Archive for the ‘David Bradley’ Category

Did David Barton Break the Law?

April 2, 2012

The Texas Freedom Network just sent out the following press release:

FUNDRAISERS FOR TEXAS SBOE INCUMBENT’S CAMPAIGN RAISE QUESTIONS

TFN Asks for Investigation into Whether David Barton’s Support for SBOE Incumbent David Bradley Violates State Law

The Texas Freedom Network today asked district attorneys in Harris and Jefferson counties to investigate whether a State Board of Education (SBOE) incumbent’s campaign fundraising events feature the illegal involvement of a prominent political leader who also publishes instructional materials used in Texas public schools.

Republican SBOE member David Bradley’s campaign website touted David Barton, head of a political advocacy group called WallBuilders, as a featured speaker at two Bradley fundraisers on Saturday (March 31) in Beaumont and Houston. Among the state board’ s responsibilities is adopting instructional materials for public schools. WallBuilders publishes instructional materials. But according to the Education Code, “a person engaged in manufacturing, shipping, selling or advertising instructional materials commits an offense if the person makes or authorizes a political contribution to or takes part in, directly or indirectly, the campaign of any person seeking election to or serving on the board.” Violation of the statute is a Class B misdemeanor.

Barton’s participation in Bradley’s campaign raises questions about the law as well as propriety, TFN President Kathy Miller said.

“Clearly, we think this raises serious legal questions about Mr. Bradley’s fundraising and Mr. Barton’s participation in it,” Miller said. “But it also rings alarm bells about potential cronyism and highlights how big a role politics plays in decisions about what textbooks our kids use in their schools. This isn’t just a technicality. We shouldn’t have people who are involved in creating and selling instructional materials also raising money for candidates for a state board that decides which materials will be sold to schools.”

Barton and WallBuilders have published various instructional materials used in public schools.

  • Barton is co-author of an American history textbook, Drive Thru America, that has been marketed to schools as “designed to meet state-mandated curriculum guidelines” and aligned with standards developed by the National Council for the Social Studies. The state board is set to consider proposed instructional materials for social studies in 2014.
  • Various school districts reported using during the 2005-06 school year materials published by WallBuilders, including the “American Government and Bible” video (Brady ISD); Barton’s book “Original Intent: The Courts, the Constitution & Religion” and the “Foundations of American Government” and “The Spirit of the American Revolution” videos (Mineral Wells ISD); and “America’s Godly Heritage” video (Belton ISD).
  • Barton’s organization, WallBuilder Press, publishes the “New Testament Bible Study Course: Dallas High Schools” and “Old Testament Bible Study Course: Dallas High Schools,” which were originally published by Dallas Public Schools. The New Testament course book was still used in at least one Texas school district as recently as the 2005-06 school year. The Legislature passed a law laying out guidelines for public school Bible classes in 2007, and the State Board of Education subsequently adopted curriculum standards for the courses.

Bradley’s challenger in the SBOE District 7 Republican primary is Rita Ashley of Beaumont. Because no Democrat is seeking the seat, the winner of the GOP primary will be a member of the SBOE when that body approves textbooks and other instructional materials for public schools, including for science in 2013 and social studies in 2014.

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David Bradley Goes Courting

March 20, 2012

Like Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst this month and Gov. Rick Perry for years, David Bradley is courting conservative evangelical pastors in his bid for re-election to office.

Bradley, R-Beaumont Buna, will speak on March 27 at a luncheon for the Beaumont Area Pastor Council, which is affiliated with the right-wing Houston Area Pastor Council. From a Pastor Council email today:

“David has been a bulwark against liberal forces who want to rewrite our history books and insert liberal causes into school curriculum. These forces are also working diligently to get access to the Permanent School Fund for their own agendas.”

Bradley supported new social studies standards in 2010 that even the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute criticizes as a “political distortion of history” with “misrepresentations at every turn.” One of the most divisive voices on the state board, Bradley also opposes sex education, wants to dumb-down instruction on evolution in science classes and rejects teaching social studies students that the Constitution protects separation of church and state. In 2008 he boasted that the state board “spanked” teachers who disagreed with its controversial decisions on curriculum standards. But the Pastor Council emails praises Bradley as supposedly being “on the front lines for our children and grandchildren.”

Bradley faces Republican Rita Ashley of Beaumont in the Republican primary on May 29.

Read more about the State Board of Education elections this year at TFN’s SBOE election online HQ.

David Bradley Rejects ‘Local Control’

March 7, 2012

The Texas Republican Party has long trumpeted a defense of “local control” for communities and school districts against what it sees as the abusive authority of federal and state government. In fact, the state party’s official platform makes it explicit, particularly when it comes to public education:

We support school choice and believe that quality education is best achieved by encouraging parental involvement, protecting parental rights, and maximizing local independent school district control. District superintendents and their employees should be made solely accountable to their locally elected boards. We support sensible consolidation of local school districts. We encourage local ISDs to consider carefully the advantages and disadvantages of accepting federal education money.

But State Board of Education member David Bradley, R-Beaumont Buna, a ringleader of the board’s far-right faction, thinks local communities don’t know how to run their own school districts. Here’s what he had to say at a candidate forum on Monday:

“Everyone likes to say ‘local control,’ but left unchecked, sometimes people don’t always do the best jobs.”

Bradley has served on the state board since the 1990s and is seeking re-election this year. He certainly hasn’t been shy over the years about criticizing the federal government for supposedly meddling in local decisions about education. But he seems all in favor of a top-down approach when it comes to the relationship between the state board on which he sits and local school boards. Apparently, Bradley thinks local folks are fools who just can’t be trusted to know what’s best for their own kids.

TFN’s SBOE election watch page includes more information on candidates and districts in the 2012 elections.

Contempt for Voters

August 20, 2011

So what’s with the dishonest campaign to remove from office a State Board of Education member who had the gall to challenge — successfully — the re-election of a prominent member of the state board’s far-right faction in 2010? Just another example of the far right’s contempt for Texas voters.

We’re talking about Thomas Ratliff, a Republican from Mount Pleasant who defeated Don “Somebody’s Gotta Stand Up to Experts” McLeroy in last year’s GOP primary for the District 9 state board seat. McLeroy, a College Station dentist and self-identified “young Earth creationist,” had served as Gov. Rick Perry’s state board chairman from 2007 to 2009 and led efforts to dumb down instruction on evolution in public school science classes.

Ratliff’s victory over McLeroy infuriated other far-right board members and their supporters. But because voters clearly preferred a common-sense approach to education over McLeroy’s repeated efforts to promote his own personal beliefs in public schools, Ratliff’s critics have adopted a legal strategy to get him thrown off the board. They claim Texas law forbids Ratliff from serving on the board because he is a registered lobbyist. But that prohibition applies only to lobbyists who are paid to work on business related to the board’s operations. Ratliff has pointed out repeatedly that he does not.

In January, to settle the matter, Ratliff asked then-Chairwoman Gail Lowe — a member of the state board’s far-right faction — to seek an opinion from the Texas attorney general on his eligibility to serve on the board. Ratliff also asked the Public Integrity Unit of the Travis County District Attorney’s Office to determine whether he was breaking the law.

Last week Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office released an official opinion on the matter. That followed a finding from the Public Integrity Unit last March. Neither document says what the board’s far-right members wanted to hear.

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David Bradley: Anti-Bigotry Champion? No.

July 1, 2011

Kate Alexander of the Austin American-Statesman has a story about how anti-Muslim bigotry almost derailed a major public school budget bill last week, nearly forcing the Texas Legislature into another special session. Prodded by anti-Muslim hysteria from right-wing activists (like the folks at Texas Eagle Forum), a number of House members voted against the budget because of concerns that Harmony Public Schools — a successful charter school network — supposedly has ties to radical Muslims from Turkey.

Alexander reports that far-right lawmakers fear the schools are being used to indoctrinate American students:

State Rep. Dan Flynn, R-Van, requested an investigation of Harmony. He said Harmony teaches Islamic culture, and “you cannot distinguish Islamic culture from their religion. Where there is smoke, you should look into it.”

But look who came to the defense of Harmony schools: State Board of Education member David Bradley, R-Beaumont Buna:

“There is a lot of misinformation, a certain level of fear and a small helping of bigotry that needs to go away,” said State Board of Education member David Bradley, R-Beaumont.

Bradley said he would be the “first to sound the alarm” if there were anything to be alarmed about. But the board has not received substantive complaints from parents of the 16,000 children that attend any of the 33 Harmony campuses across the state, he said.

“The only thing these guys are guilty of are high scores and being Turkish,” Bradley said.

Excuse us for laughing at the idea that David Bradley opposes anti-Muslim bigotry.

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Board Takes Up Anti-Muslim Measure

September 24, 2010

The Texas State Board of Education is about to take up a proposed resolution attacking Islam and claiming that social studies textbooks are anti-Christian. TFN Insider will keep you updated on progress.

9:53 a.m. – We notice that board members Barbara Cargill and Don McLeroy have been going through world history textbooks currently used in Texas publics schools. Cargill has them stacked at her desk. We anticipate that she and McLeroy will use examples from those books to try to prove that they reflect an anti-Christian, pro-Islamic bias. But those textbooks were approved for Texas schools by this board in 2002, and social conservatives at the time were very happy. Why? Because, as news reports from the time explain, they were able to force publishers to make numerous changes, including the addition of positive references to Christianity and the deletion of neutral or positive references to Islam. From a Houston Chronicle article dated Oct. 30, 2002 (now archived on a conservative Christian website):

The discussion of the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., by Muslim extremists was closely read by many reviewers. Raborn criticized a passage in the Glencoe/McGraw-Hill book that discussed how Osama bin Laden’s instructions to his followers to kill Americans was not supported by the Quran, which tells soldiers to show civilians kindness and justice.

“This is going to great length to put a positive light on Muslim teachings considering other passages in the Quran. Either leave this material out alltogether or present more balance,” Raborn said in written comments submitted to the state board.

The publisher replaced the deleted passage with a statement that al-Qaeda’s anti-American beliefs were not shared by all Muslims. “The attacks on the United States horrified people around the world, including millions of Muslims who live in the Middle East, the United States, and elsewhere,” the book now reads.

Other examples are found in an Oct. 27, 2002, Fort Worth Star-Telegram article in our files (apparently archived on a subscription-only website). The article notes that publishers were forced to delete this passage from one textbooks, World Explorer: People, Places and Cultures:

“But many more other teachings in the Quran, such as the importance of honesty, honor, giving to others and having love and respect for their families, govern their daily lives.”

Another textbook, World Civilizations: The Global Experience, added this passage:

“Christianity, for example, appealed to educated people, as it adopted a complex set of ideas about God and life. Its spirituality and its promise of eternal life also appealed to many other groups.”

That article summed up the changes:

“Some new Texas textbooks no longer teach that the Quran stresses honesty and honor, that glaciers moved over the earth millions of years ago or that Communists felt their system of government offered workers more security. “

The reference to glaciers was changed in one textbook to “in the distant past” because creationists insist that these rivers of ice could not have moved over the earth millions of years ago when, they argued, earth didn’t even exist.

Conservatives quoted by the article expressed their delight with the changes they forced publishers to make throughout their textbooks. Here’s what Chris Patterson of the far-right Texas Public Policy Foundation had to say:

“For the most part, we are delighted with the changes. The publishers made very substantive changes in adding content and correcting errors.”

Today, however, the State Board of Education’s bloc of social conservatives claim that social studies textbooks the board adopted eight years ago are anti-Christian and pro-Islam.

10 a.m. – Gail Lowe, state board chair, brings up the resolution. She says this resolution is just about the balanced treatment of “divergent religious groups.” Really? Then why does the resolution specifically attack Islam and make untrue claims about coverage of Islam and Christianity in the standards?

10:01: Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller is testifying. We’ll reproduce her testimony on here later. She’s making a sharp criticism of this inflammatory resolution: “It’s hard not to conclude that the misleading claims in this resolution are not the result of ignorance or are instead the result of fear-mongering.” She says: pass a neutral resolution that calls for on publishers to treat all religions fairly and accurately. Attacking Islam in the resolution is unnecessary and divisive.

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Coming Soon to Texas Classrooms?

July 1, 2010

We continue to marvel at the nostalgia some — such as certain members of the Texas State Board of Education — seem to have for the Confederacy of the American Civil War. This is 2010, after all. Isn’t it about time to let go of the misguided notion of the  “Lost Cause”? This nostalgia, after all, is the product of a political perspective that sees southern history in some glorified way that grossly distorts reality.

For example, in new social studies curriculum standards adopted in May, the Texas state board deliberately downplayed the central role that slavery played in causing the Civil War. The new standards also require students to study the ideas in Confederate President Jefferson Davis’ inaugural address. That address is full of excuses for southern secession but includes not one word about slavery despite the abundance of historical evidence showing that the bitter divide over slavery led to secession and war. State board member David Bradley, R-Beaumont Buna, even won approval for a standard requiring that Texas history students learn about the state’s Confederate war heroes and Civil War battles.

Now we see the conservative magazine Human Events is promoting what it bills as a “myth-busting” book — The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Civil War. According to the magazine, the book offers “a rousing guide to the great war that shaped America — and to the spirit of the Old South that we need so much today.”

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Yet Another Historian Corrects Barton

April 15, 2010

We long ago lost count of the number of times self-styled “historian” David Barton has been caught perpetuating historical inaccuracies or outright lies. (The man is nothing if not prodigious.) But on his radio program earlier this week (audio available here), Barton delivered a doozy when discussing the Texas State Board of Education‘s revision of social studies curriculum standards. Here’s what he said as he was complaining about the efforts of civil rights groups to list Tejanos among those who fought at the Alamo during the Texas Revolution:

They [“Hispanic groups”] kept insisting that we have a quota of Hispanics. For example, one of the silly things they said was, well, we want to make sure we show the Tejano leaders at the Alamo. And we pointed out – did you know there were not any Tejano leaders at the Alamo? “Yeah, but you gotta show…” No, there was only one Tejano leader, and he left before the fighting started. He was one of the guys who crossed the line. And are you sure you want to show retreating, you know? And they didn’t even know that. But they were so insistent that they be pictured everywhere even if that group had not been there at the time something happened.

Those “silly” groups don’t know their history? Or is it Barton who is “silly” and uninformed? We asked Dr. Frank de la Teja, professor and chairman of the history department at Texas State University, to weigh in on this question. In 2007 Gov. Rick Perry appointed Dr. de la Teja to serve the first-ever two-year term as the state historian of Texas. So here’s what a real historian has to say about Barton’s claim:

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Bradley: Education Is a ‘Religious Conflict’

April 12, 2010

So says Texas State Board of Education member David Bradley. Speaking on the Internet radio program WallBuilders Live! today, the Republican from Beaumont Buna in Southeast Texas told hosts David Barton and Rick Green that “conservatives” hold only a slim majority on the state board:

“The pendulum in politics swings both ways and for the first time in many many decades we have been able to carry the debate. And it’s a value system, and it goes down to the core. It is a cultural war, and it is a religious conflict.”

Well, at least he admits it.

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More Confusion from Don McLeroy

March 26, 2010

On Thursday Don McLeroy once again had difficulty explaining why the Texas State Board of Education has made so many bone-headed decisions in overhauling social studies curriculum standards for public schools.

McLeroy, a College Station Republican who lost his bid for re-election to the board in the GOP primary earlier this month, spoke to listeners of On Point, a program produced by Boston NPR station WBUR. (Hat tip to TFN Insider reader James F for the heads-up about the show.)

McLeroy had a particularly hard time justifying why in the world the board removed Thomas Jefferson from a world history standard about Enlightenment thinkers. In fact, he suggested adding Jefferson back in to the world history standards. But along the way he inadvertently admitted spending so much time wrecking the rest of the standards document that he really didn’t realize taking Jefferson out in the first place was foolish.

“Actually, when you’re in the process of making lots of amendments, you’re busy, you’re all day long. When you have time to reflect, maybe you’ll change your vote. I think all politicians do that.”

Indeed. But isn’t this yet another example of why it’s unwise for the board’s politicians to be micromanaging the work of teachers and scholars who spent nearly a year developing the social studies standards?

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Something’s Rotten Here

February 1, 2010

In today’s Texas Tribune story about the State Board of Education‘s management of the Permanent School Fund (PSF), much of the focus has been on this inane quote from board member David Bradley, R-Beaumont Buna:

“If you sit on the mental health commission, do you have to be retarded? If you sit on the [Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission], do you have to be a drunk?”

Bradley was arguing that the board — made up mostly of non-finance types, like a dentist, lawyers, an insurance salesman and political activists — could do a fine job of managing the massive PSF. But perhaps more interesting was Bradley’s sneering criticism of the fund’s permanent professional staff. He told the Tribune that the staff simply couldn’t be trusted because those employees work for the Texas Education Agency instead of reporting to the state board:

“Staff usually works against the board. Sometimes staff can facilitate an agenda of their own.”

And what agenda would that be, Mr. Bradley? Is the professional staff you hold with such contempt interested in something more than maximizing the return on investments for a fund that benefits Texas kids and public education? If that’s what you mean, bring forth the evidence.

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Talking Points

February 1, 2010

From today’s TFN News Clips:

“If you sit on the mental health commission, do you have to be retarded? If you sit on the [Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission], do you have to be a drunk?”

— Texas State Board of Education member David Bradley, R-Beaumont Buna, arguing that state board members don’t need to be finance experts to manage the $23 billion Permanent School Fund. Really.

Stay informed with TFN News Clips, a daily digest of news about politics and the religious right. Subscribe here.

Bradley’s Charter School Scheme

November 2, 2009

Well, this is an odd twist. David Bradley — a supposed champion of the wisdom of free markets — thinks the Texas State Board of Education will do a better job than the private sector in deciding whether it’s too risky to invest in charter schools. (Of course, some board members also think they know more about science and history than scientists and historians. So are you surprised?)

An article in the Austin American-Statesman today explains that Bradley, a Republican state board member from Beaumont Buna, wants the board to consider investing part of the Permanent School Fund‘s $22 billion in facilities for charter schools. The chair of the state board’s Finance Committee and a longtime proponent of charter schools says he “would like to see if this a sector of the market that is mature enough and would offer some opportunity.”

Private investors don’t seem to think so. The Statesman points out that charter schools don’t have what investors typically look for: established financial track records, adequate cash reserves and long-term security.

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Race-Baiting

September 12, 2009

We told you at the beginning of the month how racially charged rhetoric is becoming more common in the debate over new social studies curriculum standards for Texas public schools. On Friday we saw another example of race-baiting rhetoric.

Peter Morrison, appointed by State Board of Education member David Bradley, R-BeaumontBuna, to a panel helping revise the social studies standards, appears to be especially obsessed with race. On Friday in a new issue of his e-newsletter, The Peter Morrison Report, he attacked President Obama’s speech to students earlier in the week as an attempt to “indoctrinate” them and “capture the hearts and minds of our kids.” And then he turns to his obsession:

“Obama’s speech contained plenty of propaganda, in both what was said and what was omitted. He told kids that they may face road blocks, such as discrimination. Really? It makes me wonder which kids he’s speaking to, because I’m not sure of where in America minorities are facing discrimination in employment or education. What company won’t hire non-whites? What schools won’t accept minorities? What banks makes loan decisions on skin color?”

“Obama didn’t mention the fact that he’s in favor of racial discrimination against the white students listening. He has already appointed a Supreme Court justice who is a big fan of racial preferences for non-whites and will no doubt make the problem even worse from the high court. Obama has made it clear he intends to do much, much more to expand affirmative action, racial quotas, and other anti-white discrimination.”

We have already heard far-right critics argue that the social studies standards have an “overrepresentation of minorities.” And Morrison makes it clear that we haven’t heard the last word on this.

Barbara Cargill Airs Her Hypocrisy

September 9, 2009

The flap over President Obama’s speech to students on Tuesday has exposed quite a bit of hypocrisy from the far right. Media Matters notes one big batch of hypocrisy from Texas State Board of Education member Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands.

“On NPR’s All Things Considered, host Noah Adams, introducing a report on President Obama’s September 8 speech to schoolchildren, stated that ‘some parents and conservatives … called it a political intrusion into the school day.’ But NPR did not note that one of the conservatives quoted in the report, Texas State Board of Education member Barbara Cargill, has repeatedly engaged in political intrusions into the Texas school system, seeking — sometimes successfully — to change Texas schools’ curriculum to fit her conservative ideology.”

Cargill protested to NPR that the Obama administation had bypassed state and local school boards by sending notices of the speech directly to schools. She said that put schools in a difficult position, forcing them to anger some parents if they let students hear the speech and others if they didn’t. She also worried about students:

“If they (parents) opt their children out, they’re going to feel ostracized. They’re going to have to leave the comfort of their classroom to be dismissed to a gym.”

Please. That’s really weak sauce. Has anyone ever known students who were upset because they had to leave “the comfort of their classrom” to go to the gym or pretty much anywhere else? Is that the best reason Cargill has?

In any case, Cargill and other right-wingers complained that President Obama would “politicize” our children’s classrooms (which, of course, didn’t happen). But Media Matters points out the many ways that Cargill has done just that in her position as a State Board of Education member, especially during the process of revising science curriculum standards for Texas public schools.

Remember when some folks thought Cargill would be a more moderate replacement for Don McLeroy as state board chair last spring? Hardly.

Read the full Media Matters piece and listen to the NPR interview here.

UPDATE: Talking Points Memo notes that another Texas State Board of Education member, David Bradley, R-BeaumontBuna, complained about President Obama’s speech despite his own history of politicizing the education of Texas schoolchildren.