Texas Gov. Rick Perry named Gail Lowe, R-Lampasas, to chair the State Board of Education.
Texas senators rejected Perry’s earlier nomination of Don McLeroy, R-Beaumont, due to McLeroy’s divisive tactics on board issues. The chair must come from one of the board’s 15 elected members.
Perry was thought to favor a radical conservative to push the anti-education wishes of hard-core Republicans in Texas, whose vote Perry hopes to have in a tough fight for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in 2010. U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison will try to oust Perry for the party’s nomination. Some feared Perry would nominate Cynthia Dunbar, R-Richmond, who is even more radical than McLeroy.
In contrast, Lowe has been a relatively reliable vote against Texas teachers and science curricula, but she is not known to be as polarizing as McLeroy. She has compromised on some issues, voting with educators and students.
Perry’s turning to Lowe indicates his disregard of education as an issue, and his writing off of the vote of Texas teachers and parents of students. Perry could have named an experienced administrator and peace maker who could push the board to do its legally-mandated work on time, by nominating Bob Craig, R-Lubbock. Perry’s turning to Lowe instead indicates that a working board is not among his priorities.
Lowe’s appointment to the chair probably is not so bad as a Dunbar appointment would have been. But unless Ms. Lowe makes serious efforts to push for journeyman policy-making from board members, avoiding intentional controversies and simply resolving controversial issues that cannot be avoided, the SBOE will contined to be little more than political theatre in Austin, except when it actually rules on curricula and textbook issues.
Few expect the board to be a fountain of wisdom, or an example of education excellence over the next two years.
Perry’s action becomes not so bad as the potential slap in the face to Texas education that he might have delivered. It’s the slap without a windup. Texas students deserved a kiss instead.
Lowe will serve at least until the State Senate can act to approve or disapprove the nomination; the legislature will meet next in January 2011. Lowe can serve for 17 months before the legislature meets.
- Announcement at Texas Freedom Network blog, Insider
- Tony’s Curricublog on the appointment
- Houston Chronicle story on the chair selection from July 5, describing the issues and candidates
- Terence Stutz note at the Dallas Morning News Trailblazer blog
- Associated Press story in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram
- Austin American-Statesman Postcards blog notice
- July 10 editorial in The Daily Texan (University of Texas), before the nomination announcement
- Burnt Orange Report comments, on possibility of Dunbar appointment
- Inkbluesky — well, you gotta read this one to get it
Also at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub: