Texas State Board of Education election // VOTE NO

Texas State Board of Education election

AUSTIN – State Board of Education Vice Chairman Thomas Ratliff has decided not to seek another term on the board next year, saying he has accomplished most of his goals. Ratliff, R-Mount Pleasant, who has been on the board since 2011, has generally received high marks during his tenure.

Ratliff, son of former Lt. Gov. Bill Ratliff, made news back in 2010 when he upset former board Chairman Don McLeroy of College Station in the GOP primary that year. McLeroy was the leader of the social conservative bloc on the education board and drew national attention for his efforts to limit coverage of evolution in science textbooks.

When he ran for the seat, which now represents northeast Texas, Ratliff said he wanted to reduce the influence of partisan politics on the board and improve the strained relationship between the board and the Legislature. At the time, there was support among lawmakers for scaling back the authority of the board.

“I feel these goals have been largely accomplished through a combination of my efforts, the efforts of several of my colleagues and voters across the state, ” he said, adding he will serve out the final year and a half of his current term.

Ratliff, a lobbyist for several companies including Microsoft, has frequently been targeted by right-wing and social conservative groups who were upset that he ousted one of their most prominent leaders. In 2012, the groups recruited a candidate to oppose Ratliff in the GOP primary, but Ratliff prevailed and won re-election.

Ratliff also debated then-Sen. Dan Patrick of Houston in Tyler in 2013 about the CSCOPE curriculum for Texas schools that had been targeted by the tea party activists. Patrick, now lieutenant governor, said the curriculum was anti-American, while Ratliff rejected that claim and pointed to widespread usage of CSCOPE in small school districts that couldn’t afford to develop their own curriculum.

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