The Texas Tribune, an online news site launched just last fall, has done a great job covering the disaster commonly called the State Board of Education. Two stories in the last few days are particularly revealing of the political agendas that corrupt the board’s job of ensuring that Texas students get a sound education.
Last Friday Tribune writer Abby Rapoport looked at the Republican runoff for the District 10 state board seat currently held by Cynthia Dunbar, R-Richmond. Dunbar announced last fall that she would not seek re-election and recruited State Republican Executive Committee member Brian Russell, an Austin attorney, to run for the seat. Russell finished just behind Marsha Farney of Georgetown in the March 2 primary.
Dunbar, as you will remember, called public education unconstitutional, “tyrannical” and “a subtly deceptive tool of perversion” in her 2008 book, One Nation Under God. She and other far-right culture warriors on the board regard anyone who disagrees with them, even fellow Republicans, as leftists who hate Christians. One of their targets has been Bob Craig, a Republican board member from Lubbock who last year opposed efforts to promote creationist arguments against evolution in science classrooms. Russell, not even on the board yet, already expresses his contempt for Craig:
“Bob Craig is not conservative. He’s a liberal on anyone’s spectrum except his own.”
Do you think that kind of rhetoric will lead to a good working relationship between the two Republicans? No, neither do we. We’ll note that Craig destroyed his far-right challenger in the March 2 GOP primary. Clearly, West Texas Republicans — hardly liberals — see Craig as their kind of conservative. And just as clear is that Russell shares the combative, intolerant approach of Dunbar and other far-right board members who see everyone else as an implacable enemy.
Then on Monday Tribune writer Brian Thevenot looked at last week’s complaint by Gail Lowe, the state board’s far-right chairwoman, that the news media has supposedly misreported the board’s deletion of Thomas Jefferson from world history standards. We have already explained why Lowe’s defense of that move is off the mark. Thevenot doesn’t have much patience for Lowe’s complaints either, noting that some board members “obfuscate as often as inform”:
“By ignoring the context of the [motion to remove Jefferson] in its release, the board essentially committed the same infraction of incompleteness that they accuse the unnamed media of committing. And that’s a pattern with many board members: making controversial changes without explaining their reasons, then carping at the media for alleged misinterpretations.”