Archive for the ‘Barbara Cargill’ Category

SBOE Candidate Gets Far-Right Endorsements

February 29, 2012

Five of the Texas State Board of Education‘s far-right bloc have endorsed Marty Rowley of Amarillo in the Republican primary for the District 15 state board seat. Rowley’s campaign blog says board Chair Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands; former chair Gail Lowe, R-Lampasas; Charlie Garza, R-El Paso; Terri Leo, R-Spring; and Ken Mercer, R-San Antonio have “unanimously” endorsed him. We don’t know what he means by “unanimous”: a sixth member of the board’s far-right bloc, David Bradley, R-Beaumont Buna, is not on the list of endorsers. (All of the board’s far-right members except Leo are seeking re-election this year.)

Rowley is seeking the board seat currently held by Bob Craig, R-Lubbock, who is not seeking re-election. Anette Carlisle, president of the Amarillo Independent School District’s Board of Trustees, is also running for the Republican nomination for that seat. Steven Schafersman of Midland is the lone Democrat running for the seat.

The Texas Freedom Network’s SBOE Election Watch page includes more information about the board elections and candidates.

(Thanks to TFN Insider reader abb3w for the heads-up.)

Going to Her Base

February 16, 2012

Texas State Board of Education Chairwoman Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, is trying to lock up her religious-right base in her race for re-election this year. In an email today, the right-wing Houston Area Pastor Council is touting Cargill’s planned speech on March 1 at the Montgomery County Pastor Luncheon:

“The Texas State Board of Education has been in the national media repeatedly in the past several years over our stand for protecting history textbooks from political correctness, teaching both strengths and weaknesses of Darwinian Evolutionary Theory, and now over the assault by allies of Planned Parenthood to undermine Abstinence Based sex education.

Hon. Barbara Cargill is now the SBOE Chairman and one of the courageous conservatives who has withstood intense attacks by anti-religious groups such as Texas Freedom Network, ACLU and others. YOU NEED TO HEAR FROM HER as to why there is such a battle for control over Texas education and what we need to do this year!”

TFN is an “anti-religious group”? That would certainly surprise the clergy leaders who serve on our board as well as the hundreds of others who participate in our Texas Faith Network.

We do, however, oppose the religious right’s use of faith as a political weapon. That’s why we called out Cargill when she declared that there were only “six true conservative Christians” on a State Board of Education in which nearly all of the 15 members are Christians and certainly more than six are “conservative.”

It’s also why we have called out the head of the Houston Area Pastor Council, Dave Welch, when he has said such vile things as this during the State Board of Education’s 2010 debate over an anti-Muslim resolution:

“Once again, my guns are aimed at the pathetic preachers, pitiful pastors and compromised clergy that TFN, AU, ACLU and their ilk trot out as props for their leftist agendas. They disgust me. Their list of ‘nearly 100 religious leaders from Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths’ who signed a letter opposing the resolution represents a tiny cadre of liberals who have all rejected the fundamentals of their own faiths…. It was my joy to testify at the hearing and represent the hundreds of ‘real’ pastors around this state we speak for as well as all those who share our values but have not yet suited up for the game.”

We hope the lunch is nice, Ms. Cargill. Please say “hi” to Pastor Welch for us.

Follow the candidates and issues in this year’s State Board of Education elections on TFN’s special SBOE Election Watch page here.

Celebrating Mediocrity in Texas?

January 31, 2012

This should tell you a lot about the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of the Texas State Board of Education. Last year the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute sharply criticized the state board for its “ideological manipulation,” historical revisionism and contempt for expertise in adopting new social studies curriculum standards for Texas public schools in 2010. Today a new Fordham report gives science curriculum standards adopted by the state board in 2009 a grade of “C.” Yet here’s what state board Chairwoman Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, had to say about the new Fordham report:

“As a science teacher, I am pleased that our standards received a score of 5 out of 7 for content and rigor. We look forward to continuing to work with Texas teachers to bring the best instruction to the classroom with our excellent science standards.”

Seriously? She celebrates a “C” grade? She really thinks Texas is giving kids the “best instruction” with “excellent science standards” that, in fact, get low marks from a conservative education think-tank? News flash for Ms. Cargill: Most parents don’t think mediocrity is something to celebrate, especially when it comes to the education of their children.

From the Fordham report’s section on Texas:

“Texas has produced a set of science standards with areas of strength—including a particularly well-done sequence for earth and space science—but also with weaknesses that cannot be overlooked. These include a tendency across nearly all disciplines to pay lip service to critical content with vague statements, and, somewhat less often, the presence of material that’s well below grade level.”

While giving the standards decent marks in some areas, Fordham describes other sections with words like “sketchy,” “redundant,” “riddled with errors,” and “woefully imbalanced.” Would you describe such standards as “excellent”? We doubt it, but an ideologue like Cargill does.

Don McLeroy, a former board member who served as chairman during the science curriculum standards adoption, was pleased with Fordham’s remarks about how evolution is covered in the standards. Says McLeroy:

“The report confirms what I have always insisted: that the creationists inserted real scientific rigor into the teaching of evolution.”

Good grief. Fordham actually said “evolution is all but ignored” in standards for primary grades, and discussions on the topic in middle school grades are inaccurate. The report points to one particular misleading section about the evolution of finches:

“Creationists often distort these important findings to argue that Darwinian macroevolution does not occur—instead, microevolution does. In addition, the word ‘evolution’ is never used in any of the middle school standards, and the term “natural selection” is never explained.”

Fordham does give the high school bi0logy of evolution good marks, noting that “there are no concessions to ‘controversies’ or ‘alternative theories.'” But that’s actually despite the efforts of Cargill and McLeroy, who wanted the standards to include phony “weaknesses” of evolution promoted by creationists. Fortunately, TFN and other supporters of science education kept that nonsense out of the standards.

And then this from Fordham:

“(T)he high school biology course is exemplary in its choice and presentation of topics, including its thorough consideration of biological evolution. Even so, the term ‘natural selection’ appears just three times, as does the word ‘evolution’ and its variants. It is hard to see how Texas students will be able to handle this course, given the insufficient foundations offered prior to high school.”

It’s no surprise Fordham found that “natural selection” gets short shrift in the standards — it was one of the core concepts that McLeroy and other creationists on the board specifically tried to weaken in 2009.

Public education is clearly under siege in Texas. The Legislature is cutting billions of dollars in funding for public schools. Thousands of teachers are losing their jobs. And members of the State Board of Education are celebrating mediocrity (or worse) in the curriculum standards they’re adopting.

It’s hard to imagine that voters need more evidence that this year — with all 15 state board seats up for election — will be critical to the future of public education in Texas. Check out TFN’s SBOE Election Watch page here.

SBOE Campaign Finance Reports

January 18, 2012

All Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) seats are up for election this year, but so far there’s not a lot of money flowing into those campaigns. Nearly all SBOE candidates have now filed their July 1, 2011-December 31, 2011, campaign finance reports with the Texas Ethics Commission.

Some non-surprises:

  • Geraldine “Tincy” Miller, R-Dallas, is again self-funding her campaign, this time in an effort to retake the District 12 seat she lost to George Clayton, R-Richardson, in 2010. So far Miller has spent about $40,000 of her own money.
  • Former SBOE member Don McLeroy, R-College Station, is spreading around a little cash (some left over from his losing race against Thomas Ratliff, R-Mount Pleasant, in 2010) among far-right board incumbents Charlie Garza, R-El Paso, of District 1 ($500), Ken Mercer, R-San Antonio, of District 5 ($500), and Gail Lowe, R-Lampasas, of District 14 ($1,801.60). He has also contributed $500 to Randy Stevenson, R-Tyler, who is trying to unseat Ratliff in District 9 and return to the board he left after 1998.
  • Neal Frey, head of the far-right censorship outfit Educational Research Analysts (founded by the late Mel and Norma Gabler of Longview in East Texas), has given $1,000 to Garza, $500 to Mercer, $1,000 to Stevenson, $500 to current board chair Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands (District 6), and $500 to Terri Leo, R-Spring, before the she decided not to run for re-election last fall.

Among the races that are attracting the most money (although totals are relatively modest compared to races for other elections in the state):

District 5: Ken Mercer, R-San Antonio ($15,611.75 in contributions, including $10,ooo from just one donor) vs. Steve Salyer, R-San Antonio ($1,150.00 in contributions plus a $5,000 from himself)

District 6: Donna Bahorich, R-Houston ($325 in contributions plus a $50,000 loan from herself to her campaign); no Republican challenger. None of the three Democrats (Tracy Jensen, Patty Quintana-Nisson and David Scott, all of Houston) has raised more than $1,600 yet.

District 8: Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands ($38,586.84 in contributions, $18,710.93 in expenditures, $25,626.25 in cash on hand) has raised a healthy chunk of change, but she also spent more than $12,000 (at least) on a fundraising event at a fancy country club in The Woodlands. Her Republican opponent, Linda Ellis of The Woodlands, has spent $7,019.40 so far.

District 9: Incumbent Thomas Ratliff, R-Mount Pleasant, has raised $17,413.15 in his race against challenger Randy Stevenson, R-Tyler, who has raised $5,225, including $1,100 from his own pocket.

District 12: Incumbent George Clayton, R-Richardson, ($3,921.42 in expenditures) is trying to fend off challenges from three other Republicans: “Tincy” Miller ($41,015.65 in expenditures, mostly her own money); Pam Little, R-Fairview ($8,324 in expenditures and loans from herself of $21,500); and Gail Spulock, R-Richardson (no report posted yet).

District 15: Incumbent Bob Craig, R-Lubbock, is not seeking election. Marty Rowley, R-Amarillo ($5,614.59 in expenditures and $10,000 in loans, combined, from himself and his wife) is running against Anette Carlisle, R-Amarillio, ($23,998.19 in expenditures) in the Republican primary. Steven Schafersman, D-Midland, is the only Democrat running.

Check our SBOE Election Watch page here for a list of candidates and other info.

Barbara Cargill Shades the Truth Again

January 6, 2012

Barbara Cargill, chair of the Texas State Board of Education, wasn’t honest with her audience at a candidate forum in Conroe (north of Houston) last night. Speaking at the forum (which was hosted by the Montgomery County Eagle Forum), Cargill claimed that she and other board members didn’t push through substantial last-minute changes, over the objections of teachers and curriculum specialists, to new language arts standards the board adopted in 2008. From the Magnolia News:

It is “absolutely false” that curriculum changes were snuck into the standards; the SBOE was “bogged down” and it was recommended the board bring in a facilitator to help with the process, which is what happened, Cargill said. Six months later, the curriculum changes were completed, she said.

“We listen to our teachers and parents and business leaders,” Cargill said of the SBOE.

But objective observers know that’s not true. Here’s how the Associated Press explained what happened at that notorious final state board meeting on the revised language arts standards in May 2008:

The State Board of Education’s debate on new English and reading standards took another turn Friday as members approved a never-before-seen version of the lengthy document that materialized less than an hour before the board was to take a final vote.

After a terse debate on the new curriculum, the board voted 9-6 in favor of the new version, which will remain in place for the next decade and sets standards for state tests and textbooks, as well as classroom teaching.

Experts and teachers have been working on the new curriculum standards for 21/2 years.

“I find it’s really wild that we can work for three years on a project and then the board is so qualified they can pull it out of their hat overnight,” said board member Pat Hardy, a Fort Worth Republican who, like other board members, received the substituted document when it was slipped under her hotel room door less than an hour before their meeting was set to convene Friday morning.

Some members of the board prepared the latest version overnight.

“I’m appalled by the process that we’ve taken part in,” said board member Bob Craig, a Republican from Lubbock. There’s been “no opportunity to review it, no teacher group is involved, not even the (Texas Education Agency) staff was involved or had seen it.”

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TX SBOE Chair Is Trying to Hide the Truth

November 9, 2011

The news media is picking up on the story we broke Monday about a report for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board that sharply criticizes new history curriculum standards adopted by the State Board of Education (SBOE) last year. And as the controversy grows, SBOE Chairwoman Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, is trying desperately to hide the truth about just how badly the state board screwed up.

In a statement to public radio station KUT in Austin and the Dallas Morning News, Cargill claims that the state board “works diligently” to develop curriculum standards that prepare Texas kids for college:

“I fully support the recently adopted social studies curriculum standards. The U.S. Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, Founding Fathers, citizenship, patriotism, and American Exceptionalism are at the core of these standards. The State Board of Education works diligently to ensure all Texas students are exposed to curriculum standards aimed at college-preparedness, and these TEKS reflect those efforts.”

Unfortunately, that’s simply not true, and at least one of Cargill’s board colleagues and ideological allies — former chairwoman Gail Lowe, R-Lampasas — has admitted as much.

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SBOE Candidate: Barbara Cargill

October 8, 2011

Because of redistricting, all 15 seats on the Texas State Board of Education will be up for grabs in the November 2012 elections. The results of those elections will determine whether the religious right’s corrosive  influence over public education will weaken or grow as the board considers what the next generation of public school students in Texas will learn about sex education, social studies, science and other subjects. We plan to publish on TFN Insider candidate announcements for a seat on the SBOE. We will publish announcements in no particular order, and their publication does not constitute any sort of endorsement by TFN. We will redact requests for contributions or mentions of fundraising events from the announcements, but we will provide links to the candidates’ websites (if available).

Barbara Cargill, District 8, R-The Woodlands
(Incumbent)

Barbara Cargill has indicated that she will seek re-election next year to her District 8 seat on the Texas State Board of Education. Gov. Rick Perry appointed Cargill, who first won election to her seat in 2004, as board chair in July of this year. An outspoken member of the board’s far-right faction, she has supported efforts to water down instruction 0n evolutionary science and voted to adopt new social studies curriculum standards that the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute criticized as “heavily politicized.” Her campaign website is here.

Cargill made her bid for re-election clear in an October 6 “Cargill Connection” e-newsletter to supporters. We have deleted the explicit fundraising appeal in the excerpt below:

I have now led two board meetings and want to thank you for your prayers and words of encouragement. The celebration/fundraising event here in The Woodlands made us feel supported and appreciated – just what I, my husband, and our boys needed! In honor of my appointment as Chair, Governor Perry graciously recorded a message that you can view on this link. Please take a minute to enjoy it.

. . . . Donations whether large or small are needed and appreciated as I continue serving our children as a conservative voice in Austin! Thank you for allowing me that privilege.

Liberty Institute: Cargill Hearts Liberals

August 29, 2011

We told you that we didn’t expect the far right to take it well when they heard that students would be treated to science, and only science, in new instructional materials approved by the State Board of Education. But this we did not see this coming — the far-right embracing an entirely new standard of success for SBOE chair Barbara Cargill: pleasing us.

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Cargill Sort of Explains Herself

July 20, 2011

Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, is having a tough go of it to begin her tenure as the Texas State Board of Education gavel-master. But lame “blame the media” and “you were never meant to hear that” excuses from her and her supporters (including former board chairman Don McLeroy) will do little to fix the damage the new board chairwoman’s own comments have caused.

We’re talking of comments from Cargill — made just days after Gov. Rick Perry appointed her as board chair — that offended her fellow board members. For instance, board member Bob Craig, R-Lubbock, did not appreciate Cargill’s suggestion there there are only “six true conservative Christians on the board.” Do a little math and it becomes clear Cargill had taken it upon herself to de-Christianize some of her fellow board members, including conservative Republicans like Craig.

In a Houston Chronicle story this week, Cargill tried to explain herself:

“My comments certainly were not intended to be divisive. It was for a particular audience.”

You see, Bob, sure she said it, but you were never meant to hear it. She thought she was just amongst friends — friends she thought would be receptive to suggestions that you and some of the other board members are not good Christians.

Cargill’s defenders blamed TFN and the news media in the Chronicle story. Here’s what McLeroy, whose willingness to put politics ahead of education cost him the chairmanship two years ago, had to say:

“She was just making a political distinction, not a religious distinction, and it’s much to do about nothing — except for the Texas Freedom Network and their friends who want to throw gasoline on the fire and try to ruin a fine lady.”

And Liberty Institute, the Texas affiliate for Focus on the Family, said Cargill was simply referencing:

“a label and category that the media makes regular use of themselves to describe certain State Board of Education members.”

Right, let’s blame the media and TFN for pointing to a video of Cargill’s comments in full and in context. Neither TFN nor the media told or forced Cargill to say what she did. (And we marvel at the fact that she and McLeroy fail to see just how offensive those comments really were.)

But since some appear to believe that Cargill’s comments have been taken out of context, here again are videos of her entire speech:

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The Coming Storm

July 20, 2011

Just a reminder about what new chairwoman Barbara Cargill — and her five “conservative Christian” allies on the State Board of Education — have in mind for the meeting this week:

I am a little bit concerned in looking at some of these science online supplementary materials. I looked at one of the links and there was a picture of a — a graphic of a human fetus next to a gorilla fetus talking about how they only differ by one amino acid. Therefore, universal common decent. So that is of some concern. And I am not quite sure if we are going to have the votes to overturn that. We will work diligently to rectify and correct some of that. But remember we lost a conservative seat, so we’re down to six.

In this unguarded moment, Cargill drops the double-speak and is honest about her plan for the first meeting over which she will preside as chair  — pressure publishers to censor scientific information from their materials and to insert bogus information questioning evolution. And she knows exactly what her task is: to get the extra votes necessary to accomplish this.

Stay tuned to TFN Insider on Thursday and Friday as we give you a front-row seat at the contentious hearing and board vote.

TFN Insider Will Live-Blog Science Debate

July 18, 2011

TFN Insider will be live-blogging (and live-tweeting via @TFN) from the State Board of Education’s Thursday public hearing and Friday final debate and vote on the adoption of new science instructional materials for Texas public schools. This week’s state board meeting comes two years after board members adopted curriculum standards that creationists hoped would force publishers to challenge evolutionary science in their new instructional materials. Information about the meeting times and location is here.

The Texas news media is focusing on the story, including controversial comments from Barbara Cargill, the state board’s newly appointed chair. TFN Insider broke the news about Cargill’s comments questioning the faith of some of her board colleagues and insisting that the new science instructional materials be revised to conform to her creationist views. Check out an Austin American-Statesman editorial and stories from the Dallas Morning News and the Houston Chronicle.

Cargill Comment Troubles SBOE Members

July 14, 2011

It looks like Texas State Board of Education Chairwoman Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, has some serious fence-mending to do after implicitly questioning the faith of some of her board colleagues last week. After telling Texas Eagle Forum activists that she was one of only “six true conservative Christians on the board,” Cargill heard from a Republican colleague who apparently didn’t make her list. According to the Houston Press, board member and fellow Republican board member Bob Craig of Lubbock called Cargill to give her a piece of his mind:

“I was offended that her comments seemed to indicate that only six people on the board were Christians. I am a Christian and very active in First United Methodist Church here in Lubbock. I have very strong religious beliefs, so that kind of comment did not sit well with me.”

Another Republican board member, Thomas Ratliff of Mount Pleasant, released a statement:

“It’s an unfortunate start to her tenure as chairwoman. These kind of comments only further divide the board rather than bring us together for the benefit of our students and our schools. I look forward to better days ahead for our new chair.”

Don’t hold your breath, Thomas. Cargill — appointed by Gov. Rick Perry as board chair less than two weeks ago — is just following in the footsteps of other far-right board colleagues who question the faith of people (here and here, for example) who think the board should stop dragging our public schools into the culture wars.

Barbara Cargill’s Anti-Science Agenda

July 11, 2011

New Texas State Board of Education Chairwoman Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, made clear at her speech last week to Texas Eagle Forum activists that she is determined to politicize the board’s adoption of science instructional materials on July 20-22. She’ll be walking in the footsteps of former board chairman Don McLeroy and chairwoman Gail Lowe, both of whom failed to win Senate confirmation because they put their political agendas ahead of educating Texas kids.

We’ve already told you about about Cargill questioning the faith of state board colleagues who don’t agree with her. And we reported other troubling comments from Cargill’s Texas Eagle Forum talk. But Cargill also made extended comments about the coming science adoption — and those comments aren’t encouraging for parents who want their children to get an education based on sound science instead of ideology.

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Barbara Cargill: In Her Own Words

July 9, 2011

UPDATE: Apparently, someone was embarrassed that we were highlighting Barbara Cargill’s comments at a Texas Eagle Forum event last week. YouTube videos of those comments have now been made private. No matter. We already have those comments and the videos. We’ll have more from Cargill’s talk — this time her troubling comments about the coming of adoption of science instructional materials — shortly.

NEWER UPDATE: The videos are again available below.

***

Newly appointed Texas State Board of Education Chairwoman Barbara Cargill’s talk before Texas Eagle Forum activists on Thursday in Conroe (near Houston) offered more evidence that she and her board allies are more interested in promoting political agendas than ensuring that kids get a sound education in their public school classrooms.

Consider, for example, this comment about people she has appointed to help revise math curriculum standards this summer:

“I have many nominees from District 8 who are there to represent us and our conservative voices.”

Represent “conservative voices”? In writing math curriculum standards? We were unaware that the Pythagorean theorem or equations like “2+2=4” have conservative and liberal perspectives.

Then again, Cargill is the same board member who screened applicants to serve on social studies curriculum teams by asking whether they consider themselves “conservative.”

And what about criticism that some board members have repeatedly tried to politicize curriculum standards and textbook adoptions? The new chairwoman — who replaces two immediate predecessors who failed to win Senate confirmation at least in part because their tenures were so politically divisive — had this to say to the Texas Eagle Forum folks:

“We must be doing the right thing if so many people are becoming angry.”

Gosh, that’s an interesting standard for justifying poor conduct. Would you let students get away with that one, Madam Chairwoman?

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Barbara Cargill: Some Things Never Change

July 8, 2011

UPDATE: Apparently, someone was embarrassed that we were highlighting Barbara Cargill’s comments at a Texas Eagle Forum event last week. YouTube videos of those comments have now been made private. No matter. We already have those comments and the videos. We’ll have more from Cargill’s talk — this time her troubling comments about the coming of adoption of science instructional materials — shortly.

NEWER UPDATE: The video linked in the post is available again.

***

Well, this sure didn’t take long. Last Tuesday the San Antonio Express-News quoted newly appointed Texas State Board of Education Chairwoman Barbara Cargill as saying that she would “facilitate the meetings with a lot of character and a listening ear because we all represent our various districts, so we certainly want to hear from every board member on the issues.” Then just two days later she questioned the faith and politics of fellow board members whose views are different from her own.

Speaking Thursday night at a Texas Eagle Forum event in Conroe, this is how Cargill, R-The Woodlands, described the faction of board members with whom she votes in lockstep:

“Right now there are six true conservative Christians on the board.”

Say what? That certainly must be news to four other Republicans on the board (Marsha Farney, R-Georgetown; Pat Hardy, R-Fort Worth; Bob Craig, R-Lubbock; and Thomas Ratliff, R-Mount Pleasant), who are pretty darn conservative as well as Christians (and that’s not even considering the board’s Democrats who are also Christians).

Cargill is already following in the footsteps of former board chair Don McLeroy, who on more than one occasion essentially described the divisions on the state board as between “Christian conservatives” and everyone else. Like when McLeroy said this:

“Conservatives on our board are the only ones—the Christian conservatives—that are able to sit there and to think for themselves and say, well, wait. Is this really good policy?”

Cue the complaints that we’re somehow attacking Cargill’s faith. Of course, we’re not. We’re simply marveling that she and her allies on the board seem so clueless about how offensive it sounds when they question the faith (never mind the politics) of their own colleagues.

We’ll have more remarkable comments from Cargill’s talk in the coming days.