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FUNDRAISERS FOR TEXAS SBOE INCUMBENT'S CAMPAIGN RAISE QUESTIONS

TFN Asks for Investigation into Whether David Barton's Support for SBOE Incumbent David Bradley Violates State Law

The Texas Freedom Network today asked district attorneys in Harris and Jefferson counties to investigate whether a State Board of Education (SBOE) incumbent's campaign fundraising events feature the illegal involvement of a prominent political leader who also publishes instructional materials used in Texas public schools.

Republican SBOE member David Bradley's campaign website (bradleyfortexas.com) touted David Barton, head of a political advocacy group called WallBuilders, as a featured speaker at two Bradley fundraisers on Saturday (March 31) in Beaumont and Houston. Among the state board' s responsibilities is adopting instructional materials for public schools. WallBuilders publishes instructional materials. But according to the Education Code, "a person engaged in manufacturing, shipping, selling or advertising instructional materials commits an offense if the person makes or authorizes a political contribution to or takes part in, directly or indirectly, the campaign of any person seeking election to or serving on the board." Violation of the statute is a Class B misdemeanor.

Barton's participation in Bradley's campaign raises questions about the law as well as propriety, TFN President Kathy Miller said.

"Clearly, we think this raises serious legal questions about Mr. Bradley's fundraising and Mr. Barton's participation in it," Miller said. "But it also rings alarm bells about potential cronyism and highlights how big a role politics plays in decisions about what textbooks our kids use in their schools. This isn't just a technicality. We shouldn't have people who are involved in creating and selling instructional materials also raising money for candidates for a state board that decides which materials will be sold to schools."

Barton and WallBuilders have published various instructional materials used in public schools.

  • Barton is co-author of an American history textbook, "Drive Thru America," that has been marketed to schools as "designed to meet state-mandated curriculum guidelines" and aligned with standards developed by the National Council for the Social Studies. The state board is set to consider proposed instructional materials for social studies in 2014.
  • Various school districts reported using during the 2005-06 school year materials published by WallBuilders, including the "American Government and Bible" video (Brady ISD); Barton's book "Original Intent: The Courts, the Constitution & Religion" and the "Foundations of American Government" and "The Spirit of the American Revolution" videos (Mineral Wells ISD); and "America's Godly Heritage" video (Belton ISD).
  • Barton's organization, WallBuilder Press, publishes the "New Testament Bible Study Course: Dallas High Schools" and "Old Testament Bible Study Course: Dallas High Schools," which were originally published by Dallas Public Schools. The New Testament course book was still used in at least one Texas school district as recently as the 2005-06 school year. The Legislature passed a law laying out guidelines for public school Bible classes in 2007, and the State Board of Education subsequently adopted curriculum standards for the courses.

Bradley's challenger in the SBOE District 7 Republican primary is Rita Ashley of Beaumont. Because no Democrat is seeking the seat, the winner of the GOP primary will be a member of the SBOE when that body approves textbooks and other instructional materials for public schools, including for science in 2013 and social studies in 2014.

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The Texas Freedom Network is a nonpartisan public education watchdog based in Austin. The grassroots organization of religious and community leaders supports public education, religious freedom and individual liberties.

 

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