Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Democrat’s Response to Religious Bias on the SBOE

As happens from time to time, rarely, but it does happen, a commenter on my previous piece on the State Board of Education’s Foray into Revisionist History has actually filed to run for a seat on the State Board of Education, none other than Rebecca Bell-Metereau, a Democrat, who is running in District 5 for a position on the state school board.

I decided to front page her comment because it so exemplifies the viewpoint of a fair-minded person of Democratic persuasion. Quoted in full, here is what Dr. Bell-Metereau wrote:

“Whatever happened to the separation of church and state? Or a nation founded on religious freedom? We need to keep personal politics out of education and bring the focus of the board back to the educating the children of Texas in a fair and balanced way. This is why I am running for State Board of Education, District 5.”

“-Rebecca Bell-Metereau”

Her campaign website can be found here.

According to SBOE watchdog Suzy Allinson, this is how District 5 sits in the primary and ultimately, in November:

“District 5 - Parts of Bexar and Travis Counties, as well as Bell, Burnet, Llano, Gillespie, Blanco, Kendall, Hays, Caldwell, Guadalupe and Comal Counties. Ken Mercer (R), incumbent. Mercer has filed for re-election and will be opposed in the Republican primary by Tim Tuggey. Rebecca Bell-Metereau, Robert M. Bohmfalk, Daniel Boone and Josiah James Ingalls will face each other in the Democratic primary. The 2006 down-ballot percentages for this district are 41.2% D, 58.8% R.”

So this is a race with lots of opposition, with even a Republican primary challenger filing against incumbent Ken Mercer.

The Republican, Tim Tuggey, has never served in any elected office, has never dealt with the school board (and promises that he never will) will nonetheless oppose social conservative and religious evangelical board member Mercer, observing that he wishes to move the board away from the “overheated ideological debate” that has plagued its effectiveness.

Well there’s that, so if the Tuggey wins the primary in this Republican favored district at least we will lose Mercer’s religious bias.

But never mind that. Where a Republican may moderate this contentious debate, electing a Democrat to this post practically guarantees that the board will return to securing for Texas some quality discussion on education improvement that is absent of the mindless squabbling over something that is constitutionally forbidden anyway.

A crowded Democratic field of four exists, but in my limited research I have only encountered three of the four Democratic candidates’ campaign websites, that of Bell-Metereau, Josiah James Ingalls, and Daniel Boone. The Herald-Zeitung has a fairly comprehensive article on the District 5 race, from which I have gleaned the following tidbits of information on the other three Democratic candidates.

Robert M. Bohmfalk, out of Seguin, with no campaign website that I am aware of, is apparently a mental health caseworker who is also an ordained United Methodist minister. He has no experience in the field of education from what I can gather. Giving him credit, however, he did sign the Texas Freedom Network’s statement of opposition to the school board’s attempt to censor biology content.

Dr. Daniel Boone, PhD (I kid you not, that’s his name) is a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel who has taught at university and is a clinical psychologist. Boone, however, agrees with the Republicans, both Mercer and Tuggey, that Texas should steer clear of federal education standards as there needs to be “more local control and innovation throughout the country.”

Whatever that means.

I guess I should point out the fact that science curriculum in Texas was adopted from federal standards 20 years ago. Most states did that because it was the only comprehensive curriculum in existence.

Josiah James Ingalls is probably the biggest study of all. Ingalls is running on the platform that he was legally denied an education past 3rd grade until he was 18 years old. He never fully explains why, however. He eventually earned a high school diploma. Ingalls appears to be alone in supporting the concept of charter schools.

Getting me back to Dr. Bell-Metereau.

Rebecca Bell-Metereau appears to be the real deal. A Democrat. An award-winning educator, and a leader in the field of education. Of the four Democrats in the field, Dr. Bell-Metereau is by far the most qualified to sit on the state board and has the correct attitude that Texas needs to turn the corner on its path toward educational mediocrity and promotion of religious agendas.

I don’t get to vote in District 5. And unfortunately I don’t get to vote against Cynthia Dunbar who cureently represents my district because this anti-public education school board member who homeschools her own children has deigned not to run for re-election this year.

But if I did live in District 5 there is no question that I would cast my primary ballot for Dr. Rebecca Bell-Metereau.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Thanks for the endorsement, the accuracy, and intelligence of your description. I hope others will agree with your views, and I appreciate your spreading the word about my campaign and the importance of the State Board of Education race. Please keep in touch through my website, voterebecca.com.