Tuesday’s primary elections don’t seem – at this point – to have shifted the ideological balance of power on the State Board of Education (SBOE) despite the defeat of three incumbents. That’s a concern because the state board is scheduled to adopt new science textbooks in 2013 and new social studies textbooks in 2014, and both subjects have been at the center of some of the most divisive and controversial battles among board members.
The truth is we didn’t see a trend, ideological or otherwise, in the election results. Two Republican incumbents and one Democratic incumbent lost. Moreover, four of nine candidates – including one of the Republican incumbents – backed by religious-right groups lost.
On the other hand, four religious-right candidates won. Another is headed to a runoff election in July (as are Democrats in at least one race). Click here to find a full list of SBOE candidates and winners from yesterday’s elections. Below is a summary of what happened:
- Incumbent Gail Lowe lost her bid for re-election in the Republican contest for the District 14 seat. Lowe is a member of the board’s far-right faction who served as board chair during the controversial adoption of heavily politicized social studies standards in 2010.
- Three other religious-right candidates lost in their GOP primaries: Veronica Anzaldua (District 1), Randy Stevenson (District 9) and Jeff Fleece (District 10)
- Four religious-right candidates won in their GOP primaries: incumbent and current board chair Barbara Cargill (District 8), incumbent Ken Mercer (District 5), incumbent David Bradley (District 7) and candidate Marty Rowley (District 15).
- Gail Spurlock, a religious-right candidate in District 12, made it into a runoff against former SBOE member Geraldine “Tincy” Miller.
Unfortunately, last night’s outcome won’t bring a sea change at the state board. There almost certainly will still be too many board members who put their personal and political agendas ahead of education when the board adopts new science and social studies textbooks over the next two years. Even so, the November elections could still make a difference in the overall balance of power on the board.
The runoff in the District 12 Republican Primary and the District 2 Democratic Primary is set for July 31. If you haven’t already, sign our pledge to help get politics out of our public school classrooms.