Archive for the ‘Gail Lowe’ 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.)

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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.

2011 Lege Wrap Up: No Mo’ Lowe

July 7, 2011

The frustration of Texas legislators with the State Board of Education‘s continuing efforts to drag public schools into the culture wars was so high that the confirmation of Gov. Rick Perry’s appointment of Gail Lowe, R-Lampasas, to another term as board chair this year never made it to the Senate floor. In fact, the Senate Nominations Committee didn’t even bother to hold a public hearing.

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No Mo’ Lowe?

May 26, 2011

It looks likely that Gail Lowe, who presided over the Texas State Board of Education‘s social studies curriculum debacle last year, has only days left in her tenure as board chair. From the Houston Chronicle:

Gov. Rick Perry’s appointments of John Bradley as head of the Forensic Science Commission and Gaile Lowe as State Board of Education chair are officially toast, Senate Nominations Chairman Bob Deuell, R-Greenville said.

“They’re sine die with the rest of us — except they won’t have to come back for a special session,” Deuell said Wednesday after submitting his last round of Perry appointees for Senate consideration.

That’s two strikes for Gov. Perry, whose last two appointments to chair the state board have been so politically extreme that the Senate has refused to confirm them. The governor appointed Lowe in 2009 to replace his previous appointee, Don McLeroy, R-College Station. McLeroy failed to win Senate confirmation as board chair after he led efforts to dumb down the public school science curriculum with anti-evolution dogma.

Supporters of Lowe and McLeroy claim that the two have been victims of Senate politics. That’s nonsense, of course. Truth is, both have been victims of their own obsession with pushing personal and political agendas in public school classrooms.

Barring an unlikely, last-minute Senate reprieve for Lowe, Gov. Perry must appoint a new chair. Will that be a third strike? Or will he finally appoint someone who puts the education of Texas schoolchildren ahead of politics? It’s possible that we won’t know the answer to that until July, when the state board is scheduled to meet next.

Creationists Appointed to Science Review Panels

May 13, 2011

The Texas Education Agency just released the full list of members serving on the science review panels that will evaluate instructional materials submitted for approval by the State Board of Education (SBOE). As TFN predicted earlier this spring, the review panel for biology includes a number of individuals with a history of promoting intelligent design/creationism or advocating the teaching of phony “weaknesses” of evolution in science classes.

Last month the Texas Freedom Network and the National Center for Science Education identified proposed materials from one vendor, New Mexico-based International Databases, that promote intelligent design/creationism as real science. Now evolution deniers on the review teams will likely use their positions as a podium to promote the same flawed arguments.

Read TFN’s press release here.

A preliminary analysis by TFN of the biology review panel identified at least three anti-evolution activists: (more…)

Gail Lowe’s Anti-Science Crusade II

March 29, 2011

Last week we looked at the anti-evolution activists Texas State Board of Education Chairwoman Gail Lowe wants on official teams that later this spring will review proposed science instructional materials for Texas public schools. But Lowe has been pushing her anti-science crusade for years now.

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Gail Lowe’s Anti-Science Crusade

March 25, 2011

Even as Gail Lowe tries desperately to save her nomination to another term as chair of the Texas State Board of Education, she’s demonstrating precisely why so many state senators are hesitant to confirm her. Her nominees to panels that will review science instructional materials this year show that she’s more interested in promoting her personal beliefs than in basing what public school students learn on facts and sound scholarship.

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Sen. Deuell: Lowe Unlikely to Be Confirmed

March 11, 2011

It is looking like the tenure of Gail Lowe, R-Lampasas, as chairwoman of the Texas State Board of Education is in deep trouble.

Earlier today, state Sen. Bob Deuell, R-Greenville, the chair of the Senate Nominations Committee, told the Texas Tribune that while Lowe could survive a hearing in the nominations committee, she is not likely to have enough votes to be confirmed by the full Senate. Sen. Deuell said to the Tribune:

“Why go through a committee meeting, which can be uncomfortable, if she doesn’t have enough votes to be confirmed?”

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Gail Lowe’s Leadership Questioned

March 3, 2011

In a piece that appeared in today’s San Antonio Express-News, columnist Veronica Flores-Paniagua brings up some points about State Board of Education (SBOE) Chairwoman Gail Lowe’s leadership — or, rather, lack thereof — that may not have gotten as much attention as the larger fight over the controversial social studies adoption process of last year. But those points certainly deserve revisiting given that Gov. Perry wants to give Lowe another term as board chair

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Lowe Confirmation in Trouble?

February 21, 2011

Could it be that last week’s scathing indictment on Texas social studies curriculum standards by a conservative think tank will also be seen as an indictment on the leadership of current SBOE chairwoman Gail Lowe? It’s looking that way as legislators — including one who sits on the committee that will consider her re-nomination later in the legislative session — have begun to respond to the latest black eye on the Texas educational system.

In a letter to the Senate Nominations Committee, State Rep. and Chairman of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, noted that the Fordham Institute gave the standards a grade of “D” for their “politicized distortion” of everything from the role slavery played in the in the Civil War, to the separation of church and state.

From Martinez Fischer:

As you know, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative policy center dedicated to conducting research on educational standards throughout the United States, has found that the Texas social studies curriculum is inadequate, inaccurate, and partisan.

The same day Martinez Fischer sent another letter, this one to Lowe, asking her to reevaluate the standards. Martinez Fischer was nice enough to copy the Nominations Committee on his letter to Lowe .

In his letter to Lowe, Martinez Fischer asks the chairwoman to “do right by Texas by reevaluating the curriculum.” So far, Lowe isn’t budging, which isn’t winning her any more fans on the Nominations Committee. Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, told the Houston Chronicle:

I don’t oppose Ms. Lowe because of what she believes or what I believe. I oppose her because she’s left this very important board with so little credibility that even some conservative groups are all-but flunking it.

Whether Lowe remains chairwoman is yet to be determined. But what is certain is that the Fordham Institute’s criticisms revived the outrage over the shenanigans at the SBOE. And Lowe’s stubborn, unflinching support of the now universally decried “D”-grade social studies standards may earn the chairwoman an “F” and cost her the chairmanship.

Lowe Reappointed as TX SBOE Chair

February 1, 2011

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has reappointed Gail Lowe, R-Lampasas, as chair of the State Board of Education. Her appointment is subject to confirmation by the Texas Senate.

The Senate refused to confirm Lowe’s immediate predecessor, Don McLeroy, as chair in 2009. McLeroy had been one of the leading “culture warriors” on the board. During his tenure as board chair, the state board was a divisive battleground on issues ranging from curriculum standards for language arts and science to the adoption of math textbooks.

A close political ally of McLeroy’s, Lowe has almost always voted with the board’s far-right faction. Last year Lowe supported that faction’s successful efforts to promote right-wing icons and causes in new social studies curriculum standards. Among the most alarming changes in the new standards is the suggestion that the nation’s founders never intended to keep keep religion and government separate nor to prevent government from choosing to promote one religion over all others. The new standards also attempt to justify McCarthyism in the 1950s, elevate the status of former Confederate President Jefferson Davis’ ideas and Confederate war heroes, and suggest that participation in international treaties and organizations is bad for America.

Lowe became chair in July 2009. Because the Legislature was not in session, Lowe’s appointment was not subject to Senate confirmation at the time. Now, however, the Senate must confirm her appointment before the end of the current legislative session in May.

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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Gail Lowe: Putting Politics Over Education

September 21, 2010

Gail Lowe, chair of the Texas State Board of Education, is making the rounds promoting the state’s new social studies curriculum standards. And she’s making clear the political agenda she and other far-right board members are promoting in those standards:

“Our country was founded on religious principles … and our students will know that. . . . I think the [Founding Fathers] fully intended that our government would not separate church and state.”

We’re curious. At what point while editing your weekly newspaper, Ms. Lowe, did you decide you know more about the Constitution than the United States Supreme Court or know more about the intentions of the Founders than scholars who have spent their careers researching our nation’s history?

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Gov. Perry Gives Parents the Silent Treatment

June 18, 2010

The usually voluble Gov. Rick Perry has made essentially no public comment about how the far-right wing of the Texas State Board Education engineered a now nationally infamous rewrite of social studies curriculum standards in May. We believe the governor’s silence represents a fundamental failure of accountability to Texas parents.

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Propaganda vs. Truth

May 3, 2010

The right-wing propaganda machine has kicked into high gear over the past two weeks in defense of the State Board of Education‘s mutilation of proposed new social studies curriculum standards for Texas public schools. A blizzard of press releases, blog posts and viral e-mails have claimed that the “liberal media” has unfairly criticized the board’s politicization of the standards.

But that propaganda gets even basic facts wrong about what the state board is doing. Today’s example is a post on the conservative Lone Star Times that repeats board Chairwoman Gail Lowe‘s absurd defense of the board’s treatment of Thomas Jefferson in the standards.

The post quotes Lowe as justifying the removal of Jefferson from a key world history standard on Enlightenment thinkers, claiming that Jefferson was not, in fact, an Enlightenment philosopher. As we noted in March, Ed Countryman — a highly respected historian at Southern Methodist University — has blown that absurd claim out of the water: “There is absolutely no question that Jefferson is an Enlightenment figure of the first order.”

“Liberals,” the Lone Star post says anyway, “continue to stir up outrage by twisting and misrepresenting the facts.”

Really? It seems to us that the board’s misguided defenders are the ones pushing ridiculous falsehoods. At least the board’s critics are listening to scholars and others who actually know what they’re talking about.