A former history teacher and a special education counselor are running for the State Board of Education seat in most of Tarrant and Parker counties.
That means District 11 starts way ahead of some districts, where state board seats are decided more on political clout than on schoolroom skill.
The board has only one duty under the Texas Constitution: to oversee wise investment of the Permanent School Fund.
This board has done that job extremely well. With 12-year incumbent Fort Worth Republican Pat Hardy as chair of the committee overseeing the fund, oil and gas investments have pushed close to $40 billion.
In fact, the fund recently passed Harvard University’s investments and became the nation’s single largest education endowment.
That alone is a good argument for keeping Hardy. But as a 30-year Castleberry history and geography teacher and more recently an instructional specialist in Weatherford, Hardy also brings essential classroom background to board meetings.
She has helped sort out who should and shouldn’t be in history textbooks, a thankless and problem-prone task.
Arlington Democrat Nancy Bean, a counselor for special-needs children in two schools, disagrees with Hardy about some of those textbook and curriculum decisions.
Bean champions several Latino heroes, naming slain Roman Catholic Archbishop Óscar Romero of El Salvador.
Hardy said Romero certainly belongs in a Central American study unit, but maybe not in a history overview course.
The candidates also disagree on oversight of public charter schools. Bean calls for closer financial supervision and some public role in choosing charter board members.
Hardy has opposed some charter schools that were later approved by Education Commissioner Michael Williams. But she said she wants Texas to choose good charter systems and then let them operate without micromanagement.
Bean is a knowledgeable candidate but lacks the fiscal experience to replace Hardy’s oversight of the Permanent School Fund.
Arlington computer consultant Craig Sanders is the Libertarian Party candidate.
The Star-Telegram Editorial Board recommends Republican Patricia “Pat” Hardy for State Board of Education District 11.