Sunday, October 21, 2012

It's important. Parrott for SBOE District 12

It's tempting to think that votes in many parts of North Texas don't matter. The Republican candidates are bound to win locally. But I am going to argue that those in the 12th district for the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) need to take this election very seriously. Note that district boundaries have been redrawn, so you may not know which district you are in.

I particularly exhort my Republican friends to not just vote party line here.Texas State Board of Education If you are worried about the extremist influences in your party, and more importantly if you care about the kind of education we have in Texas, this is where you need to draw a line.

I do not actually know very much about Lois Parrott other than what I've been reading over the past weeks. I haven't spoken with people who have worked with her. My support for Ms Parrott is based substantially on the fact that she has stated unambiguously that she opposes the Religious Rights' attempted take-over of school textbooks and curricula in Texas.

Miller has abandoned reason and the center

I've (mildly) supported her opponent, Tincy Miller, in the past, and so I need to explain why I am now unequivocally opposing Ms Miller. Tincy Miller, as the the Republican candidate will still probably win (although the 12th district also contains substantial parts of Dallas County, so there is still a fighting chance for a Democrat). Miller's experienced, and has been reasonably professional. In her previous terms she's been an odd sort of swing vote between the radical Creationist and anti-Historical faction and the professional faction. I would have preferred someone who did more to stand up to the people who make Texas a laughing stock of around the world, but I also had a certain admiration for the non-ideological, pragmatic, "good governance" Republicans that I found when I first moved to Texas seven years ago.

But pragmatic, consensual Republicans have been getting turfed out. They either get replaced by people on the Radical Right or they move dramatically to the right themselves. Miller has done the latter. I held my nose (and my tongue) as Miller courted endorsements from the Texas Eagle Forum and other very conservative groups during her primary battle with fiercely anti-intellectual the Tea Party candidate, Gail ("Pilgrims were Commies") Spurlock. I had hoped that Miller would move back to the pragmatic center after she had the GOP nomination. This has not happened.

In a recent candidate's forum (full video hosted by the Richard League of Women Voters), Miller has stated (incorrectly) that scientists agree that Creationism and Intelligent Design should be taught along with natural selection. Miller also stated some sort of endorsement for school-led prayer. She has refused to respond to the Texas Freedom Network's questionnaire.

You don't have to be on the left to fear the right-wing take over of the SBOE

Miller is displaying her unwillingness to stand up to the faction that have tried to remove Thomas Jefferson as an enlightenment thinker from textbooks, Deleting history tfn that have wanted to teach the bizarre historical theories of the discredited David Barton, that have fought at every opportunity to undermine teaching of the most fundamental principle in the biological sciences, which has led to them refusing to rely on educational and subject matter experts. This faction has not just made the Texas a laughing stock of the nation, but also of the world. The same world in which our children will be living, working, and studying.

In the past, Miller has been erratic in standing up to that faction; but over the past four months she's been signaling that she will be joining them (possibly giving then an outright majority on the board). So while Parrott may be to the left of most of the voters in the 12th District, this isn't about left/right; it is about sanity versus the ridiculous. Miller has done everything she can to indicate that she will not challenge the ridiculous.

Your vote will matter

Now I don't know whether Miller's shift reflects her genuine convictions, fear of future primary battles from the right, or a look toward an expanded political career. Either way, she shouldn't be on the board, and if she does end up on the board she should be reminded by a strong showing for Parrott that there are voters who will not tolerate an anti-intellectual ideological and deeply embarrassing and destructive board of education.