GOP Voters Oust Key Conservative from Texas Ed. Board

By Erik W. Robelen — March 04, 2010 1 min read
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Although most national attention on the Texas primary is focusing on incumbent Gov. Rick Perry’s win, the results will spark some changes on the state board of education. But not soon enough to affect final action later this spring on revising the state’s social studies standards, which have sparked a lot of controversy.

Don McLeroy, seen as a key leader of a Christian conservative bloc on the board, was defeated by Thomas Ratliff, a moderate Republican. With no Democrat and one Libertarian on the ballot this fall, Ratliff is virtually assured of the post, reports the Dallas Morning News.

“Ratliff’s campaign was based in part on reducing the influence of the board’s social conservative bloc,” the Morning News says. “But McLeroy and his allies will hold seven votes on the 15-member board through the end of the year, with history and social studies standards on the agenda.

McLeroy has said he will offer several more amendments when the board gets back to work on the social studies standards next week. New members won’t be seated until January.

Republican board member David Bradley, an ally of McLeroy, told the Dallas Morning News that the board already has approved revised English and science standards with considerable influence exerted by social conservative members. He said the current board has had an impact on schools that will last several years, an influence felt in many other states that use textbooks and learning materials developed for Texas based on its curriculum standards.

Meanwhile, a second member of the social conservative bloc at the state school board, Ken Mercer of San Antonio, successfully fended off a Republican challenger. And the departure of a third, Cynthia Dunbar, from that bloc has produced a runoff between “educator Marsha Farney and conservative Brian Russell,” the Associated Press reports.

Finally, one of the board’s more moderate Republicans, Geraldine Miller, lost her bid in the primary to keep a board seat she’s held since 1994. But little is known about her challenger, Dallas English teacher George Clayton, the AP says.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.