Archive for the ‘Terri Leo’ 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.)


Leo-Backed SBOE Candidate Gets Boost

December 14, 2011

Texas State Board of Education member Terri Leo’s hand-picked replacement might have a smooth path to the Republican nomination for that Houston-area seat next year.

Leo, one of the board’s most extreme right-wing members, on Monday said she would not seek re-election to the board. She instead endorsed Republican Donna Bahorich of Houston in next year’s election. Susan Kellner, president of the Spring Branch Independent School District Board of Trustees, had been preparing to challenge Leo for the GOP nomination. Today Kellner told the Austin-based political news website Quorum Report (subscription required) that she would not run and could support Bahorich:

“Terri Leo needed to go. She has failed on all fronts, and she was an embarrassment to public education in Texas. She’s mismanaged the Permanent School Fund. She’s created curriculum standards that are confusing for teachers, students and families. We need to get Texas public education back on track.”

Quorum Report notes that it had been clear for months that Kellner wanted to run against Leo:

Kellner … has been dogging eight-year incumbent Terri Leo’s steps for months, conspicuously attending State Board of Education meetings and typically sitting prominently in the audience where Leo could not help but see her.

On Friday, Kellner filed a campaign treasurer’s report, signaling her intent to run against Leo in State Board of Education District 6. On Monday, Leo threw in the towel, saying she could do so with a clear conscience because she had found a suitable conservative to replace her on the board.

Leo made clear in her Monday press release that she believes Bahorich will stick to a hard-right political agenda on the state board. That includes support for an abstinence-only approach to sex education in a state that has received more federal abstinence-only funding than any other state yet has the nation’s third-highest teen birth rate.

Teacher and Democrat Patty Quintana-Nilsson of Houston is also seeking Leo’s District 6 seat on the state board. (Bahorich does not have a campaign website yet.)

You can find a listing of candidates and other information on TFN’s special SBOE election watch web page here.

Another History FAIL from Leo, Barton

December 13, 2011

Terri Leo and her colleagues on the Texas State Board of Education have spent years trying to promote their own distorted and politicized versions of American history in our public schools. So it shouldn’t be too surprising that Leo got her history wrong yet again in yesterday’s announcement that she will not seek re-election in 2012.

Leo, R-Spring, endorsed Donna Bahorich, R-Houston, as her replacement on the board. Toward the end of that endorsement, Leo wrote:

Donna understands fully what Abraham Lincoln meant when he said, “The philosophy of the schoolroom in one generation will be the philosophy of the government in the next.”

Except Lincoln quite likely didn’t say that.

In fact, it’s just one of many “unconfirmed” quotations that the far right’s favorite phony “historian,” David Barton, once attributed to famous Americans in his own work. After years of criticism, Barton felt compelled in 2000 to acknowledge that he has no evidence those quotes were ever uttered. (Yet Leo’s far-right  colleagues on the state board appointed Barton as an “expert” adviser on the social studies curriculum revision in 2009-10 even though he is mostly a political propagandist with no formal academic training in the social sciences.)

Despite his admission of error, Barton’s zombie quotations live on, eating their way into our nation’s civil and political discourse.


Leo Calls It Quits

December 12, 2011

Another day, another major shake-up at the State Board of Education.

Incumbent Terri Leo, R-Spring, made a surprise announcement this morning that she will not seek re-election to the seat she has held since 2002.

During her tenure on the state board, Leo has been a major ringleader of the far-right faction. She has not shied away from being a mouthpiece for radical ideas — both during meetings and in the press. A round-up of Leo’s low-lights during her tenure on the board can be found here and here.

Her press release appears in full below.


DATE:  Dec 12, 2011

CONTACT: Terri Leo


It has been a great honor to serve you and the children of Texas as your conservative representative on the State Board of Education, District 6. My concerns, both as a public school teacher and as a mother, led me to make the sacrifices required to serve on the SBOE.

What an awesome opportunity and responsibility you have given me over the years. I want to thank all of you who have sacrificed with me to ensure that the District 6 seat has a conservative voice on the State Board of Education.

Those of you who know my passion for this office know that I would not step down from this seat unless I had complete confidence in someone else to take my place — someone who shares my same passion for quality and excellence in public education.  I have found such an individual in Donna Bahorich, and it is with great enthusiasm that I wholeheartedly endorse Donna for the State Board of Education, District 6.

Textbook adoptions are always a critical concern. Because of Texas’ prominent place in textbook adoption and educational policy, not only are our Texas children affected by the SBOE’s decisions; but also students throughout the nation are impacted.

Donna Bahorich will uphold conservative ideals in order to provide teachers and students with error-free and academically sound instructional materials.

Donna will resist efforts to lower academic expectations. She will work tirelessly to develop state curriculum standards that are concise, measurable, and rigorous so that our Texas students are ready for college and/or the workplace.

Donna Bahorich will only vote for Health textbooks that uphold traditional definitions of marriage and family and that are abstinence-based.

Donna Bahorich will make sure History curriculum standards are maintained that emphasize patriotism, our Founding Fathers, the free enterprise system, the U.S. Constitution, and American exceptionalism.

A strong conservative voice in the State Board of Education’s management of the multi-billion-dollar Permanent School Fund will always be essential.  Donna will vote consistently for traditional, conservative values in these decisions as well. The children of Texas deserve to have sound investments protecting their Permanent School Fund because these dollars ensure there will be future funding for instructional materials.  Donna will work diligently to keep the PSF from being diverted to other uses.

Because Donna has worked closely for years with members of the Legislature, she will know how to keep the lines of communication open between the SBOE and other elected officials. This is essential so that students’ best interests are served.

I can leave my SBOE seat at the end of my term (December 2012) knowing that Donna Bahorich will be able to step seamlessly into position.  Donna understands fully what Abraham Lincoln meant when he said, “The philosophy of the schoolroom in one generation will be the philosophy of the government in the next.”  Donna is capable, equipped, committed, and passionate about the future of our Texas public school students.  Donna Bahorich is fully ready to serve as a member of the Texas State Board of Education, District 6.

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…)

An Appeal for Hope

October 15, 2010

The research compiled by the Texas School Safety Center at Texas State University in San Marcos is heartbreaking: since 2004, at least six Texas teens have been so tormented by bullying and  abuse at school that they have taken their own lives. Another attempted suicide by jumping from a  two-and-a-half-story balcony.

Some of the students were gay or lesbian (or perceived to be their tormentors). Others weren’t. One Rockdale student shot herself after constant bullying over her weight and physical appearance. A transgender teen from the same town hung herself just the next month. A high school student in Cleburne, harassed repeatedly because of facial scars and a hearing impairment, was reportedly told: “If I had a face like yours, I’d shoot myself.” He went home and did just that.

Today more and more adults are standing up to say, “Enough.” They are calling on lawmakers to pass anti-bullying legislation that helps protect all children from this abuse. And they are appealing to young people — gay and straight — to keep the hope that life gets better. We were especially moved by this video of an openly gay Fort Worth City Council member, Joel Burns, speaking at a council meeting earlier this week.

Religious-right groups continue to oppose legislation that would help protect young people from bullying and abuse. They claim such legislation “promotes homosexuality” to kids.

Some elected officials even encourage schools to stigmatize gay and lesbian children. In 2004, Texas State Board of Education member Terri Leo, R-Spring, insisted that middle school health textbooks portray gay people as “more prone to self-destructive behaviors like depression, illegal drug use, and suicide.” Fortunately, textbook publishers refused to obey her demand. This year, when state board members revised social studies curriculum standards, another board member — Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands — bizarrely interpreted a particular standard for the high school sociology course as somehow promoting homosexuality and transgenderism. She succeeded in removing the standard.

Texas children deserve far better than politicians promoting their own divisive personal agendas instead of ensuring that schools provide a sound education and protect their students from abuse.

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.


Mercer Flunks the Truth Test (Again)

February 12, 2010

Let’s not beat around the bush. Texas State Board of Education member Ken Mercer, R-San Antonio, has problems with the truth. During yesterday’s debate with his District 5 opponent in the March 2 Republican Primary, Tim Tuggey of Austin, Mercer once again mischaracterized the facts about the social studies curriculum writing teams and how those teams were put together:


Editorial Roundup: Ignorance and the SBOE

January 29, 2010

Especially over the last week, editorial boards at newspapers across Texas have been focusing on the corrosive politics, blind ignorance and rampant incompetence evident on the State Board of Education. Editorial writers are heaping criticism on state board members who are once again wrecking the work of educators and scholars in crafting new curriculum standards — this time for social studies classrooms in the state’s public schools.

The dismay of San Antonio-Express News editorial writers, for example, was crystal clear today as they explained the state board’s outrageously misinformed decision this month to remove from the social studies standards the author of a popular children’s book, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? Apparently, board member Terri Leo, R-Spring, had conducted a quick Internet search for the author’s name, Bill Martin, and mistakenly reported to board colleagues that he was the same Bill Martin who had written a book about Marxism.

Board members didn’t ask for input from the curriuclum writers, teachers or scholars. They simply accepted Ms. Leo’s research as fact and voted to strip Martin’s name from the Grade 3 standards. (Did they really think curriculum writers wanted third-graders to learn about the author of a book on Marxism?) From the Express-News today:

“How could the board that oversees public education in the great state of Texas have made such a mistake? By relying on research so superficial and shoddy that it would have earned any fifth-grader a failing grade. . . . For once again demonstrating that it can’t be trusted to pass sound judgments about public school curriculum, the State Board of Education owes the people of Texas an apology.”


How Censors Think

January 27, 2010

This month’s Texas State Board of Education debate over proposed new social studies curriculum standards provided many opportunities to see censorship at work. One of the most revealing instances of this came when state board member Don McLeroy, R-College Station, proposed adding Margaret Sanger and John Dewey to a list of individuals for high school American history students to study.


Who Does Terri Leo Think She’s Fooling?

November 4, 2009

One thing you can say about Texas State Board of Education member Terri Leo: she can say the most absurd things with a straight face. In an article published by a conservative Web site, East Texas Review, Leo claims “conservatives” (as she defines them, anyway) are improving education standards that will help students do better on standardized tests. She notes, in particular, the board’s approval of new curriculum standards for English/language arts and reading in 2008:

“That’s why we have conservatives on the State Board of Education. . . . The conservatives took issue with our standards, and that’s why they changed.”

Oh please. Who does she think she’s fooling?


Tell the Truth, Terri Leo

October 2, 2009

Add Terri Leo to the list of irresponsible Texas State Board of Education members attacking the faith of teachers and others who are helping revise the state’s social studies curriculum standards. She’s also not telling the truth, and she knows it.


SBOE Right-Wingers in a Snit

July 17, 2009

At their meeting in Austin yesterday, far-right members of the Texas State Board of Education complained that the news media had blown out of proportion calls by conservative “expert” curriculum reviewers (appointed by those board members) to  remove liberal historical figures like Cesar Chavez and Thurgood Marshall from social studies curriculum standards.

Terri Leo, R-Spring, and her allies on the board insisted that the reviewers were only stating their opinions and that there was no organized effort to censor liberals and minorities in the standards. Ms. Leo, in fact, indignantly criticized “the media’s huge ‘knee-jerk’ reaction when this process hasn’t even started yet.”

Good grief. Ms. Leo must have selective amnesia.


Conservatism vs. Extremism

May 7, 2009

Texas State Board of Education member Terri Leo, R-Spring, apparently has decided that she is the arbiter when it comes to deciding who is a good conservative. In telling the Christian-right Web site that she opposes legislative efforts to rein in the state board’s authority, she says:

[B]ack in 2003, conservatives on the State Board of Education lost most of the battles — and we didn’t go over and whine and seek legislative go-a-rounds or end-a-rounds. You know, we just went to work and elected three more conservatives and [now] the Board is almost evenly balanced. There’s [sic] seven conservatives out of 15 board members. We do not have a majority.

Of course, Ms. Leo doesn’t acknowledge that one of those seven is the board chairman, who sets the agenda and controls the debate. Moreover, those seven have often succeeded in gathering at least one or two votes from other board members on key issues the last two years. How they have succeeded in doing so is an open question — for now.

But this sentence in Ms. Leo’s response really stands out: “There’s [sic] seven conservatives out of 15 board members.”  Just seven conservatives? Really?


What Does Terri Leo Really Want to Teach?

March 19, 2009

As we get closer to the final vote at the Texas State Board of Education on science standards next week, creationists on the board are showing their real stripes. First it was board chairman Don McLeroy, who endorsed a book equating acceptance of evolution with atheism — making clear that his primary beef with evolution is based on religious beliefs (despite repeated claims to the contrary). And now Terri Leo, R-Spring, gets in on the act.

Ms. Leo recently appeared on a Walbuilders Radio program to discuss the latest on the evolution debate at the state board. For the uninitiated, Wallbuiders is a Christian advocacy organization based in Aledo, Texas, that claims the separation of church and state is a myth. (Read TFN’s extensive profile of Wallbuilders’ founder David Barton.)

The first cat Leo let’s out of the bag is the “end game” for creationists on the board: biology textbooks. What the next generation of textbooks teach about evolution is the subtext for the entire debate on curriculum standards. Leo and her allies lacked the votes in 2003 to force publishers to include phony “weaknesses” of evolution, but now the elusive majority is in sight. Leo is blunt: