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SBOE Chair Begins Confirmation Journey

Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune

Barbara Cargill was appointed State Board of Education chair last July by Governor Perry. Yesterday, she faced some pointed questions from Texas Senators during a hearing on whether to approve her appointment. 

The last two SBOE Chairs appointed by Governor Perry were blocked by Democrats in the Texas Senate. In 2009, Don McLeroy failed to win Senate approval, as did Gail Lowe in 2011.

The Texas Freedom Network, a government watchdog group, says the SBOE has spent too much time pushing socially and political conservative views in science and social studies textbooks. Cargill admitted the board had at times become a “...circus act.”

Senator Kirk Watson (D-Austin) asked Cargill if she believed it was her role as chair to keep the board out of unnecessary controversies.

“Yes, that is definitely my goal," Cargill responded. "And I know you have my cell phone number so you contact me immediately if you feel like we’re not going in that direction."

Sen. Watson said he certainly would give her a call if needed.

The teaching of evolution has particularly been in the spotlight over the last few years. Cargill told lawmakers it was not her role as chair or the board’s role to teach religious beliefs.

“I do not want in the textbooks creation or intelligent design, but I want publishers to follow the intent of the curriculum standard," Cargill said.  "We also require that stasis and transitional fossils, etc., be taught. So I want to be sure that those are taught as well. But it’s all the science. So yes I will stand by that position that those should be taught at home or in the church."

The Republican led Nominations Committee is expected to send Cargill’s nomination to the Senate floor soon. But Democrats have enough votes to block her confirmation, if they choose to.

Ben Philpott is the Managing Editor for KUT. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @BenPhilpottKUT.
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