Two Runoffs for State Board of Education Result in Wins for Qualified, Pro-Education Candidates

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Erika Beltran is the Democratic nominee for SBOE District 13

The Texas State Board of Education is often times the most important legislative body in Texas voters know nothing about. Over the last several years it has been at the center of public debates on evolution, history, science, and civics. The State Board of Education decides on the curriculum to be taught in schools and what is to be included in the text books of Texas' school children.

Luckily, in the two runoffs for the State Board of Education, one Democratic and one Republican and both located in the North Texas metroplex, the candidates most likely to support pro-science standards with positive educational backgrounds were nominated. In District 11, incumbent Republican Patricia “Pat” Hardy was re-nominated with 58.68% over her TEA Party opponent Eric Mahroum while in District 13 Erika Beltran will be the new Democratic nominee after incumbent Mavis Knight decided not to seek re-election late last year.

After the jump, learn why the nomination of these two candidates is a positive development for Texas school children.For Democrats in District 13, both runoff candidates would have pushed positive agendas, but Erika Beltran stood out with clear upsides. Burnt Orange Report was so impressed with Beltran, we endorsed her in the first round of the primary and maintained that endorsement for the runoff. We were not alone, Betran was also endorsed by several incumbent State Representatives, the Dallas Young Democrats, the Stonewall Democrats of Dallas County, The Dallas Morning News, and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Beltran has taught students in kindergarten and the fourth grade and has a Maters of Public Affairs from the LBJ School in Austin, class of 2006. As a young candidate, she has proven to be tech savvy; Democratic State Rep. Raphael Anchia advocates on what we can expect from Erika Beltran when she is sworn onto the State Board of Education in January.

Rafael Anchia Endorsement for Erika Beltran for SBOE District 13 from Emily McCartney on Vimeo.

Beltran will face a Libertarian opponent in November.

Meanwhile, in District 11, Republicans were to chose between a long time, trusted former school teacher and a radical TEA Party activist. Dallas' KERA sums up incumbent Pat Hardy and challenger Eric Mahroum's backgrounds:

Hardy, 65, is campaigning on her 30 years of education experience as a social studies teacher and a curriculum strategist.  She says she's been involved in education reform ever since the 1980s, when she campaigned for “no-pass-no-play” legislation that required athletes to pass their classes before suiting up.  

“I know a lot about education policy. I know all the players in education. I have the expertise and knowledge and the desire to do the job,” Hardy said at a recent GOP forum in Arlington.

Hardy nearly won the Republican nomination outright with 49.5 percent of the primary vote. Mahroum had 43.5 percent.

Hardy says a top priority if re-elected would be the smooth implementation of the diploma graduation program, which requires eighth graders to choose a subject area where they'll concentrate their studies. Hardy believes more school counselors are needed to help students make the right choices.

“We simply don't have enough counselors to do that job. So do they do (counsel) a few well or do they do all of them and not do a good job?”

Hardy's 31-year-old opponent, Eric Mahroum, is an operations manager at a concessions company and the father of two daughters, one of whom is home-schooled.  He says his business background is needed.

“We need someone who has a budget experience and money experience to deal with the permanent school fund. We need someone who will protect it and build on it,” Mahroum said.

Mahroum told the Republicans gathered in Arlington he favors allowing schools to arm educators so they can be a first line of defense in the event of school violence.

He stresses his Roman Catholic faith, and believes schools should be able to display the Ten Commandments.

“I'm for that realizing not every child is going to have a Christian background but our country as a whole, we stem from the Judeo Christian values,” Mahroum said.

Many of Mahroum's ideas and positions are outside of the scope of the State Board of Education and should instead be handled by the legislature if they were to be implemented. One position Mahroum did stake out which is within the scope of the State Board of Education, was that Texas Schools should not teach sex education. Incumbent Hardy disagrees, but felt each district should decide how to implement that education.

Mahroum has no educational training and his nomination would have been a disaster for all Texans. Hardy will face Democrat Nancy Bean and a Libertarian in November.

You can follow me on Twitter at @trowaman.

About Author

Joseph Vogas

Joseph was raised in Friendswood, Texas in North Galveston County. He went on to graduate from the University of North Texas with a degree in Political Science. After working for multiple campaigns, Joseph was able to work in the 83rd legislature in Austin in 2013. While retired from professional campaign work, Joseph enjoys sharing his knowledge of campaign data how to win elections in naturally unfriendly turf with others. Joseph is an avid archer and enjoys all things geek including Star Wars and DC Comics.

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