Friday, April 27, 2012

SBOE: Pam Little, Standing Firm

This week, I've reviewed three GOP candidates for the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) -- Gail Spurlock, Tincy Miller, and George Clayton -- and found all of their candidacies wanting, either deal breakers or issues that make me reluctant to endorse them.

There's a fourth candidate in the GOP primary for State Board of Education (SBOE) District 12, Pam Little. After the jump, my first impressions.

Pam Little seems to have a decent resume (with community college teaching experience), a list of impressive endorsements (including some former school board presidents and a superintendent), but she's mostly silent about her positions on the contentious issues that split the SBOE in the past. Originally, her website reportedly contained this bit of far right ideological boilerplate:

With your support, I will work to stand firm against liberal government policies which threaten our freedoms, liberties, and our economy.
That was how she announced her candidacy. I wish Pam Little would have shown more enthusiasm for educating Texas children than she showed towards standing firm against liberals. Even though she's removed that line from her website, it's a worrying sign that she'll be more culture warrior than educator. Unless she explicitly states that she won't be pushing religion in our public school curricula, questioning evolution, or whitewashing American history to eliminate liberal influences, that early unguarded peek at her agenda is a deal breaker for me.

On the other hand, at least Pam Little claims, "I believe in public education." You'd think you could take that for granted, but it's something that not all former members of the SBOE could say. Cynthia Dunbar wrote a book in which she gives this view of public education:

She calls public education a "subtly deceptive tool of perversion." The establishment of public schools is unconstitutional and even "tyrannical," she writes in the book, because it threatens the authority of families, granted by God through Scripture, to direct the instruction of their children.
Without something explicit from Pam Little that she isn't going to be another Cynthia Dunbar, she won't get my support. Given the fact that all the other candidates have posed deal breakers for me, I'm back to my original leanings towards George Clayton. His strengths are hard to find, but at least he explicitly states that he wants no role for political ideologues on the SBOE. Given the slim pickings on this year's GOP ballot for this race, that'll have to be enough for me.

This week's review of the GOP primary does not include Lois Parrott, who is seeking the Democrat-ic nomination. I'll have something to say about Parrott in the fall, before the general election. But because SBOE District 12 is dominated by Collin County, it's the GOP primary that will almost certainly determine who wins the SBOE District 12 seat in the general election.

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