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The Texas State Board of Education is famous amongst science popularizers for spending the previous decade being a gigantic shitshow. For awhile, the State Board of Ed determined what textbooks Texas public schools would order. As the second biggest textbook market in the country after California (and with California not ordering textbooks due to budget issues), publishers would cater to Texas’s standards so they could just print one run of books that they could then sell countrywide. And those standards were batshit.
The State Board of Ed was at the time controlled by the Religious Right, who tried hard to sneak language into the books that would undermine evolution and allow creationism — excuse me, “intelligent design” — to be taught as a viable scientific alternative.
They also downplayed climate change, pretended that slavery wasn’t a big deal, and emphasized that Christianity played an important role in the founding of the United States.
These days, individual Texas school districts don’t have to buy the books the State Board recommends. But many of them don’t really know all their options, so the State Board is still incredibly influential. I mean, obviously, they should be — that’s what Boards of Education should do: exert a strong influence over the quality of the state’s education.
Unfortunately, Texas has continued to be batshit insane. And things are about to get even crazier, thanks to one woman running for an open position on the board: Mary Lou Bruner. She nearly had enough votes in the primary to just win the seat outright, but because she only got 48 and not 50% of the votes, she’ll have to go through the motions of running a campaign. That’s good news, because in the meanwhile the rest of us can point out how fucking terrifying she is in the hopes that Texas wakes up and votes in literally anyone else but her.
First, there’s the evolution question. Obviously, Bruner thinks it’s all a myth. She believes that baby dinosaurs rode on Noah’s ark but after the flood there wasn’t enough vegetation to keep them alive and they couldn’t reproduce enough so they died, and the fossils support this because all dinosaur fossils have been found with the dinosaurs showing great distress, as though they’re trying to keep their heads above water.
You may be thinking, but aren’t all fossilized animals dead, indicating they all went through great distress at some point? Or, if you believe in fossils, why don’t you believe in the fact that the fossil record shows no record of a global flood but does show that dinosaurs lived 60 to 200 million years ago? But you would be a fool to think those things, because Bruner has transcended logic.
She also thinks that Barack Obama was a gay prostitute who sold his body for drug money in his 20s. I’m not joking. She actually believes that. Oh, for the days of birth certificate deniers.
Speaking of Obama, she also believes that she is on Obama’s official terrorist list, and that the result of being on this list is that sometimes her Facebook posts don’t post right away.
The good news is that she has some common ground with Richard Dawkins, in that she hates Muslims and thinks Ahmed Mohamed profited from “an evil scheme to give the Muslim boy an opportunity to claim he was “profiled” because he is a Muslim.”
There’s more — oh so much more — but I’ll leave it there in the hopes that it’s enough to encourage you to pay attention to who is running this election cycle. Not just for President of the United States, but for senator, governor, and yes, especially for the school board. Because if you’re not watchful, your own Mary Lou Bruner could be waiting to set the educational standards for the kids who will one day grow up to run this country. Choose wisely.