As we expected, today’s Texas State Board of Education meeting provided at least some clues about whether the new board is likely to refocus its work on education instead of politics. Some clues were clearer others.

On the positive side was the election of two moderates as board officers: Bob Craig, R-Lubbock, as vice chair and Mary Helen Berlanga, D-Corpus Christi, as secretary. Board members chose both over nominees from the board’s far-right faction: Ken Mercer, R-San Antonio, for vice chair and Terri Leo, R-Spring, for secretary. The votes seemed to highlight the board’s new ideological divide, with six right-wingers — Mercer; Leo, Garza; chairwoman Gail Lowe, R-Lampasas; David Bradley, R-Beaumont Buna; and Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands — voting as a bloc. (Garza actually argued that Berlanga was an inappropriate choice as secretary because she happened to be late to today’s meeting and therefore showed that she isn’t “punctual” enough for him. Seriously? How petty. Another board member pointed out that Berlanga, an attorney who has served on the board since the early 1980s, had been in court earlier in the day, making her late in getting to Austin.)

On the other hand, board members didn’t make many substantive changes to board operating rules. But there were some encouraging signs. For example, a number of board members — including several new ones — indicated their desire that the board give more deference to real scholarship when making decisions about textbook adoptions. Makes sense to us, of course. Yet even that sentiment brought objections from some board members whose arguments vaguely echoed Don McLeroy’s infamous “somebody’s gotta stand up to experts” declaration two years ago. (Garza used the moment to insist that there is no scholarly consensus on the existence of global warming. In fact, the existence of global warming isn’t in doubt. The cause of global warming/climate change remains under some debate, although even there the scientific evidence increasingly points to human activity as a cause.)

It’s unclear whether and when the board will consider any changes to its process for revising curriculum standards over the next two years. We’ll keep you updated.


9 Responses to “Clues”

  1. Tom M Says:

    Clearly any comic relief lost due to McLeroy’s departure will be made up for by Charlie Garza taking up the dunce cap.

  2. Charles Says:

    Charlie Chan say:

    “Looks like we got new Fruitcake No. 1.”

    Thanks to TFN for its fine reporting.

  3. jdg Says:

    “Garza used the moment to insist that there is no scholarly consensus on the existence of global warming”

    How can I contact this clown to explain to him that global warming does exist? I live in El Paso.
    We had Nunez for a while.

  4. Eric Hetvile Says:

    Somebody’s gotta stand up to ignoramuses who try to stand up to the experts.

  5. derBrat Says:

    People like Garza are immune to facts because they already own the “truth.”

  6. Ben Says:

    From what I understand, there is no question at all that human activity (i.e. CO2 emissions) is the major cause of global warming, and there hasn’t been any debate on that topic among legitimate, dogma-free scientists for several years. If I’m wrong about this, I’d love to see a link to an article in a good science journal.

  7. Lorenzo Sadun Says:

    Response to Ben: Among scientists, there is no question about the reality and almost no question about the major causes of global warming. Among the general public, it’s a different story. It’s a standard talking point on right-wing radio, echoed frequently by politicians (including a number in the US Senate), that man-made global warming is a hoax, just as they claim that evolution is a hoax. A little over a year ago, items were added to the TEKS science standards to suggest that global warming isn’t real.

    Bottom line: Garza is dead wrong, but he’s not alone in his ignorance. He’s just echoing what the right wingers on the SBOE have been saying for a long time.

  8. Ben Says:

    Lorenzo, thanks. I was being diplomatic since TFN said: “The cause of global warming/climate change remains under some debate, although even there the scientific evidence increasingly points to human activity as a cause.”

    Again, from what I understand, no, there hasn’t been any debate on this for several years now among legitimate, dogma-free scientists. There is a consensus, supported by a wealth of evidence, and that evidence says human activity is causing global warming.

  9. Charles Says:

    Can anyone here explain to me why Terri Leo would be an up-to-date expert on global warming and what is causing it? Oh, I forgot. We should forget about the scientists who actually study global warming and defer to the learned advice of some beef-gnawing cowpoke in Lubbock.

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