Texas State Board of Education. It appears that McLeroy’s supporters plan to bring his confirmation to the full Senate early next week. Confirmation will require a two-thirds vote.
Committee Chairman Mike Jackson, R-La Porte, had said he would not bring up McLeroy’s confirmation for a vote in committee unless he thought there were enough votes to get it in the full Senate. We don’t know at this point whether opposition from nearly all Democrats and some Republicans has softened, but the signs are alarming.
If you haven’t done so already, it’s critical that you contact your senator and tell him or her that you oppose McLeroy’s confirmation. You can find the name and contact information for your senator here.
Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller has released the following statement:
“If the Texas Senate genuinely cares about quality public education, they will reject as state board chairman a man who apparently agrees that parents who want to teach their kids about evolution are monsters. And we’ll see whether senators really want a chairman who presides over a board that is so focused on ‘culture war’ battles that it has made Texas look like an educational backwater to the rest of the country.”
Gov. Perry appointed McLeroy board chairman in July 2007. Since then, the board has turned debates over language arts and science curriculum standards in “culture war” battlegrounds. Chairman McLeroy has also endorsed a book that says parents who want to teach children about evolution are “monsters” and calls clergy who see no conflict between faith and science “morons.” This spring McLeroy led other creationists on the state board in adopting new science curriculum standards that call the scientific consensus on evolution into question and no longer include references to scientific estimates of the age of the universe.