This past Tuesday, January 3rd, I attended the McKinney Tea Party candidate forum where candidates for the SBOE district 12 election, as well as the two judges for the 199th District Court fielded questions from the audience.
The only thing I have to say about the judicial race is that anyone who spends more than 2 minutes with Ms. Tucker will realize why they should vote for her.
The first candidate to speak was George Clayton. He came across as being frustrated if not angered by his opponents and their ideas. After hearing the other candidates who followed him, I can understand why. Being the only actual Teacher/Educator running in this race, he began by providing a summation of his typical day at school. While it was boring to listen to, it drove home his point that 1. his life has been dedicated to education, and 2. of all the candidates in the running, he is the only teacher. He believes that schools should be reducing the number of administrators and hiring more teachers, that Texas schools should be focused on advanced curriculum and stimulating instruction in lieu of memorization, and that minimum standards testing is a proven barrier to children’s intellectual advancement.
The second candidate to speak was Pam Little, who really came across as a person who likes to get involved in things she believes will make her look good to others, rather than actually doing something for the sake of improving it. Instead of actual ideas, her comments were mostly conservative buzzwords followed by “just trust me, I know what’s best for your kids.” She was the first candidate to suggest teaching patriotism in schools and that “abstinence education is the only way and that school is the only place to teach it, since its not being taught anywhere else.” She also made several mentions of the failures of standardized testing and the need to teach kids critical thinking, however I did not at all get the impression that she knew what she meant by the term.
The third candidate was Tincy Miller, who started off by saying that she is there to “protect republican values” and that there are errors in history and textbooks which she aims to correct. While she was unable to provide any actual examples of the errors (she started to, 3 times, and each time stopped and told an anecdotal, yet unrelated story), she was quite sure that the problem is caused by “liberal East coast colleges whose liberal student aids are tasked with editing the textbooks,” but then went on to tout the successes of the charter schools in Harlem (right by those liberal East coast universities on the liberal East coast). She believes that the school curriculum should teach conservatism and promote American exceptionalism. She also believes that anyone can be a good teacher with proper training.
The fourth and final candidate was Gail Spurlock, who claimed to be the only true conservative in the group, and then went on to say that she believes that “liberals are trying to take over the school board” which is a “violation of the 10th amendment” with no further explanation. Her position is that schools should prepare children to enter the workforce. She believes that history books should promote American exceptionalism, that sex ed should be taught in biology and that the rest should be left to the parents and the clergy.
So here are my concerns:
Three out of four candidates concluded that teaching/protecting conservative values is their top priority and that there is an actual conspiracy to infiltrate the minds of children with liberal ideology. At the same time, they also stressed the importance of teaching children to think critically. How is it then, that anyone can exercise critical thinking AND form an objective opinion with only one view of any particular subject? To that end, if conservatism is the naturally correct way to be, shouldn’t children arrive at that same conclusion if presented with both the thesis and antithesis to their argument?
The general feeling I got from Pam, Tincy and Gail was that they wanted to give the audience the impression that they want your children to be taught to be intellectual, critical thinkers, while the strategy each outlined points back to the current trend of turning children into obedient ‘task-doers’. Their religious and political views dominated their agendas and as it pertains to public education, I struggled to see where this is even a correlation let alone benefit, to anyone, children or otherwise.
George Clayton on the other hand, presented ideas centered around stimulating curriculum, intellectual growth and lower student to teach ratios by virtue of lowering the ratio of administrators to teachers. While I was initially concerned with his outward frustrations, I can empathize with his feelings. His opponents have outwardly demonized him on account of his sexual orientation and it being part of their vast liberal conspiracy. All that nonsense aside, he is the only candidate in the running who appears to genuinely care about the education and future of Texas’ children, AND his track record reflects this.
While I encourage everyone to do their own due diligence and form an objective opinion of their own, I am comfortable saying that Mr. Clayton has my vote and support.
A big thanks goes out to the McKinney Tea Party for organizing this event and their efforts to engage and inform fellow citizens.
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