Resolution vs. Revolution: The Race for SBOE – District 12
by Susan Fletcher on December 12, 2011 at 11:57 AM
In responding to a private report that was sent by myself to the board members of Golden Corridor Republican Women regarding the current field of State Board of Education (SBOE) candidates, SBOE Representative George Clayton, District 12, recently issued a press release in which he publicly stated that he “lives with a male partner and wants to focus on education”, as well as why he feels that his sexual orientation has no bearing on his candidacy for the State Board of Education. It is unfortunate that Mr. Clayton did not contact me directly, as I would have willingly clarified my comments. Instead, he has called “foul” and circled the wagons.
I have absolutely no ill will toward Mr. Clayton or the gay community. However, as a political candidate, Mr. Clayton should expect questions on a wide variety of subjects that would guide his educational philosophy. One’s personal life and philosophy most certainly affect their world view and the decisions that they make as representatives. (Just look at our current Presidential race and try to tell me that one’s personal life doesn’t matter.) The voters deserve to know where SBOE candidates stand on sex education since health standards will be considered in 2013. I strongly urge Mr. Clayton (as well as other candidates) to clarify his position and disclose if he will support an abstinence-only curriculum or something else. When a candidate has an underlying agenda, we, as constituents, must live with the consequences of who we elect to office. By his vitriolic response, am I to assume that Mr. Clayton does indeed have an agenda? Mr. Clayton and his supporters couldn’t be further from the truth regarding my thoughts and opinions. I am blessed to have a very diverse group of friends with many different backgrounds and world views. Faith, race and sexual orientation have NEVER been part of my criteria for choosing friends. Furthermore, I choose not to let this situation change my goodwill toward the gay community as a whole.
Gross mischaracterizations are a common tactic used to gain sympathy, and manufactured causes can often serve as a battle cry, motivating faithful supporters to action. Unfortunately, Mr. Clayton has managed to erode all diplomacy that could lead to real understanding. It is as irresponsible as yelling “FIRE” in a crowded building and it has done immeasurable damage.
The candidates for the SBOE are in a position to make public policy and impact what we teach future generations. Personal life, world view and philosophy are entirely relevant to their candidacy.
Ultimately, voters will choose the candidate that best represents their own values, and as voters, we must not abdicate our roles in the process. I believe that any candidate running in the Republican Primary should have the political integrity to stand on the GOP Platform and be intellectually honest with those they seek to represent. Furthermore, if they are elected, they should be mindful that they represent the entire district and be available to hear all of their constituents concerns.
Words mean things. Mr. Clayton says that we should “focus on education,” and I wholeheartedly agree. More specifically, let’s focus on how and what we will teach our children in our public schools. It is obvious that Mr. Clayton has an enormous chip on his shoulder and clearly prefers a revolution over a resolution. He has chosen to push away someone who would genuinely like to have a rational discussion about the issues facing the SBOE in the next few years.
Ultimately, I am thankful that we live in a free society that allows us to have this frank discussion. It is regrettable that Mr. Clayton has chosen to derail his own campaign. It remains to be seen if Mr. Clayton will address how his personal life will impact his decisions on the SBOE in regard to sex education – or if he supports the 2010 Texas Republican Party Platform. You see Mr. Clayton, my question IS germane to your candidacy.
Press Release from George Clayton
Press release to:
Dallas Morning News
The Texas Tribune
The Austin American Statesman
From the office of George M. Clayton, Member
Texas State Board of Education, District 12
Subject: Sexual orientation.
It has come to my attention that one of my opponents in my bid for reelection to the State Board of Education and certain member(s) of the Golden Corridor Republican Women's Club are questioning my sexual orientation. So as to avoid the tyranny of misinformation and innuendo in this political race, I wish to say that I, in fact, do have a male partner who lives with me in my home in Richardson, Texas. I hope this frank announcement satisfies Tincy Miller and the ladies associate with the Golden Corridor organization. All of us can now move on with discussions concerning education instead of being overly occupied with my personal life.
NOTE: For clarification please read the attached interview given by Tincy Miller to the President of the Golden Corridor Republican Women Club, paying close attention to the final remarks at the end of the document.
Original Report sent to GCRW Board Members (privately – not originally intended for public distribution):
November 1, 2011
Interview with Tincy Miller – Candidate for State Board of Education
Q: Why did you vote against the Conservatives on the Science Standards - to change the requirements of teaching Pros & Cons of Evolution?
A: She says she voted to teach all of the theories – pros & cons and that was the “common agreement”. She says that the “new language did not restrict the curriculum to just Evolution”. She says “the old language said ‘weaknesses and strengths’ and didn’t clarify it enough, so I was for teaching the pros/cons of all of the scientific theories, including creation and evolution.” She also said that she did change her position (didn’t specify when) because at one point, she “thought that Creation should be taught as a theory under a different area, but had come to the conclusion that it should be included with the Science standards and taught as another Scientific theory, along with the others.” She then pointed me to Sect. 112:34; Biology 3A, 7G & 7B.
Tincy also said that she considers herself to be a strong conservative and how it hurts when others have referred to her as a moderate or RINO. She hoped that by sitting down and addressing our concerns, it would clear the air and explain where she’s coming from.
I explained that the most common thing I’ve heard in response to the new district is that people recognize that we should have a very strong conservative in that seat – because the new District 12 is much more conservative than the old District 12 that only included a sliver of Collin County.
Q: Why were you absent for the 9-5 vote on the Social Studies/History Standards?
A: “I had a plane to catch, but if I had been concerned that there was any danger of them not being approved, I would have cancelled my flight / meeting. I voted in favor all along – and they kept putting off the vote. I begged the Chairman to hold the vote when I could be there, but that did not happen and I felt that everything would turn out OK and it would pass even without me being present for that particular vote.”
Q: Why did you vote against the pro-Islamic / anti-Christian resolution?
A: She remembers there were some issues with the resolution, but will have to go back to her notes and get the specifics. She said that there was “some language in there that was not accurate”, so they asked for those parts that were incorrect to be omitted. She said that they were not willing to omit the parts that were inaccurate, so she could not vote for the resolution. She said that she went to the microphone and spoke after the vote, explaining her position and why she voted against the resolution.
She went on to clarify that she was against all forms of Sharia Law, Islamic schooling, etc. She expressed a clear concern about following the laws that are already in place here.
Q: What is your philosophy on Constructivism vs. Traditional Education (fact-based education)?
A: “I am for Traditional Education, no political correctness and historical accuracy. We must teach Free Market / Free Enterprise, the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, the Pledge of Allegiance, etc.” She seemed very strong and determined on this when I asked… I saw no hint of wavering.
Q: Do you support abstinence-only sex education as it pertains to the new health education textbooks to be adopted in 2013?
A: “Yes.” She was very strong on this topic and went on to say, “It is very important that the health curriculum to be taught is abstinence-only. We need to also teach the other specific criteria that is necessary regarding how our bodies work, etc. I am strongly opposed to providing a ‘How To’ manual to teach kids about having safe sex” – which she explained that the publishers were supporting.
At this point, Tincy went on to tell me that in 1995, publishers got mad at the SBOE members for pointing out areas in the textbooks that were incorrect, so they went to the legislature and got them to take that power away from the SBOE to regulate specific content. She pointed out that they are now only able to regulate the curriculum that is to be taught but not make corrections to the published materials. However, she added that the published materials must accurately reflect the content, so that’s the way they can regulate the content. She also explained that Bill Ratliff wanted the SBOE appointed (which failed) – but was able to rearrange the organizational structure and took the board away from overseeing the Commissioner and away from the agency. Now the Governor appoints the Commissioner.
She explained during that time, she decided that she became keenly aware that the SBOE needed a parliamentarian, so Vance paid the salary of Pat O’Grady for the first year. Now the salary is in the Commissioner’s budget.
Q: What is your position on the new STAAR tests?
A: “They are an improvement and back to the good way we used to learn and be tested. The TAKS system has teachers that are teaching to the test instead of teaching the curriculum and then testing on it.”
Q: How do you feel about Thomas Ratliff and his service on the SBOE?
A: “Any Ratliff is a no-no.” She was very distrustful of Thomas, realizes that the AG’s office has issued an opinion, but does not know how to get him removed. We both discussed it, wondering what the next step is – and what is necessary to remove him from office. *We are not sure what the Texas Election Code has to say about that, but we both agreed that something must be done. The Education Code is very clear – and he is in violation.
Q: How do you feel about the Permanent School Fund?
A: “I believe it should be left alone and not raided. It was created in 1874 and is not made up of tax dollars, so they should leave it alone.” She condemned Bullock for looking to the fund in the 1990’s. She also explained how external managers were making millions of dollars in fees when they managed the fund, although we received no increases. She also referred to some shenanigans regarding unethical campaign donations that were exposed during that time from the fund managers… forcing an official to step down.
NOTE: My notes are minimal from this point forward, so I’ll just list what I wrote down… we were running out of time and quickly hit on the rest of the questions I had…
Q: How much do you know about the adoption of the new ELAR, Science, and Social Studies TEKS?
A: Reading TEKS great – phonics based. Science – partially funded. Social Studies – to be developed if legislature approves funding. *I think we moved on rather quickly here…
Q: Do you think that the new ELAR, Science, and Social Studies TEKS need to be rewritten?
A: “No – they have already been approved by the board.” She then went on to explain the rotation every 10 years – Math, History, Reading, Science, etc. and said that Math is up again…
Q: What is your position on bilingual education?
A: “It is the law, so that’s what we’ve got to deal with.” While on the board, she explained that she tried to “tighten up” the policy and make it where by the time they are out of 3rd grade, they are taught in English. Others migrating in should get it in 2 yrs.
She also said that she invited some folks from California to come speak about Immersion and how it’s worked there. It was a program that was supported by Hispanic mothers and has worked very well for them… with higher successes, test scores, etc. Tincy believes that Immersion would be good for Texas – and supports legislation that would allow for that to be another option - instead of bilingual education only.
Q: What do you know about the Common Core Standards, and do you think that Gov. Perry and Texas Commissioner of Education Scott did the right thing in declining to participate in the CCS/RTTT?
A: “Yes. They did the right thing. We do not need national standards – education would be liberalized. Perry was absolutely right to stand up for that.”
At this point, it was 2:15 p.m. and we had been there since noon. I do appreciate that Tincy was willing to take the time to sit and be questioned about her past dealings as well as her positions on the items above.
End of interview.
Now, I have some other questions that I would like to have answered. Of course, all of the questions above (except the ones specific to how Tincy voted) should be asked of the other candidates… along with these that have also been raised:
Additional questions for George Clayton:
- Why does he think it’s OK to raid the permanent school fund?
- What are his living arrangements in Richardson? With whom does he live? It’s not appropriate to comment further – but this needs to be investigated.
Additional questions for Pam Little:
- Explain her connection with the publisher that she has worked for / is working for?
- To me, this seems like another conflict of interest – similar to Thomas Ratliff. It has been mentioned that Pam has attended SBOE meetings to lobby the members on behalf of the publisher. This should be explored.
Golden Corridor Republican Women