The little-known State Board of Education is assigned only one task in the Texas Constitution: to wisely manage public money in the Permanent School Fund.
The Texas Legislature, the governor’s appointed commissioner of education and local trustees make most decisions about public schools. But lawmakers delegate duties to the board, such as writing a curriculum and choosing materials.
This very week, for example, the board has been meeting in Austin to decide if second-semester algebra and speech will remain graduation requirements.
It’s a low-profile board that doesn’t get attention except when it wades into debates over history and science curriculum, which in turn leads to debates over religion and evolution.
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Then, board members become the focus of segments on The Daily Show or movies like The Revisionaries, the even-handed 2012 documentary about former Chairman Don McLeroy’s heartfelt belief that the earth is 6,000 years old.
Three contested primaries this spring will decide the direction of the board and Texas school curriculum for the next four years.
Two of the three contested seats include Tarrant County.
In District 11, incumbent Fort Worth Republican Patricia “Pat” Hardy has served 12 years on the board, long enough to catch grief from every direction.
Hardy, a 30-year history and geography teacher at Castleberry and more recently an administrator in Weatherford, brings a teacher’s practical-minded voice to the board.
An ardent Republican campaigner and curriculum conservative, she nonetheless often winds up in the middle of arguments between liberal Democrats and McLeroy’s former faction.
But her credentials show best in her work as vice-chair and chair of the Committee on School Finance/Permanent School Fund.
Hardy says in her 10 years, the fund has grown from $17 billion to $29 billion.
One opponent, Bedford Republican Eric Mahroum, is a graduate of Mansfield High School and an open-enrollment, online college. He was a party activist in Denton County but has little involvement in or knowledge of education issues.
North Richland Hills Republican Lady Theresa Thombs, a real estate agent and evangelist, is also on the ballot.
The district includes west and southwest Fort Worth, suburban Tarrant County, Parker County and northwest Dallas County.
Hardy’s classroom experience and stable leadership are needed to keep the board and Permanent School Fund on a steady path.
The Star-Telegram Editorial Board recommends Patricia “Pat” Hardy in the Republican primary for State Board of Education District 11.