In what is being hailed as something of a victory for reality-based education, Texas Board of Education member and young earth creationist Don McLeroy lost his Republican primary battle Tuesday to a critic of his attempts to insert religious dogma into the state education system.
Thomas Ratliff, a legislative consultant and son of a former lieutenant governor, had received support from mainstream public education groups fed up with McLeroy and other board members orchestrated attempt to inject their far-right conservative Christian views into both state science and social study education standards.
In addition, the Texas Freedom Network reports that two other members of TBOE’s social conservative voting bloc also lost election contests and a third was forced into a runoff.
According to TFN, Randy Rives and Joan Muenzler, who were backed by groups such as WallBuilders and the Texas Pastor Council, also lost their primary races.
In addition, Austin attorney Brian Russell, who Cynthia Dunbar recruited to run for her seat, was forced into a Republican runoff against a moderate Republican. Dunbar, who is retiring, is a dominionist and has said public education is evil.
Incumbent Ken Mercer, who has said, “If evolution were true, how come we’ve never seen a dog-cat?” was the only candidate backed by religious-right groups who won his primary.
In his campaign, Ratliff decried the board’s politicization of public education, which included members attacking the teaching of evolution in science class and trying to rewrite the social studies textbook requirements to defend the U.S. as a Christian nation and one that is blessed with exceptionalism by God.
“Our kids don’t go to red schools. They don’t go to blue schools. They go to local schools,” Ratliff said during his campaign.
McLeroy is probably best known for a remark he made during TBOE science curriculum hearings last year in which he tried to insert language to make them more creationist friendly. Before a group of scientists and educators who decried his attempts, McLeroy said, “Somebody has to stand up to the experts.”