The Texas Senate has refused to confirm creationist Don McLeroy as chairman of the State Board of Education, a position he has used to turn the state’s public schools into a “culture wars” battleground.
McLeroy has been the acting chairman of the board since Gov. Rick Perry appointed him to the position in July 2007. He did not come up for Senate confirmation until May of this year.
On May 28, the Senate voted 19-11 along strict party lines in favor of McLeroy, but that fell short of the required two-thirds vote.
In rejecting his confirmation, Democrats pointed to McLeroy’s refusal to listen to scientists and educators when drafting Texas public school science curriculum standards earlier this year. McLeroy pushed creationist code language and sought to water down sound science, they said.
Senate Democratic leader Leticia Van de Putte of San Antonio said that under McLeroy’s leadership, the Texas school board has become “a laughingstock of the nation.
“His actions and leadership have caused the board to be extremely dysfunctional,” she said, “and that has harmed the 4.7 million schoolchildren of Texas.”
But Republicans backed McLeroy, saying his religious beliefs should not disqualify him from serving as head of the board.
McLeroy retains his elected seat on the board, but Perry must select another member to serve as chair.