On one hand, we have the Huckabee factor … Huckabee’s draw on hard right voters in tomorrows primary may lead anti-evolutionists to victory. On the other hand, we have the Obama factor … Obama’s draw on moderate republicans may lead to a cleansing of pernicious liberal elements from the Republican party.

Hilary Hylton has an interesting and informative piece in, of all places, Time, about tomorrow’s events in Texas. You need to know this.

Texas has a state-wide school board. This means that when it comes to textbook adoption, Texas is the largest single customer, and thus, traditionally, Texas has determined the fundamental nature of textbook production in the United States for years.

Fortunately, children nation wide are protected by the constitution even from Texans, and strong political efforts in Texas and elsewhere, including pressure on publishers, has meant that social studies and science textbooks available for adoption across the country for grade school and high school have not been as bad as they might have been had Texas conservatives succeeded in their plan to take over education nationally. For instance:

In 1995, the Texas Legislature stepped into the fray to diminish the influence the [board of education] had on textbook selection after social conservatives tried to impose their values and demands on publishers. Despite the legislature’s action, which limited the [the board] to making sure textbooks met curriculum standards and were factually accurate, [board] social conservatives have continued to press for more influence. In December, with one member of their opposition missing, the social conservatives pressed one textbook publisher to change the phrase “married partners” in a health textbook to “the lifelong union of a husband and wife.”

Socially and politically responsible forces have held the line in Texas, but only barely. But all that could change tomorrow.

Texas school districts tend to be divided by historical circumstances and politics pretty much into “Liberal” (Democratic or moderate Republican) and “Conservative” (usually Republican) flavors, with one or the other party more or less controlling outcomes in each district. (In other words, actual democracy has not yet replaced backroom bargaining politics in the Lone Star State as it has most other places in the U.S.) As a result of this, the outcome of many elections is determined in the primaries, not in the general election.

And that is tomorrow.

Moderate Republican Pat Hardy is a member of the Texas Department of Education Board, representing the 11th district. There is no Democrat running against her this year, but she is being challenged by urologist, ardent creationist, and very conservative anti-gay Republican Barney Maddox for the nomination to run for this seat. Candidate Maddox seems to be running for a single purpose only, to wipe evolution off the slate of topics in Texas schools, which would also affect textbook orientation and quality nation wide (to some degree). Maddox refuses to speak to the press or appear in public, and is not presenting any information on his views on any topic. Yet he is expected to win the primary. Holy crap. You Texans are so unbelievably stupid that it is hard to imagine.

(Texas is a place that truly, truly, sucks. The first person in the room to declare their patriotism, or their overall superiority, will usually be a Texan. But most everyone else in this country would give Texas back to Mexico in a New York minute, if asked. Do Texans know that everyone else dislikes them? Do they care? ….. but I digress…)

Down in south Texas, incumbent Democratic board member Mary Helen Berlanga faces serious opposition in the primaries from Lupe Gonzalez, creationist democrat (where else but Texas you would find many of those, I don’t know).

For over two decades, the 15-member elected board has been torn between two factions: in recent years a coalition of five Democrats and three moderate Republicans has managed to hold off efforts by the seven socially conservative Republicans to influence the board’s mission. The SBOE debate over creationism and other issues important to social conservatives on the board — sex education and religion in schools — is still contentious, but the arguments have become more sophisticated, with no outright call for the banning of evolutionary theory.

But tomorrow, this may all end, with the help of Mike Huckabee, as it turns out.

Next year the Texas State Board of Education will be writing the science curriculum standards for Texas public schoolchildren, and Huckabee may bring enough conservative fundamentalist voters to the polls on March 4 to swing the balance of power on the board to the supporters of creationism. “If Huckabee marshals the religious right in Texas, particularly in North Texas, it has profound implications for the state board,” says Kathy Miller, executive director of the Texas Freedom Network (TFN), an Austin-based advocacy group whose stated goal is to “counter the religious right” in public policy issues, particularly education.

And over the medium and long term, the Texas Republican Party could end up being even more conservative than it is now, according to some.

… Longtime Texas Republicans like Royal Masset, a former political director of the Texas Republican Party, [fears] that if moderate Republicans leave the party to support Barack Obama — and there is some local polling in major urban areas to suggest that may happen — it will reinforce the hold the social conservatives and the religious right has on the state party’s apparatus.

PZ Myers has also commented on this TIME piece.

See; Teaching Darwin: The Huckabee Factor

Related posts:

We ain’t outta Texas yet … Creationist Stacked School Board Looms on the Horizon

Texas State Board of Education May Shift to Pro Creationism

Texas Governor Rick Perry on How to Stop Being Gay … or, how I shook off my homosexuality and learned to love boy scouts….

Evolution and Creationism in Texas


  1. #1 uncle noel
    March 3, 2008

    The anti-Texas stuff is irrationally hostile. Many people here agree with you on every other point. The folks you despise here are also “Americans” so I guess you should hate yourself while you’re at it – many from other countries do. And I was going to be your Facebook Friend (sniff-sniff). – Noel in Houston

  2. #2 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    March 3, 2008

    Greg, you may need to taser me, here. I know that it seems like Texas is a creation science cesspool, but I am actually proud to say that I was a Texan at one time. In my celebration of their 176th anniversary of independence, I note that they considered public education important enough to consider its lack a grievance against the Coahuila government. The liberals there are not as shy as is nationally perceived, they just don’t have as much political power (read money) as the conservatives.

    Texas is a good place, it just needs our support right now.

    It has failed to establish any public system of education, although possessed of almost boundless resources, (the public domain,) and although it is an axiom in political science, that unless a people are educated and enlightened, it is idle to expect the continuance of civil liberty, or the capacity for self government.

  3. #3 Greg Laden
    March 3, 2008

    Noel. What, you think I don’t hate myself? WTF?

    I’ve had this same exact conversation with people from Kansas and Florida recently. I knew this conversation would happen here as well, I just didn’t know how it would start or if it would be via email or on the site.

    You’all do something absolutely moronic (like the governors you elect and shit) and then you expect the rest of us to say “Oh, those Floridians are so wise, politically.” or “Oh, those Kansans, they are a model for the rest of us.”

    You, Noel, are SUPPOSED to take my post as an insult. A deep insult! And then go and do something about it. Point out to the semi-yahoos that the full-blown yahoos are embarrassing EVERYONE.

    Do you think anybody gave me a break when my fellow Minnesotans elected Jesse The Body Ventura as governor? And that was a very good thing. The utter global embarssment of not electing a liberal Democrat was useful locally. It didn’t work, politically, but it could have (damn third parties!!!)

    I wish somebody would slam us on Pawlenty like I’m slamming you on your DOE, and like I slammed Florida on their slack-jawed local school boards, and like I slammed Kansas for whatever that was I slammed Kansas for.

    The problem with Minnesota is that everyone assumes we are by and large liberal and progressive, but in fact one out of every three life science teachers in this state is a creationist, and our governor is a big cry baby conservative dip! But it is almost impossible to embarrass a conservative here because we don’t have people out there in the rest of the country laughing at us and calling us backwards hicks.

    I’ve been to Texas and all over the south. In fact, I have a more intimate knowledge of certain areas of the deep south than you’ll ever know. In fact, I love the south. That is why I am so hard on you!

    So Noel, get with the Tough Love, and be my friend.

    Mike: I thought I recognized an East Texas tint to your accent… (Now, don’t tell me you’re from West Texas … )

  4. #4 J
    March 3, 2008

    Could you elaborate on Pawlenty? I hear his name bandied about as a VP pick.

  5. #5 Greg Laden
    March 3, 2008

    Pawlenty is the guy who staffed his cabinet with such notables as Cheri Yecke, creationist head of the education department, and his buddy Transportation Commissioner Carol Molnau, who let the bridge collapse.

    He’s had a “no new taxes” pledge that he carries out by adding fees and claiming they are not taxes, while social services and education rot in this state. The legislature passed an override of his veto of the budget the other day, recruiting a number of reasonable Republicans to vote for the override. He staged a press conference in which he acted like a complete ass, a child with a tantrum, and said he’d get back at those who defied him. By the end of the day, all the Republicans who had voted their conscience were stripped of any leadership positions they had.

    I don’t think he is VP material, though he has been suggested as a McCain running mate. He won’t be picked. He’s the guy who let the bridge fall down. Too many bad campaign ads in that one.

    Mike will chime in with a much more educated opinion on this, hopefully.

  6. #6 uncle noel
    March 3, 2008

    Not the self loathing defense! How can I hate you if you hate yourself? I’d be agreeing with you. Seriously, regionalism is obviously unfair. We are not responsible for the yahoos in our vicinity. Instead of preaching to the choir, you’re abusing it. I would have been outta here long ago if not for family, job, etc. I mean, this place is a backwater! But I’ve found other swampdwellers I enjoy being around and in my personal social world – friends, family, and many of my colleagues – conservatives are thought of as somewhat deranged: you can’t reason with them and they don’t seem to be embarrassed by being proven wrong. Actually, most of my friends moved to Austin, which is a pretty cool place even though it’s still officially in Texas. Mike above is probably from around there – Germans made central TX their own.
    I teach chemistry, but I do take advantage of our unit on the nature of science to talk about evolution and the difference between scientific theory and religious beliefs. I make sure that students know the evidence is unequivocal. But I’m not going to be able to affect School Board races in distant counties any more than you can. And I have no reason to be embarrassed by other people’s idiocy.
    I do like your blog; we have some common interests and I lived in Africa for two years in Cameroon (Peace Corp), where there are Baka people (we were told not to say “Pygmies”).

    “… intimate knowledge of certain parts of the deep south”? Which parts and how intimate? Do tell!

    Vote for Franken!

  7. #7 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    March 3, 2008

    I am not sure about more educated, but I will give it a shot. The reason that the Republicans have been gaining ground is that whenever they get backed into a corner about social issues they bring up the “T” word. “We’ll keep taxes low. Minnesotans pay too much in taxes and the Democrats will just keep raising them.”

    Minnesotans are not that much more liberal and progressive than any other place I have lived, the advantage that we had was that in the 1970’s and 1980’s the Democrats came up with an excellent property tax distribution system that really did spread the costs evenly between cities, counties and towns all over the state. It led to a rise in the personal income tax, but the resulting savings in property taxes built a solid infrastructure while the overall burden was not borne by the working class.

    Even Arne Carlson, a Republican, knew better than that. (I have inside information that he was a Democrat who only went Republican because of a party feud that left a bitter taste in his mouth. I am not naming names because I have never been able to confirm this, but the person he had this feud may have been a U.S. Vice President and candidate for president.) Carlson, at least, recognized the long-term value of funding education.

    Pawlenty has put his foot down on certain taxes, and when educators lobby him he takes the position that they can maintain their level of service by being “more efficient.” He and the Republicans balanced a budget deficit by destroying the system that had been built in the seventies and eighties. It was called the “Minnesota Miracle.” Pawlenty trampled it took away a large part of the Local Government Assistance program, shifting the burden back from income taxes to property taxes. He and the Republican Legislature had shifted the heat from themselves to local city councils.

    Pawlenty is a social conservative. He has said he will veto any embryonic stem cell research funding, confused about the recent studies at the University of Wisconsin. He thinks that we no longer need ESC research. He will continue to push for restrictive abortion laws.

    Like Greg said, when he raises taxes he calls them “user fees.” Except that the funds raised go back into the general fund and are not directed towards the specific services that would benefit the “users.”

    I have a hard time discerning the difference between Pawlenty and Texas’ Rick Perry.

    And Greg, I lived in Dallas. I had many liberal friends there. My accent is kind of weird because I grew up in Minnesota, moved to California, then to Oklahoma, then to Texas and finally back to Minnesota.

  8. #8 grieve
    March 4, 2008

    As a Texas I AM deeply insulted by this post, even though I agree with 90% of it.

    Why are you so against physical violence, and yet so willing to be abusive of others with your language? Is that not a form of violence?

  9. #9 uncle noel
    March 4, 2008

    Good point, grieve. Mr. Laden owes us an apology.

  10. #10 Greg Laden
    March 4, 2008

    Grieve and Uncle Noel: I refer you to this:


    Please try not to add to the perception that Texans need everything said twice to really get it!!!! 🙂

  11. #11 the real cmf
    March 4, 2008

    “Why are you so against physical violence, and yet so willing to be abusive of others with your language? Is that not a form of violence?”

    Why do we conflate the meaning of violence to include words? That reeks of PC liberalism, and outdated thinking.

    A better research question might be: why can’t some people handle their emotional baggage in discussions, and equate strong feelings that are provoked through ‘thought’ with violence?

  12. #12 uncle noel
    March 4, 2008

    cmf, Fuck you! See? Language that is intended to be threatening or hurtful is violence. Mr. Laden was just trying to light a fire under our lazy asses. But even if most Texans were deserving of abuse, not all are. Again, regionalism is irrational. I am not any more responsible for the idiots who occupy my state than yall (note spelling) are. I do not need to read your words twice, Greg; claiming to hate yourself does not excuse you from the responsibility for being hateful to others. But I guess I’ll have to accept your emoticon as evidence of good intentions. When the posse shows up just tell them I said to call off the necktie party. Where did you get the idea that liberal Texans would claim Texas is a model state? Sheesh, like it’s not bad enough that I have to live with hicks; I also have to put up with Harvard boys telling me it’s my fault?

  13. #13 the real cmf
    March 5, 2008

    Unca noel: sorry, but you will have to better to get a rise outa’ me (note spelling) I am from the big city, where fuck you is a greeting…

    Language is not violence, no matter how far the PC try to make it so. Unlike the old argument “guns don’t kill people…” words are different because they are not physical acts.There are only two sides of the words are violence equation: those who speak, and those who will do violence to a speaker, and the later is always a bully, or a politic of bullies, whereas the former is always someone with an idea to express.

    Whereas there is the concept of fighting words ” I will kill you if you say that again” there is also the concept of free speech and its parameters, all decided under the Constitution.

    I am sure there is a correlation between ones education and how many words it takes before one considers a word to be like a fist: in the South, it takes about four to five words, whereas in the North about six or seven before a fight breaks out amongst the ignorant…

    Like Haubrich said above, and came near to explaining ( re: T word) the Republicans are the party of violence, yet the Dems are only slightly different in that if you disagree with their doctrine, they will jail you, spy on you–spying is a different act than mere voyeurism, but both can be proven to lead to violence–beat you–on the local level, the average bar fight for instance, disrupt your rights and freedoms as they are doing in issues of public protests, or send your kids to Iraq .The dems are little different as a rule when it comes to waging domestic violence, and the Pubs jst do it on a more grandly designed scale.

    No, it’s not your fault Noel, that you chose to live amongst the hicks–but go forth and multiply your liberal doctrine amongst them, and don’t be afraid to speak–that is how ideas spread…

  14. #14 Greg Laden
    March 5, 2008

    Where did you get the idea that liberal Texans would claim Texas is a model state? Sheesh, like it’s not bad enough that I have to live with hicks; I also have to put up with Harvard boys telling me it’s my fault?

    Well, I’m sure it is your fault, but no matter, you Liberal Texan Cowpokes (and I use the word poke as a metaphor, I’m sure) have in the end pulled our nuts out of the proverbial fire. Good job! You have regained the trust and admiration of everyone east of the Alamo.

    (Or should I not mention the Alamo…..)

  15. #15 uncle noel
    March 7, 2008

    We’re taught that the Alamo was a great moral victory for Texas. But I wasn’t responsible for that, either.