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Discover News By District
Area Democrats challenge conservatives for State Board of Education
Wednesday, December 9, 2009 by Kimberly Reeves
Two Democrats, each of whom represents a part of the
Austin Democrat Judy Jennings will challenge Cynthia Dunbar in State Board of Education District 10, which includes the northern half of
Earlier this week, UT professor Lorenzo Sadun withdrew from the District 10 Democratic primary and threw his support behind
The consultant for both
Even after some of some of the higher-profile media events surrounding the board – the fight over evolution being one and
The general message the two bring right now is support for public education. When it comes to the incumbents they challenge, and Dunbar in particular, doubts have been raised about how supportive the members have been when it comes either to building public education or tearing it down in favor of vouchers.
With such a broad region – each SBOE district encompasses around 12 counties – a campaign can get expensive. Campaign consultant Scott Garrison has goals of raising $250,000 for
“I think I have an advantage in my district because Ken Mercer has painted teachers as the enemy, but teachers have the same kind of grassroots capabilities as these extreme conservative church groups,” Bell-Metereau said. “They’ve decided to take on teachers as the enemy, but we learned from the Obama campaign that we can have political power, too. They enlisted support and created phone trees and created small communication groups, and we’ll have a part of that.”
Jennings, who described some SBOE members as being harsh and even abusive to Texas Education Agency staff, said a constituency for reasonable leadership, even in districts that have voted in Republican members, does exist.
“We need to make people aware that there’s been a problem, and let them know what they can do about it,”
SBOE is a 15-member elected board. Of that membership, members Barbara Cargill, Terri Leo, Don McLeroy, Gail Lowe, David Bradley, Dunbar and Mercer are in the conservative faction. Lowe chairs the board, replacing McLeroy after the Senate declined to confirm him as chair last session. McLeroy remains a member of the board, elected from the SBOE district that includes
The balance is moderate or liberal, although members Rick Agosto and Lawrence Allen, who have been given important committee seats by the conservatives, have voted with the conservatives on a number of key votes or even been absent during crucial votes on decisive instructional measures. Agosto, who represents a portion of
That leaves a lot of speculation as to who will control the board and whether the momentum that ousted McLeroy could continue or if it was limited to the Democratic political circles in
The wild card in the race between Mercer and Bell- Metereau is the Republican primary. Tim Tuggey, the former chair of the VIA Metro board in San Antonio, is challenging Mercer in the primary. Making the case that Democrats should prevail as a reasonable voice may be more difficult if it comes down to a face-off between Tuggey and Bell-Metereau in the November general election.
Dunbar, an attorney who lives in
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