In Rick Perry’s view the Earth is flat and tilts to the right, which is why the governor, once again, has dipped into his ideological well to fill the chairman’s spot on the State Board of Education. Barbara Cargill of The Woodlands becomes the latest member of the board’s social conservative faction to receive Perry’s nod to reach out to latenight TV comedians.
First, there was “Dinosaur Don” McLeroy, who apparently believed some of the big beasts may have walked the Earth with his nottoodistant ancestors. After he failed to receive Senate confirmation in 2009, Perry replaced him with Gail Lowe, who then presided over the board’s preposterous attempt last year to rewrite history and was so thinskinned that she ejected a group of eighthgraders from a public hearing on curriculum standards after they had applauded a board critic.
Lowe also failed to win Senate confirmation. So, after lawmakers were safely out of town, Perry tried again, this time with Cargill. Assuming there are no more special sessions, Cargill will serve as board chair until the next regular session in 2013, when the Senate will have to decide whether to confirm or reject her.
“Ms. Cargill has worked since her election to the board to promote her own personal beliefs rather than facts and sound scholarship in our kids’ classrooms,” said Dan Quinn, communications director for the Texas Freedom Network, which has closely followed the State Board of Education follies.
Quinn added: “In fact, she even succeeded in censoring the scientific consensus on the age of the universe from the state’s scientific standards. And she helped politicize new social studies standards by appointing an unqualified conservative evangelical minister as a socalled ‘expert’ adviser simply because his personal ideology matched her own.”
Although no major curriculum rewrites are scheduled over the next two years, don’t underestimate the ability of the board’s conservative bloc – particularly with one of its own as chair – to stir up more political controversy and embarrassing headlines.