SBOE Chair Gail Lowe is Not Much Improvement from Rick Perry

7
7 Flares Filament.io 7 Flares ×

Today Rick Perry appointed a Republican from Lampasas to chair the State Board of Education; Gail Lowe.  Ms. Lowe calls herself a creationist and votes with the social conservative block of this education board.  She is, though, according to some reputable sources the “most moderate of remaining conservatives.”

So, those who wanted Governor Perry to appoint someone better than Don McLeroy can thank him for that.  Actually, unless he appointed Cynthia Dunbar, I don't think it could have gotten worse.  So Rick Perry made an easy choice that is meant to appease those who complained about Mr. McLeroy.  And in some ways, he succeeded.  Already, there are some who are applauding him for selecting a more moderate choice.

But where is Ms. Lowe more moderate?  It seems, I think, her rhetoric.  From the Denton Record-Chronicle:

Ms. Lowe, who called herself a creationist, said the study of evolution is important to the teaching of biology. At the same time, she added, “Kids ought to be able to hold religious beliefs and still study science without any conflict.”

And when she exerts her creationist ideas at Board meetings (for surely all members of the social conservative block do), she does so with subtlety.  

But she is not so moderate in her rhetoric regarding sex education, where she has said, “I think parents have overwhelmingly shown that they want abstinence to be taught,” although I strongly doubt a majority of parents really think that.  Her words aren't so subtle regarding environmental science or the make-up of families, either.

So, when looking at the new Chairwoman's words, we see that she is really only significantly better than Mr. McLeroy in one area of policy: evolution.  She might not be as bad with her devotion to conservative principles that hold Texas schools back, but her website claims she is “Committed to excellence and conservative Republican principles,” including “traditional values in education.”  

Now, though, I want to take another look at that one policy area where she is “better” than her predecessor; evolution.  See, her rhetoric there is encouraging, but a look at her votes make it look like her words might only be a mask.  Let's look at her record.  In 2003, she voted against biology textbooks that did not explain the “weaknesses” of the theory of evolution.  In 2009 she was still at that position, voting to reintroduce the “strengths and weaknesses” clause to the state curriculum.  Overall, she has “strongly favored” creationism through her time on the State Board of Education, despite her tricky rhetoric that might suggest otherwise.

The Texas Freedom Network sees the Lowe appointment as the minute improvement that it really is.  The organization's president Kathy Miller released the following statement:

It's disappointing that instead of choosing a mainstream conservative who could heal the divisions on the board, the governor once again appointed someone who repeatedly has put political agendas ahead of the education of Texas schoolchildren. Ms. Lowe has marched in lockstep with a faction of board members who believe that their personal beliefs are more important than the experience and expertise of teachers and academics who have dedicated their careers to educating our children and helping them succeed. We can only hope that she will rise above her history on the board and as chair keep the board from continuing to hold the education of our children hostage to divisive 'culture war' battles.

I think the Governor appointed someone with the same agenda as Don McLeroy, he simply appointed someone who is a bit quieter about her views.  In doing so, I believe he hopes the Texas Freedom Network and everyone else who wants a world-class education in this state will not notice the Board's continued mismanagement.

In this political maneuver, though, he appointed a chairwoman not known for her management skills.  She has already fought for at least a couple bad appointments to different committees.  Her appointment David Barton (to the Social Studies Curriculum Panel) argued for removing César Chavez from our curriculums.  She also co-nominated Charles Charner to the Science Curriculum Expert Review Panel, a scientist who has said, “The problem is, the conclusive evidence is really hard to get on evolution.”

I really don't know why Rick Perry is trying to bring back a social war into our schools that was fought on that field decades ago (and won by the scientists/evolutionists).  For those of you who did not see it, The Economist recently released a Special Report on Texas that was complimentary in many ways.  The report, however, gave some warnings, and the biggest warning regarded the state's education.  In a write-up on the “state's best and worst sides,” the magazine quotes a sociologist who states bluntly, “If we fail to turn our education system around, we will find that a whole generation has been locked out of the jobs market.”  The problem is, though, we can't turn our education around into a globally competitive 21st century system if we continue to dwell on issues of the past.  With the appointment of Gail Lowe, Failure Governor Perry is doing just that — continuing to dwell on a slate of issues from the past.

About Author

7 Comments

  1. Not an improvement, but probably not a step back
    Gail Lowe's voting record is the same as the rest of the social conservative bloc — she and Dunbar and Mercer and McLeroy vote almost in lockstep. There was never any real chance of changing the Board's direction when the Senate rejected McLeroy. That vote was mostly symbolic.

    But there's more to being chair than how you vote. Starting with next week's SBOE meeting, we'll see how Lowe handles the gavel.

    For now, I wish her the best. Whatever her record, we should urge her to use her authority to promote dialog and encourage consensus. If she does that, we should all thank her. If she doesn't, we should all blast her.

    But until she does something new and objectionable, let's hold our fire.

    (Usual disclosure: I'm running for the SBOE in District 10 against Cynthia Dunbar.)

    • True, not a step back
      She is definitely not a step back, and I do think she is definitely an improvement — but her record does not show much improvement.

      The fire I am giving is at Rick Perry as much if not more than Gail Lowe.  True, there wasn't a realistic chance that the board would have gotten a chair that focussed on today's real education problems, but that is under the assumption that Rick Perry will continue to lead on this failed path.  And the appointment confirms that, indeed — if nothing else, I think that is the most important point of my post.

      I hope I can come back later this year or next year and say I was wrong in my suspicions, and that Gail Lowe has lead the board with great dignity.  I am simply a bit doubtful about that possibility right now…

    • Lowe
      We did our best to get rid of Lowe in the last election. Denton County is the most populous part of her district, but still not enough Dems to flip it. District 14 is also roughly the size of New England, so that doesn't help much.

      Lowe seems like a nice lady on the surface, but her beliefs really concern me. Let's make no mistake. She is still going to vote along with the block of 7 Republicans who wish to turn back the clock on our education system.

      • Keep trying
        Thanks for trying to make this seat more mainstream.  One day we will correct the makeup of this board.

  2. Problems in Texas Education?
    How can anybody argue seriously that Texas doesn't have the finest public education system in the United States? Political slanting of science and social science materials, astronomical drop out rates (actually higher for teachers than for students in some grades), salaries too low to attract and keep many of the best teachers–what problems?  As long as we can have Christian invocations at public school events, confuse some folks about the principles of evolution, find out-of-state (if sometimes uncredentialed) experts to advise us on curriculum, everything is hunkydory. If you don't believe me, just ask Governor “Albert Einstein” Perry. And he'll ask Governor “Madame Curie” Palin. And she'll ask Joe the Plumber.  

Leave A Reply

2014 © Burnt Orange Report All Rights Reserved. Do not republish without express written permission.

Site designed and developed by well + done DESIGN

7 Flares Twitter 0 Facebook 7 Filament.io 7 Flares ×