Don’t Forget State and Local Offices

Well, I threw out my back the other day, and so I’m sitting at home on a beautiful Saturday, watching through my window as the uninjured run and play like it’s the first day of summer. Lucky bastards.

Fortunately, this little setback affords me more time to play online, and allows me to pass on some good information to you all.

With the election coming up, it’s a good idea to remember that not just the big offices are being contested. There are many important state and local offices with open seats; and they are not always coveted by the most ideal candidates.

For example, in Texas, there are several positions on the Board of Education up for grabs, and some of the candidates vying for these seats could have a huge negative impact on science education should they be elected. You see, there is a large creationist contingent determined to remain a factor in guiding the educational standards in the state.

“Well, that’s Texas,” you say. “It doesn’t affect me.”

Unfortunately, it can very well affect you. Large states like Texas and California obviously have the most students in the public school system, and textbook publishers tend to follow the standards established in those states to avoid the cost of printing different versions of textbooks to satisfy every state’s standard. So if a Board of Education in a state the size of Texas decides to teach the “weaknesses of evolution” in biology classes ,for example, the resulting textbooks will have to be adopted by other states.

And there is evidence that altering science standards is exactly what the creationists running for Board of Education seats want to do.

YouTube skeptical crusader, AronRa, posted a video related to this. Take a look:

So if you are a Texas voter, use your vote wisely. Or if you’re not from Texas, but have friends and relatives there, be sure to get word to them about the importance of voting, if even for the state and local offices.

Sam Ogden

Sam Ogden is a writer, beach bum, and songwriter living in Houston, Texas, but he may be found scratching himself at many points across the globe. Follow him on Twitter @SamOgden

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  1. Actually, it’s worse than that. Unlike in California and most other states where school districts all buy their own books, in Texas the BoE buys all the books for the entire state. Individual districts can choose from a short list for each subject. Essentially this means that Texas functions as a single market for textbooks making it, far and away, the largest single buyer of textbooks, so almost all textbooks are written to Texan standards.
    Unfortunately I can’t vote in the local elections, because due to tax law silliness my income would lose its tax-exempt status if I did, but hopefully all the rest of you skeptical Texans will vote out crazy wingnuts.

  2. Thanks Sam — we do not want the nutcases determining that “science” and “creationism” are the same thing (OH OH — so sorry, I meant “intelligent design” silly me I forgot that they aren’t the same thing. Totally different — really, just ask anyone that strongly supports “intelligent design”

  3. Sometimes, I think the Union would be better off if we let Texas secede. With their educational standards driven by the nutcases, they would be a third world Hellhole in less than a generation. It would serve them right.

    I keep thinking of Richard K. Morgan’s near-future s/f novels, where the US has fragmented into two countries. The two coasts become a 21st century high tech leader and the South/Southwest/Central US have become “Jesusland,” a Christian fascistic theocracy that is sliding backwards at a staggering pace.

    Food for thought…and nightmares.

  4. I am still nt sure why we can’t get these decisions out of the hands of states as a human rights issue.

  5. @Zambiglione: “I can’t vote in the local elections, because due to tax law silliness my income would lose its tax-exempt status if I did”

    Essentially they are buying your vote? What is left of democracy in the US? Less and less apparently, this is sadening and scary.

  6. @Ambrose: Doesn’t it have something to do with controlling something you’re not contributing to? So like, you’re not paying for the service, so you don’t get to vote on how the service is run. Correct me if I’m wrong…

  7. @Ambrose:
    Not really. I can vote in the general election, just not local ones. The idea is that if you live and work out of the country you aren’t really affected by individual state and local laws so you shouldn’t be able to vote there, and besides you aren’t supposed to vote somewhere you are not a resident. Any citizen is still affected by many national laws and policies though. This is just a way to enforce it. Foreign income is only tax exempt if you work out of the country for a 12 month period and don’t vote in local elections. The weirdness comes in that most countries don’t actually make citizens living abroad even file tax returns.

  8. @wytworm:

    I am still nt sure why we can’t get these decisions out of the hands of states as a human rights issue.


    I am a Hedge

  9. @Zambiglione: Thanks for clarifying, I didn’t take in to account that you could be an expat. And as for weirdness I agree the US is one of the front runners regarding Taxation and Citizenship.

    A few examples:
    If you want to relinquish your US citizenship the IRS will automatically assume this is for tax reasons and audit you. “Why else would you not want US citizenship?”
    The US is one of the only countries that require its citizens (not just residents) to file US income tax returns. Basically most countries limit taxation to their own borders or worldwide income for residents. The US tax wherever you are in the Universe. And if there is anything outside the universe there too.
    There are such things as international agreements to avoid double taxation, these agreements have priority over national legislation. There is one country that does not apply this rule, yep the US.

    Mind you, every country has it’s weird stuff.

  10. In our internet YouTube society, participating in local elections is easier than ever. I used to hate them because getting information was such a pain in the arse. Now it is much easier.

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