Texas State Representative Don McLeroy (R-College Station) narrowly lost his bid on May 28 to retain his position as chairman of the State Board of Education. The 19-11 vote, which ran strictly along party lines, failed the two-thirds majority required for the nomination to pass.
Opponents of McLeroy cited his creationist viewpoint as a leading factor in the vote, while defenders, such as Senator Steve Ogden (R-Bryan) stated, “It is not fair to say that if you don’t believe Darwin’s theory of evolution or accept the argument that global warming is occurring, that you should not be on the State Board of Education.”1
McLeroy had pushed to keep the “strengths and weaknesses” language in the Texas state science curriculum earlier this year to allow teachers and students to examine all aspects of scientific theories such as evolution, while evolution proponents wanted the word “weaknesses” dropped. The term was removed, but the board passed a new set of standards that will require students to “analyze, evaluate, and critique scientific explanations by using empirical evidence, logical reasoning, and experimental observation and testing, including examining all sides of scientific evidence of those explanations.”2 This move to empower and challenge students’ critical thinking upset evolutionists, who called the language “code that gives creationists a green light to attack biology textbooks.”3
Though the vote failed to reach the majority requirement, the fact that 19 out of 30 representatives voted in support of McLeroy clearly shows that Texans know what they want in public science education: to follow the evidence where it leads and not be hindered by agendas and ideological philosophies dictated by a handful of “experts.”
McLeroy was appointed chairman by Texas Governor Rick Perry in 2007 and came up for Senate confirmation this year. He maintains his seat on the board, but the governor will have to find another board member to take McLeroy’s place as chairman. Gov. Perry’s selection will not have to face Senate confirmation until the 2011 legislative session, unless there is an earlier special session.
- Stutz, T. Texas Senate rejects confirmation of conservative education board chief Don McLeroy. The Dallas Morning News. Posted on dallasnews.com May 28, 2009, accessed May 29, 2009.
- Dao, C. Evolutionists, Atheists Admit Defeat in Texas. ICR News. Posted on icr.org April 3, 2009, accessed May 29, 2009.
- Science setback for Texas schools. National Center for Science Education press release, March 30, 2009.
* Ms. Dao is Assistant Editor at the Institute for Creation Research.
Article posted on May 29, 2009.