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Texas SBOE 10th Run-Off Between Religious Right Candidates

April 8, 2010

I’ve received two mailers for the run-off in the race for the 10th District seat on the Texas State Board of Education. The original primary race pitted three candidates, two of whom have education backgrounds and one of whom is a home-schooling lawyer. The primary vote was nearly evenly split between the three candidates. One of the educators, Marsha Farney, is now in the run-off against the home-schooling lawyer, Brian Russell.

Both mailers are from Farney. The first thing that caught my attention about both mailers was a red label affixed on or next to Farney’s picture. It says, “100% PRO-LIFE Answers” and is circled by “Texas Right to Life PAC Questionnaire.” I’d been caught off-guard by a robocall on behalf of Russell during the primary race; I posted the audio of the call on my youtube Linux-related account. It had been done by Texas Alliance for Life PAC, noting Russell was the only one of the candidates to score 100%.

Now, what does abortion have to do with our SBOE? As many people around the country are finding out, Texas holds a lot of clout with book publishers and our current SBOE has seen fit to adjust the curriculum for science and history to accommodate the prevailing views of its members; currently, the SBOE is ruled by a bloc of Religious Right fanatics. Education is taking a backseat to partisan politics, and this includes health education.

The Religious Right/pro-life people are continuing to try to stack the deck to continue and expand the revisions they’ve made to the curriculum. Brian Russell is the hand-picked successor to current SBOE chair Cynthia Dunbar.

I was hoping Farney would give GOP primary voters — yes, I am one of them — a significantly different choice over the Religious Right for the run-off. The two flyers with the red “certified pro-life” label don’t give me such assurance. Neither do other things I’ve read in the past couple days, including the claim by the Democrat either Farney or Russell will face in November that Farney introduces herself at gatherings by saying, “The first thing you need to know about me is that I’m a Christian.”

Here is the front side of the second mailer. It was the larger of the two pieces. (The close up of the picture is located below.)

The inside folds out into a comparison chart. It was too large to do in one scan, and I apologize for not editing the two halves together. I haven’t had time to put this together the way I want. It would’ve been a lot more helpful if the Farney campaign put its mailers on the website like it has the tv and radio ads. I kind of wish she’d stuck to job qualifications rather than who’s the real Republican, but I know this is a run-off that’s only going to draw a tiny segment of the GOP primary voters and they’re most likely going to be swayed by such things.

The chart part of the following duplicates the last two rows of the table above. The relevant part is the footnotes.

Here’s the back side of the folded mailer.

And here’s a higher-resolution scan of the picture with the “100% Pro-Life” certification label.

Below is the first mailer I received. It includes endorsements and basic principles. I don’t know why candidates have to state that they believe in “protecting traditional family values,” let alone exactly what that’s supposed to mean (or to whom). Code words? Maybe. I’ll give her benefit of the doubt for now. I’d really like to know what she intends to do on the SBOE about that. I’m glad, though, that she’s for the other things: a strong curriculum, reducing drop out rates, responsibility with the school fund, and open communication. I have no doubt that her credentials make her much more suitable than her opponent.

Speaking of her opponent, she takes dead aim at him on the back of this mailer. The first point is the one that first drew me into looking at the other two opponents in the primary. If you’re not going to put your kids into the system, you don’t get to make the rules for everyone else.

I agree with the white text on red background. Brian Russell has no business sitting on the State Board of Education. The question I still have is, Do Texas public school children also deserve better than Marsha Farney?

That’s hopefully a question we’ll answer — and get right — in November.

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