Some education supporters may have breathed a little easier this spring when Marsha Farney of Georgetown, a former teacher and school counselor, defeated Brian Russell for the Republican nomination for the District 10 seat on the State Board of Education.
Russell clearly was a rightwinger, eager to join in the ideological mayhem that ultraconservative board members have been inflicting on the public schools for the past several years. He even had been endorsed by incumbent Cynthia Dunbar, who is stepping down from the board after being an outspoken leader of the rightwing pack.
Farney, however, remained something of a mystery, at least until recently. On her webpage, she promises to work for a strong curriculum and quality education, but that doesn’t tell us very much. She declined to respond to a candidate questionnaire from TSTA, which is supporting Democratic nominee Judy Jennings in the district, which stretches from north Austin to the Houston suburbs.
TSTA believes Jennings, a former employee of the Texas Education Agency and longtime worker in the education field, is a strong supporter of the public schools.
Now, teachers, parents and other Texas taxpayers who would like to see the State Board of Education work to improve the public schools rather than promote political viewpoints have even more reason to be leery of Farney.
According to an item in the Austin AmericanStatesman, now making the rounds of the blogosphere, Farney showed up at Tea Party rally on July 4, where she told the conservative crowd that she would rather be there “than with those Americabashing Democrats.”
Sounds like the message Cynthia Dunbar and the other ultraconservatives on the SBOE have been dishing out for quite a while now. And, it sure sounds more ideological than educational.