The premise of this story is good and useful. Unfortunately, the execution falls short.
Conservatives and moderates get a rare opportunity this year to try to stack the State Board of Education with members who will help shape public education in the way each side considers best for Texas school children.
All 15 seats are up for re-election this year due to once-a-decade redistricting to reflect population changes.
Four social conservative board members face GOP primary challenges, and four social conservative candidates are running in four separate districts now represented by moderate Republicans.
Locally, social conservative board member Terri Leo, R-Spring, is retiring and likely will be replaced by another social conservative – Donna Bahorich, of Houston, who is running unopposed in the GOP primary for Leo’s District 6 seat. Three Democrats are running for their party’s nomination, but will run uphill in the Republican district.
Board Chairman Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, also a social conservative, is being challenged in the GOP primary by educator Linda Ellis, also from the Woodlands.
Longtime social conservative leader David Bradley, R-Beaumont, faces a serious primary challenge from Rita Ashley, also of Beaumont. Ashley has served as the House Public Education committee clerk.
And that’s pretty much all you get. Maybe I expect too much of these stories, especially when they cover multiple races and candidates. It sure seems to me, however, that a couple of primary battles between hardline conservatives who have been very much on the front lines of the culture wars and more traditional Republicans who actually value public education and want to get stuff done seems to me to be a worthwhile thing to explore in some depth. A quote or two from incumbents Cargill and Bradley, and challengers Ellis and Ashley, would have been nice. Noting that Ashley worked for Sen. Tommy Williams and Rep. Rob Eissler, claims Williams and Rep. Allen Ritter as supporters, and has the ParentPAC endorsement would have been nice, too. Listen to what Linda Ellis has to say if you want some contrast:
I’ve dedicated my life to the students and schools of Texas.
Throughout my 28 years as a Texas educator, while working in the schools and classrooms alongside teachers, I’ve always focused on two things: what’s best for students and helping teachers implement best practices in their classrooms.
That’s why, over the past decade, I’ve watched in horror as ideologues took over the State Board of Education and used it as a platform to politically divide our citizens while at the same time ramming their personal beliefs down the throats of Texas students.
With blatant disrespect for educational experts and ignoring local voices, these ideologues have systematically dismantled our state’s once great public school system and turned Texas public schools into material for comedians on late night TV.
They have done everything possible to demean our teachers and demoralize our students.
They are trying to create a new state. A divided state.
They must be stopped.
Now look at what Barbara Cargill is talking about. If there’s not a story in that, I don’t know where you’d find one. Unfortunately, where you won’t find one is in this Chron article, and more’s the pity for it. As for Ashley, her race against Bradley is more of a traditional intra-party pissing contest – see here and here for some less-than-high-minded exchanges – but Bradley has a higher profile than Cargill and is a bit of a bully besides. It’s possible that this primary could be a political career-ender for not one but two Bradleys, which would also be a hell of a story. I don’t think I’ve ever been this interested in the outcome of a couple of GOP primary races, that’s for sure.
Anyway. KHOU has a collection of videos made by area candidates for SBOE, which I found via TFN Insider. The winner in SBOE8 faces a Democratic opponent – Dexter Smith has been the more active candidate of the two running and has garnered most of the endorsements of which I am aware – and while there is no GOP primary in SBOE6 there is a three-way Democratic race for that nomination. I interviewed all three candidates early on in the cycle. Get to know your SBOE candidates so that when they meet next year and begin work on the next textbook or curriculum review you’ll know what to expect.