Archive for the ‘Ken Mercer’ 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.)


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.

SBOE Candidate: Ken Mercer

November 7, 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).

Ken Mercer, District 5, R-San Antonio

Current Dist. 5 State Board of Education member Ken Mercer indicated this summer on his website — — that he intended to run for re-election in 2012. Mercer, a senior software engineer, is a former state representative who was first elected to the board of education in 2006.

Ken Mercer Asks for Your Help

In 2012 because of redistricting, all seats on the Texas State Board of Education will be on the ballot. Even though many of us just ran in 2010, we will be required to run again in 2012 if we intend to retain our seats.

As you know, because of my conservative leadership, I am again a target of the far left. I need your support to defend my seat.

Thank you for allowing me to represent you on the Texas State Board of Education. As always, please remember our 12- year theme of “Family, Faith and Freedom.” We want to strengthen the family, respect our faith, and defend our freedom!


Note: Mercer’s announcement was heavily redacted for the reasons outlined above. His full announcement can be found on his website.

Mercer Still Attacking Science and Teachers

October 28, 2011

How in the world did we miss this? Seems that in August, Texas State Board of Education member Ken Mercer, R-San Antonio, had some interesting things to say about science and social studies curriculum standards on a Tea Party radio program. Speaking on the San Antonio Tea Party’s Boiling Point radio show, Mercer offered much of the usual commentary we’ve come to expect from the state board’s far-right members. But some of what he said was more revealing than he probably intended.

For example, Mercer claims during the radio interview that one of his particularly goofy arguments against evolutionary science in 2009 was just a joke. But as he continues, it sounds like he really does believe that the absence of “dog-cats” and “cat-rats” makes the case against evolution:

“If your theory’s right, all these species would get together and form a new species, then where is the cat-dog or the rat-cat, whatever it be. They don’t come together. Cats go with cats, and dogs go with dogs.”


Easiest $500 Perry Ever Made

August 26, 2011

Gov. Perry, we’d like to bring an exciting money-making opportunity to your attention.

Have you ever met Ken Mercer? You might have. Mercer is the District 5 representative on the State Board of Education and, proudly, a member of that body’s far-right bloc.

Last month when the SBOE debated adoption of instructional materials in science, Mercer made a very generous offer:

You show me one (science curriculum standard) where there’s God or Jesus, intelligent design, creationism. Show me that, and I’ll give you $500.

The National Center for Science Education has video of Mercer’s offer:

Now fast forward a few weeks, where you stated unequivocally:

In Texas, we teach both creationism and evolution in our public schools — because I figure you’re smart enough to figure out which one is right.

Video here:

You and Mr. Mercer should talk about that $500 check. He doesn’t strike us as a welcher, so we’re sure he’ll hand that $500 right over.

A word of caution, though. A bunch of us fact-checked your creationism comment, and despite your assertion, we couldn’t find anything in the standards calling for creationism to be taught in public schools, probably in large part because it’s a constitutional no-no. Our guess is that Mercer doesn’t technically owe you anything. But since you’ve appointed most of Texas’ Supreme Court justices, you might be able force him to pay up, if you want to explore litigation.

Oh, and do you have the Texas Education Agency’s phone number? They need to hear about this offer, too.

Always Check Your Work, Students

December 10, 2010

Even Twitter feeds…

(Hat tip: Lee Nichols of the Austin Chronicle)

Beck: No ‘Half-Monkey, Half-Human’ Out There!

October 20, 2010

Glenn Beck on the radio today, rejecting evolutionary science (audio clip from Media Matters):

“I don’t think we came from monkeys. I think that’s ridiculous. I haven’t seen the  half-monkey, half-person yet. Did evolution just stop? … There’s no other species that is developing into half-human?”

That argument sound familiar? You might recall that Texas State Board of Education member Ken Mercer claimed during the debate over public school science curriculum standards that the lack of a “dog-cats” and “cat-rats” was proof against evolutionary science.

Mercer Backer Attacks Fulbright, Peace Corps

October 20, 2010

Just when you think you’ve heard it all, a supporter of Texas State Board of Education incumbent Ken Mercer is attacking his election opponent for having been a Fulbright scholar and a Peace Corps volunteer. Writing on the Republican website Texas GOP Vote, Sonja Harris has this to say in criticizing Rebecca Bell-Metereau, a professor at Texas State University in San Marcos:

“Bell-Metereau is a former Fulbright scholar which is a government sponsored program that promotes multiculturalism diluting American exceptionalism. She also taught English and American studies in the Peace Corp. I do not condemn these programs but point to the Left leaning agendas they provide to the participants. Peace Corp volunteer Senator Chris Dodd is quoted as saying, ‘that a great nation should send its people abroad, not to extend its power, not to intimidate its enemies,’ and of course the Peace Corp was instrumental in his role in the Senate. This is the kind of company Bell-Metereau keeps.”


A Candidate for the Texas Education Board?

September 26, 2010

“Evolution is a myth. . . . Why aren’t monkeys still evolving into humans?”

No, that’s not Ken “Dog-Cat/Cat-Rat” Mercer, the Republican State Board of Education member from San Antonio who thinks evidence against evolution is the fact that dog-cat and cat-rat mutants aren’t roaming the earth. The quote above comes from Christine O’Donnell, the Republican nominee and religious-right favorite in the U.S. Senate race in Delaware. (h/t ThinkProgress)

As show how Bill Maher notes in the clip, O’Donnell seems to think evolutionary science is based on the notion that, if you’re paying really, really close attention, you can watch monkeys become humans right before your eyes. O’Donnell would be a good fit on the current State Board of Education in Texas, yes?

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.


Lie to the Voters?

September 7, 2010

The falsehoods continue to flow in Republican efforts to shield the party’s candidates in the Texas State Board of Education elections in November. Now District 5 board incumbent Ken Mercer, a San Antonio Republican, says he won’t participate in the League of Women Voters debate set for September 28 in Austin — but he either didn’t bother to check his facts or hoped no one else would.


Why Does Ken Mercer Hate America?

June 26, 2010

We think that’s a fair question. After all, by his own reasoning, Texas State Board of Education member Ken Mercer must be an anti-American, anti-veteran leftist.

And what is that reasoning? Earlier this month the Houston Chronicle interviewed Mercer, a San Antonio Republican, about the state board’s revision of social studies curriculum standards for  public schools. Here’s what Mr. Mercer had to say about the teachers and scholars who spent last year working on drafts of the standards (drafts that Mercer and other board members then gutted with scores of detailed, ill-considered and politicized revisions):


Dishonesty about Sex Education

June 2, 2010

Community Impact News has asked Republican incumbent Ken Mercer, Democrat Rebecca Bell-Metereau and Libertarian Mark Loewe about issues important in their District 5 State Board of Education race. District 5 covers and expansive area, including parts of San Antonio, Austin and the Hill Country and even extending all the way up to Bell County. Check out the interviews here (for Mercer), here (for Bell-Metereau) and here (for Loewe). But we wanted to highlight an especially misleading response from Mercer regarding a question about sex education:

When I talk to parents in my district, they want their kids to understand the consequences of the choices. If they choose to abstain, if they choose to become sexually active, parents want kids to know the consequences. It’s called personal responsibility. What they do not want is a comprehensive, how-to class.

The complaint I’ve heard from parents is that there is an agenda to promote a how-to class, and it’s not about how to have sex; it’s about what are the consequences of your decisions. Parents and groups I talked to consider ‘comprehensive’ a code word to teach about sex in other lifestyles. They want kids to understand the consequences of their decisions: That’s what sex ed and health books are all about.

‘Comprehensive’ has been a code word for how to have sex with the opposite or same sex people, that its more of an indoctrination to other lifestyles. That’s not what parents want.

Sigh. So much misinformation and distortion in one short answer.


Pants on Fire, Ken Mercer

April 25, 2010

Maybe Texas State Board of Education member Ken Mercer, R-San Antonio, should work on controlling his temper. When you’re mad, as most of us probably heard from our mamas growing up, you often say things that, well, aren’t always completely accurate.

In an e-mail from his re-election campaign today, Mercer charges that the “major print media” is lying about the board’s revision of social studies curriculum standards.

And then Mercer defends the board by … shading the truth.


David Barton’s Contempt for Teachers

April 19, 2010

It’s not a secret that pseudo-historian David Barton has no use for the academy. Barton clearly prefers to play like he’s a historian and self-publish his amateur (and heavily politicized) opinions in tract form rather than bother with the whole peer-review process typical in real scholarship. But Barton’s scorn is not limited to college professors — occasionally he slips up and lets his contempt for classroom teachers show.

On Wallbuilders’ Live Internet radio show last Tuesday (April 13), Barton closed his program with a vicious attack on the teachers who participated on the teams that developed draft revisions of social studies curriculum standards for Texas public schools. The Texas State Board of Education essentially shredded those drafts in January and March, making scores of changes without input from classroom teachers or even scholars in the social sciences. You can listen to the full clip here, but here’s a taste of what Barton had to say: