News Articles and Editorials About the 2008 Primary Campaigns
for Positions on the Texas State Board of Education

Two seats on State Board of Education contested in March 4 primary

Associated Press Writer

AUSTIN -- Just two seats on the 15-member State Board of Education are being contested in the March 4 primary, but the results of the races could shape the outcome of a brewing battle over how evolution is taught in Texas public schools.

Incumbents Mary Helen Berlanga, a Democrat, and Pat Hardy, a Republican, face primary challenges for another four-year term.

The board sets school curricula, selects textbooks and manages the $25 billion Permanent School Fund.

"When you think about the fact that the State Board of Education in Texas determines what every child in Texas public schools will be taught in K through 12, the impact that those members have is extraordinary on the future of Texas," said Kathy Miller, executive director of the Texas Freedom Network, which monitors religious teachings in public schools. "These races are absolutely critical."

In addition to English, science curriculum standards are scheduled to be reviewed this year and observers expect a push from conservatives on the board to water down the teaching of evolution in classrooms as well as in textbooks.

"Membership of the State Board of Education is clearly, very evenly divided between the far right faction of the board and everyone else," Miller said.

Hardy and Berlanga "have been voting against the far right faction of the State Board of Education and have been vocal proponents for listening to the teachers that are actually in the classroom, for listening to the legislative mandate that they not be in the business of censoring textbooks."

In District 2, a large South Texas district, Berlanga, a 26-year board veteran, is being challenged in the Democratic primary by retired school-administrator Lupe Gonzalez.

Gonzalez said he believes intelligent design--a recent theory that the universe is so complex that science alone cannot explain the origins of life--should be included in textbooks as an alternative to evolution.

"The ... issue can be minimized to a large extent if we present alternatives to the theory of evolution, give both of them equal weight and that's it," he said.

"I just think that there has to be something far more than just a big-bang theory ... that it just happened haphazardly. I just have a hard time believing that that would be the case."

Intelligent design is being advocated in various states as an alternative to either evolution or creationism.

In North Texas' District 11, which includes the Fort Worth area, Hardy, a former high school teacher, is being challenged by Barney Maddox, a urologist from Cleburne who once testified that the state's science curriculum is an attempt to "brainwash our children into believing in evolution."

Repeated attempts to contact Maddox were unsuccessful.

The winner of the District 11 primary will not face a general election opponent.

Berlanga or Gonzalez will face Peter Johnston, who is running unopposed on the District 2 Republican primary ballot.

Republican incumbents Terri Leo, David Bradley, Barbara Cargill and Gail Lowe are unopposed in the primary. Bradley and Lowe will face a general election challenge in November, as will Democrat incumbent Mavis Knight, who also is unopposed in the primary.


Religious right may gain sway over State Board of Education

Star-Telegram staff writer
Posted on Sun, Feb. 24, 2008

Although little noticed by the public, the race for a local seat on the State Board of Education could lead to a dramatic ideological shift on the panel and -- by extension -- in Texas school policy.

That's the word from several board observers, who say a March 4 primary victory by challenger Barney Maddox over incumbent Pat Hardy for the Fort Worth-area District 11 seat would give social conservatives their first majority on the board.

According to some, that could mean changes in policies on sex education and the teaching of history.

"This one vote would give a majority to a faction that is determined to censor information for their own political and personal beliefs," said Dan Quinn, a spokesman for the Texas Freedom Network, a group that opposes religious conservatives in government.

Maddox has not returned numerous phone calls from the Star-Telegram and did not provide information about his candidacy for the newspaper's recent votersguide.

However, some of Maddox's views have emerged through his public testimony and published writings. In 2003, for instance, the Cleburne urologist testified against evolution at the State Board of Education with his characterization of Charles Darwin's theories as "pre-Civil War fairy tales." He urged board members at the meeting to reject new biology textbooks.

Maddox also questioned evolution in a 2006 letter to the Cleburne Times-Review and has had anti-evolution writings posted on the Web site of the Institute for Creation Research, a Dallas organization that attempts to find scientific evidence for the writings in the Bible. In published voters guides, Maddox has reported strong opposition to replacing abstinence-only education with more comprehensive sex education, strong opposition to providing school counseling or teaching about homosexuality, and strong support for displaying the Ten Commandments in public schools.

The 15-member elected state board reviews textbooks, debates school curriculum and sets education policy. Of the 10 Republicans on the board, seven are considered social or religious conservatives, including the chairman. The remaining five are Democrats.

Texas Freedom Network's Quinn said the social conservative faction has grown and shrunk over the years, but never has it been the board majority. That would change with a Maddox victory, Quinn said.

"That would put at risk everything from the teaching of evolution, to how publishers approach the study of American history," he said.

But Kelly Shackelford, president of the Free Market Foundation, which describes itself as an organization that promotes Judeo-Christian values, said the Texas Freedom Network was needlessly pushing the panic button.

He said that putting another strong conservative on the board would help build a firewall against "liberals who use schools to push their political propaganda." He said the board's conservatives typically protect against the insertion of potentially erroneous material into textbooks.

"Conservative means careful -- it means that you don't put things in textbooks unless they're accurate," he said.

For her part, incumbent Hardy predicts that the "far right" contingent would try to teach creationism in schools "in a New York second." The 59-year-old Weatherford school official also said conservative members have voted together on other issues, such as those concerning American history and world geography.

"There is a supreme being, and all this is all part of his divine plan -- that is my religious belief -- but how can you go into the classroom and teach that?" Hardy said. But in other regards, some of Hardy's positions don't seem so far removed from those she describes as members of the far right.

For instance, board Chairman Don McLeroy said he and other so-called social conservatives voted against biology textbooks a few years back not because they did not include a discussion of creationism or intelligent design, but because "they did not cover the weakness of the theory of evolution."

Similarly, Hardy said she does not oppose questioning the theory of evolution in the classroom -- and believes that such questioning should remain firmly rooted in science. "But I think you need to keep a clear line between what is religion and what is science," she said.

In voters guides, the state board's social conservative members have expressed opposition to the inclusion of contraceptive instruction in sex and AIDS education, and opposition to the regulation of private schools or home schools. Members of that faction also expressed support for dramatically reducing the Texas Education Agency's authority as well as support for displaying the Ten Commandments in schools.

But other Republicans and even Democrats sometimes have sided with them, said Will Lutz, editor of the weekly Lone Star Report political journal. Neither has the social conservative group voted as a monolithic bloc, he said.

So, like Shackelford, Lutz questions whether a new social conservative majority should be causing so much fuss.

"If the social conservatives get a majority on the board, it means that their agenda will move forward -- however, some of the scare tactics on the left are overboard," Lutz said. "For instance, the [social conservatives] are not thinking about taking evolution out of textbooks. We're going to have health textbooks, but they're going to emphasize abstinence."

He also said the social conservatives have fought against "fuzzy math" textbooks.

But Harvey Kronberg, an Austin-based political analyst, said a Maddox victory could prompt the new social conservative majority to overreach. If the members aggressively pursue their own agenda, they could end up alienating moderate voters, he said.

The result? Potentially a very short-lived majority, said Kronberg, who edits the online Quorum Report.

"It's one of those things where they need to be careful what they wish for -- they might get it all, and they might start delivering, and this might become the year that marks the high point and ending point of social conservative dominance on the board," Kronberg said.

District 11 covers about three-fourths of Tarrant County, plus all of Ellis, Johnson and Parker counties. There is no Democrat running for the position.


Race could tilt Texas state Board of Education in social conservatives' favor

Supporter of creation science could unseat ex-high school teacher

The Dallas Morning News
Tuesday, February 26, 2008

AUSTIN – Social conservatives are moving to secure their first majority on the politically divided State Board of Education, backing an avowed creation-science supporter against a veteran Republican board member in a closely watched Fort Worth-area race.

Board member Pat Hardy, R-Fort Worth, is being challenged in the GOP primary by Cleburne urologist Barney Maddox, a critic of the theory of evolution who calls it a "myth" on a creation science Web site and who once testified that Texas schoolchildren are "brainwashed" into believing in evolution.

Ms. Hardy, a former high school social studies teacher and now a curriculum adviser in the Weatherford school district, is known for being a swing vote on the 15-member board and for leading an effort to require that all high school students take four years of science. She is in her sixth year on the state board.

There is no Democratic opponent in the general election, so if Dr. Maddox won the primary, it would hand social and religious conservatives a majority on the board and potentially trigger an ideological shift affecting textbook selection and the curriculum taught in public schools.

"There is already a seven-member bloc from the far right on the board, and their ability to grow that margin by one could hasten the trend we are already seeing of political ideology taking precedence over needs of our children and their future," said Kathy Miller of the Texas Freedom Network.

Those aligned with social conservatives contend it is their turn to shape education policy in Texas.

"The way it breaks down on almost every issue is 8 to 7, with the other side in charge," said Donna Garner, a former teacher and frequent critic of the board majority.

"If we could get rid of Pat Hardy and elect Dr. Barney Maddox, then the votes would be 8 to 7 in favor of our side. Dr. Maddox has pledged to vote with our side whenever possible," she wrote in a commentary distributed over the Internet.

Dr. Maddox declined to be interviewed.

Ms. Hardy, who touted her own conservative background, said she draws a line when it comes to education in Texas.

"It is about what is best for kids, not what is best politically. I have been in education for 38 years and am extremely knowledgeable in the field," she said.

"My opponent knows nothing about education, except that he got one. That's not a reflection on his person, but he has no experience [in education], and his main interest is in evolution and how to oust it [from schools]. He wants to insert creationism into our classrooms, but the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that you cannot bring religion into public schools."

Campaign finance reports filed this week indicated that Mr. Maddox has a decided financial edge, with expenditures of $61,203 in the last month and $70,000 in loans to his campaign – including $55,000 of his own money. Ms. Hardy's report, on the other hand, indicated expenditures of just $4,017 and $5,850 in campaign contributions.


Duties: Adopts textbooks, approves curriculum standards for all subjects, decides education policy and oversees $25 billion Permanent School Fund

Membership: 15 board members, with seats now held by 10 Republicans and five Democrats

Elections in 2008: Seven members are up for election, but only two – Mary Helen Berlanga, D-Corpus Christi, and Pat Hardy, R-Fort Worth, have opponents in the party primaries. Ms. Berlanga is opposed by Lupe Gonzalez of Mission, and Ms. Hardy is opposed by Barney Maddox of Cleburne.


Teaching of evolution may be affected

Outcome of election could determine how subject taught

Staff and Wire Reports
Corpus Christi Caller-Times
February 26, 2008

Just two seats on the 15-member State Board of Education are being contested in the March 4 primary, but the results of the races could shape the outcome of a brewing battle over how evolution is taught in Texas public schools.

Local voters will have a say in one of those races -- District 2 -- a large South Texas district that includes Corpus Christi.

Incumbent Mary Helen Berlanga, a Corpus Christi attorney and 26-year board veteran, faces longtime Rio Grande Valley educator Lupe A. Gonzalez, of Mission. The winner of the primary will face Peter Johnston, who is running unopposed on the Republican primary ballot.

The board sets school curricula, selects textbooks and manages the $25 billion Permanent School Fund.

"When you think about the fact that the State Board of Education in Texas determines what every child in Texas public schools will be taught in K through 12, the impact that those members have is extraordinary on the future of Texas," said Kathy Miller, executive director of the Texas Freedom Network, which monitors religious teachings in public schools. "These races are absolutely critical."

In addition to English, science curriculum standards are scheduled to be reviewed this year and observers expect a push from conservatives on the board to water down the teaching of evolution in classrooms as well as in textbooks.

Curriculum standards set by the board go beyond the text book. Last year, the board mandated an extra year of science and math curriculum at the high school level.

For local districts, including the Corpus Christi Independent School District, that meant shifting schedules and course offerings.

"Under the new 26-credit requirement, opportunities to take elective courses are limited," CCISD Superintendent Scott Elliff said. "Therefore, all districts, including CCISD, are exploring ways to maximize credit earning opportunities for students, including extended days, block schedules, eliminating 'local credit' courses, and/or moving some course offerings to middle school."

The State Board of Education functions in much the same way as a local school district, but on a larger scale, Elliff said.

"They relate to the Texas Education Agency in the way local school boards relate to school districts," he said.

"In addition to establishing policy, they make critical decisions related to the state-mandated curriculum, establishment of standards under the accountability system and sanctioned instructional materials."

State board of education

The State Board of Education is a policy-establishing board comprised of 15 elected officials representing various regions carved into districts with comparable population.

The board sets school curricula, selects textbooks and manages the $25 billion Permanent School Fund.

The board’s decisions, along with those of the state commissioner for education and the Texas Education Agency, directly impact more than 1,227 Texas school districts and charter schools and more than 4.5 million Texas students, according to the Texas Education Agency.

Terms are four years and the board is required to meet quarterly in Austin.

Mary Helen Berlanga
Age: 60
Occupation: Attorney

Education: The senior member of the State Board of Education, Berlanga has served on the board since 1982. She has served on the board’s instruction, students, and Permanent School Fund committees.

1. What are some of the challenges you foresee facing the Texas education system in the next few years.

Our goal in education should include helping students develop good character, self respect and respect of others. We also cannot ignore the demographics and the evolving student population. We have 2,118,787 Hispanic students in our Texas schools along with 1,631,680 white students and 660,785 African American students. The Hispanic population is the only one growing and our state had basically dismantled all monitoring systems. ... The professionals and experts are non-existent in bilingual education and English as a Second Language education. The professionals in this area of education address the linguistic and academic needs of very special and vital student populations in our Texas public schools. This lack of attention to the research and demographic realities will only increase the numbers of students falling through the cracks and (who will) be labeled at risk, another special population.

We need to convince the Legislature that we are over-testing. We need to return to the idea that testing should be done to evaluate a student’s progress, analyze his strengths and weaknesses so teachers can better influence the progress and development of their students. This is the only testing we should be doing with K-12 students.

2. Do you believe that textbooks used by Texas school children adequately reflect Texas history? If not, how do you intend to change that?

In many cases, the authors of Texas History are individuals who live out of state and have some varying degrees of knowledge about Texas history. This has to change. I have brought about some awareness by convening researchers, academicians and authors at symposiums held throughout the state. We are currently working with English teachers from Texas who have developed the English language arts and reading standards. We have to do the same things in history. We will allow input from the teachers, educators, parents and the business community.

3. How do you think the Texas school system will be influenced by the debate between creationism and evolution?

It is the job of public schools to teach accurately what science has discovered about the world and universe we live in. As one of my constituents so aptly put it, leaving God out of science does not make it “atheistic” as some would claim. It simply means that God is beyond the scope of empirical scientific investigation and, therefore, is not part of science. When the State Board of Education considers the science curriculum and the textbooks to be used in public schools, I hope we will leave the teaching of creation to the church and use the classroom to teach accurately what science has discovered.

Lupe A. Gonzalez
Age: 64
Occupation: Retired

Experience: Gonzalez has worked in education for more than 35 years serving as a teacher, assistant principal, principal and administrator in the Rio Grande Valley. He served as superintendent of schools in the Mission school district.

1. What are some of the challenges you foresee facing the Texas education system in the next few years?

A). No Child Left Behind. The purpose for this initiative has always been to improve student achievement. Major revisions need to be made to this in order to attain the stated objectives without making it almost impossible for some of the special populations to succeed.

B). School safety. School personnel have to constantly ensure that schools provide a safe haven from terrorists, shootings, etc..., for all students.

C). Poor children are most likely to be taught by the newest and least-qualified teachers.

D). Recruitment and retention of teachers to overcome the teacher shortage in Texas is a no-brainer.

E). Revisiting the current state funding plan for public education. This is a very touchy issue with strong arguments coming from both property-rich school districts and property-poor districts. Aside from all existing laws, it is the moral, legal, and ethical responsibility for Texans to guarantee every child in Texas is entitled to the best education possible without regard to the school district (property-rich or poor) where the child resides.

2. Do you believe that textbooks used by Texas school children adequately reflect Texas history? If not, how do you intend to change that?

No, I do not believe that textbooks used by Texas school children adequately reflect Texas history, especially regarding the recent findings in social studies textbooks that no mention is made of the role that Hispanics played in the Texas fight for independence. If elected to the State Board of Education, I would try my very best to ensure that all textbooks adopted by (the board) are as accurate and factual as possible.

3. How do you think the Texas school system will be influenced by the debate between creationism and evolution?

I believe that a compromise to the debate between creationism and evolution is possible and necessary, and I believe that this compromise (in very simple terms) can be attained if our biology textbooks give equal weight and consideration to both theories. I say this because the best information I can find related to this matter indicates that (for lack of any better criterion to use) there is no scientific proof to absolutely show beyond any reasonable doubt that one theory is the absolute truth. Until this matter is resolved, this debate will continue to divide our great citizens of Texas and will continue to take up much time, resources and efforts of individuals, groups and state agencies, as well as the courts.

Contact Adriana Garza at The Associated Press contributed to this report.


State Board of Education race evolves into key vote for science

Steve Blow, Columnist
Dallas Morning News
Wednesday, February 27, 2008

We're all mesmerized with the presidential race right now. But an obscure race in a few neighboring counties may have a huge impact on Texas.

Especially on Texas schoolchildren.

Let's forget Obama and Clinton, McCain and Huckabee for a moment and talk instead about Barney Maddox and Pat Hardy.

I'm guessing those names don't ring many bells.

They are the candidates in the Republican primary for District 11 on the State Board of Education.

And I'll bet I've really got your pulse pounding now, huh? District 11! State Board of Education!

Yeah, political excitement just doesn't get any better than that.

This time, however, that humble race really matters. If Dr. Maddox, a Cleburne urologist, succeeds in unseating Ms. Hardy, a Weatherford educator, the whole political balance of the state board could shift.

And that's when God shows up in the science books.

Dr. Maddox is on record as referring to the theory of evolution as "a myth" and "a fairy tale."

That will come as news to the vast majority of scientists, who tend to use words like "foundational principle" and "overwhelming evidence" when discussing evolution.

Nevertheless, seven members of the 15-member State Board of Education have sought to muddy the water by introducing creationism into science classrooms in Texas. A victory by Dr. Maddox would give them a majority.

Let me stop a moment and make clear that Ms. Hardy is no free-thinking liberal. She's a rock-solid Republican and dyed-in-the-wool Southern Baptist who firmly believes God is behind all of creation.

She just thinks science ought to be taught in science class and religion in church – or synagogue or mosque or home or wherever a family chooses.

"Every religious group has different beliefs," Ms. Hardy said. "We have to be a respecter of all the different kinds of people who are in our public schools today."

But Dr. Maddox seems less concerned about all that. According to press reports, he strongly supports displaying the Ten Commandments in public schools.

I would love to tell you more of what Dr. Maddox believes, but he doesn't do interviews. Several reporters covering the race have tried, but Dr. Maddox did not return phone calls.

When I called his office yesterday, an assistant said he does not take nonmedical calls there.

"He seems to be running a stealth campaign," Ms. Hardy said. And she's a little unnerved by that.

"I really am worried," she said. "I don't know what to expect."

Campaign finance reports give her cause for worry. My colleague Terry Stutz reported this week that Dr. Maddox has spent $61,203 in the last month and has $70,000 in loans to his campaign. Ms. Hardy has spent only $4,017 from $5,850 in contributions.

Ms. Hardy has seen a campaign flier that Dr. Maddox distributed. She said it leads her to believe he has been badly misled about Texas schools.

"I think he's a nice guy. I just think he has been given bad information," she said.

For example, the campaign flier says: "Barney Maddox believes social studies textbooks should devote more space to American presidents than Marilyn Monroe and that the vicious attack of 9-11 should be portrayed as an aggressive act by terrorists, not an American conspiracy."

Ms. Hardy said she's floored by something so preposterous. She said she doesn't know of a single textbook giving Marilyn Monroe more play than the presidents or even hinting that the 9-11 attacks were an American conspiracy.

"There's not a teacher around who wouldn't be appalled if Marilyn Monroe and 9-11 were portrayed in such a way," she said.

Of course, in politics, innuendo is sometimes more powerful than truth.

District 11 includes most of Tarrant County and all of Ellis, Johnson and Parker counties. Let's hope Republican voters there are looking beyond the top of the ballot.


Texas Follow-Up

Science & Religion Today
Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Fort Worth-area seat on the Texas State Board of Education will be contested in the March 4 primary, and the outcome could upset the balance of a board that's now said to be split 8-7 on almost every issue, including the teaching of evolution. The race for the swing vote will be between Dr. Barney Maddox, a urologist from Cleburne, and incumbent and former teacher Pat Hardy, both Republicans (there is no Democratic opponent in the general election). Hardy, who's in her sixth year on the board, is known as a strong supporter of sound science. (Even though she believes God is behind creation, she feels religion, including creationism, should be kept out of the science classroom.) According to reports, Maddox, on the other hand, is an outspoken critic of evolution, in the past calling it both a "myth" and something students are "brainwashed" into believing. According to the Institute for Creation Research's Web site, Maddox authored the biological sciences course material for the Creationist Worldview distance education program offered by ICR. (The ICR, which recently moved to Texas from California, is currently seeking state accreditation to offer an online master's degree program for science education.) The outcome of the primary, it's believed, could also determine the future of the state's curriculum and textbook choice, both of which are decided by the board.


Area's seat on state education board up for grabs

Jennifer L. Berghom
February 29, 2008

Name: Mary Helen Berlanga
Age: 60
Occupation: lawyer, Bonilla and Chapa PC
Family: married, four children, two grandchildren
Education: bachelor's degree from University of Houston and law degree from South Texas College of Law

Name: Lupe Gonzalez
Age: 64
Occupation: president, Gonzalez and Associates Educational Consulting Co.
Family: married, one child
Education: bachelor's and master's degrees in mathematics from Pan American University (now University of Texas-Pan American), certification for superintendent, certifications for mathematics, English, secondary school supervision and management.

MISSION -- The race for the Democratic nomination for the Texas State Board of Education's District 2 seat hasn't been this region's most attention-getting contest this election cycle, but that hasn't deterred the candidates.

Former Mission school district superintendent Lupe Gonzalez is seeking to unseat longtime incumbent Mary Helen Berlanga, a lawyer from Corpus Christi.

Texas' primary is Tuesday.

The 15-member Board of Education sets the policies that govern educational programs and services offered by the state's public schools, according to the Texas Education Agency. District 2 encompasses parts of Hidalgo County, as well as the counties of Cameron and Willacy and other counties along the Gulf Coast stretching northward to near Houston.

Gonzalez would like to improve communication between the board and local school districts, as it seems there has been little if any of that during the three decades he has worked in education, he said

"In talking with all the superintendents in the (Rio Grande) Valley, most have heard of (Berlanga's) name but never met her. That tells me, if anything, the lines of communication are closed," he said.

Berlanga denied Gonzalez's claim, saying she has made several trips to school districts throughout the Valley and to the Region One Educational Service Center during her tenure.

Region One is part of a statewide system of 20 centers that help school districts improve student performance, operate efficiently and effectively, and carry out the mandates of the Texas Education Agency and the Texas Legislature. It serves 37 school districts and 24 charter school campuses in a seven-county area that includes Cameron and Hidalgo counties.

The state does not allow the Board of Education to interfere with how local school districts operate, Berlanga said, so her visits to schools and district offices throughout South Texas can only be to observe what programs they have implemented.

Gonzalez, who now runs an educational consulting firm, said his experience as a teacher, principal and superintendent would benefit to the board.

Addressing teacher salaries and funding for schools would be among his top priorities if elected, he said. He added that he would urge the Legislature to consider setting up an independent commission to explore the best way to distribute funding for all school districts.

Berlanga was first elected to the board in 1982.

She said she decided to run then because she had children about to start school and wanted to do more to help public education.

Berlanga said she is concerned about the future of the state's education system, which she said is threatened by conservatives who want to take students back at least 50 years with curriculum changes the board is considering that could affect English, reading and science.

She's also worried her opponent's views on the science curriculum would help the conservative members on the board get their way.

"What is unique (about my opponent) is he's running as a Democrat but his ideas are Republican," she said.

Berlanga brought up a recent candidate forum by the Victoria League of Women Voters where she and Gonzalez discussed their views on education. One issue that came up was whether they felt intelligent design or evolution should be taught in schools.

Gonzalez said he told the panel he supported having both intelligent design and evolution taught. Berlanga, however, said she has received numerous requests from religious leaders asking that the state leave teaching religious beliefs such as creation to them.


Huckabee's Texas Evolution

By Hilary Hylton
Time Magazine
Friday, Feb. 29, 2008,8599,1718533,00.html

Even in Texas, where only a couple of weeks ago Mike Huckabee thought he could rely on the heavy Evangelical presence to give John McCain a real primary fight, the Republican race no longer looks like a serious contest. But while Huckabee may no longer be in a position to sway the outcome of the Republican presidential primary/caucus on Tuesday, he does stand to have a profound impact on another crucial, and potentially more controversial, vote that same day.

Next year the Texas State Board of Education will be writing the science curriculum standards for Texas public schoolchildren, and Huckabee may bring enough conservative fundamentalist voters to the polls on March 4 to swing the balance of power on the board to the supporters of creationism. "If Huckabee marshals the religious right in Texas, particularly in North Texas, it has profound implications for the state board," says Kathy Miller, executive director of the Texas Freedom Network (TFN), an Austin-based advocacy group whose stated goal is to "counter the religious right" in public policy issues, particularly education.

Huckabee, an ordained Baptist minister who expressed his support for creationism while serving as governor of neighboring Arkansas, has been pressed several times during the presidential campaign for his view of teaching evolution, but has evaded the issue. "It is interesting that question would even be asked of someone running for President of the United States," Huckabee responded in a presidential debate last June. "I am not planning on writing the curriculum for an eighth grade science book -- I am asking for the opportunity to be President of the United States."

Huckabee has focused his Texas campaign on rousing his evangelical core constituency in the Texas Bible Belt -- conservative towns like Tyler in east Texas; Waco, home to Baylor University; Plano, a conservative, affluent Dallas-area community; and Fort Worth, where Huckabee attended the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in the 1970s. It is his efforts in Fort Worth that concern advocates like Miller; there SBOE District 11 member Pat Hardy, a former schoolteacher, curriculum adviser and moderate Republican, is facing a challenge from fellow Republican Barney Maddox, a urologist and ardent supporter of creationism. With no Democratic candidate on the ballot, Tuesday's winner will take a seat on the contentious 15-member board. Maddox, who declines media interview requests, has posted his writings on the web at sites like the Institute for Creation Research and has called Charles Darwin's work "pre-Civil War fairy tales."

Huckabee supporter Kelly Shackleford, president of the Plano-based Free Market Foundation (FMF), dismisses concerns about a conservative takeover of the board, saying the social conservatives on the board are protecting Texas schoolchildren from pernicious liberal influences. But the FMF's primary voter's guide is much more specific, listing "evolution weaknesses" as their first issue of concern for SBOE candidates. As nonprofit groups, both the FMF and the TFN, arch-enemies in the battles before the state board, do not endorse in races, but their advisories on candidates' positions play an important role in swaying voters.

There are a total of seven SBOE seats on the ballot this year, but only two incumbents -- Hardy and a South Texas seat held for 26 years by Democrat Mary Helen Berlanga -- are in contention on primary day. Like most Texas congressional districts -- and board districts are larger -- SBOE seats lean either strongly Democrat or Republican, so any real challenges usually come in the primary. Democrat Berlanga is facing a primary challenge from Lupe Gonzalez, a school administrator who has expressed some support for the theory of intelligent design -- which many critics view as a fig leaf for creationism.

For over two decades, the 15-member elected board has been torn between two factions: in recent years a coalition of five Democrats and three moderate Republicans has managed to hold off efforts by the seven socially conservative Republicans to influence the board's mission. The SBOE debate over creationism and other issues important to social conservatives on the board -- sex education and religion in schools -- is still contentious, but the arguments have become more sophisticated, with no outright call for the banning of evolutionary theory. The debate now focuses on the inclusion of intelligent design to provide a counter to purported flaws in evolutionary theory. "In science class, there is no place for dogma and sacred cows, no subject should be 'untouchable' as to its scientific merits or shortcomings," SBOE chairman Don McLeroy said in a letter to the Dallas News last fall.

In 1995, the Texas Legislature stepped into the fray to diminish the influence the SBOE had on textbook selection after social conservatives tried to impose their values and demands on publishers. Despite the legislature's action, which limited the SBOE to making sure textbooks met curriculum standards and were factually accurate, the SBOE social conservatives have continued to press for more influence. In December, with one member of their opposition missing, the social conservatives pressed one textbook publisher to change the phrase "married partners" in a health textbook to "the lifelong union of a husband and wife."

Given the Lone Star state's influence as the second largest purchaser of textbooks nationally, any changes likely would have had a ripple effect across the country. Miller says she is concerned that if the social conservatives gain the upper hand they may try to reassert that influence by drawing up a conservative curriculum that would necessarily have to be addressed in textbooks. "One vote, one member, could be the difference between kids getting a 21st century science education or a 19th century education," Miller said.

But it is not only the impact of Huckabee's socially conservative supporters on the SBOE election that has raised concerns in some quarters. Longtime Texas Republicans like Royal Masset, a former political director of the Texas Republican Party, fear that if moderate Republicans leave the party to support Barack Obama -- and there is some local polling in major urban areas to suggest that may happen -- it will reinforce the hold the social conservatives and the religious right has on the state party's apparatus.

The complicated primary system used by Texas only heightens moderate Republicans' worries. Unlike the Democratic primary where two-thirds of the delegates are awarded based on the primary voting during the day and a third by the caucuses at night, voters in the Republican primary elect all their presidential delegates during the day's vote. The evening Republican caucuses can only be attended by those who voted during the day and they are reserved for electing delegates to the county and then state conventions, which hold sway over the state party. In recent years, that has led to a dominance of the state party by social conservatives.

"The right wing has been way out of control," Masset says. "It's become a different party and there's a lot of anger." Thanks to leaders like President Ronald Reagan, says Masset, Republicans have won on big issues like taxes and the Cold War, issues that resonated in Texas. "Now, we are stuck fighting the peripheral issues," he adds. "That could mean trouble for [Texas] Republicans two, four, six years down the road."

Questioning whether evolution is true?

Guest columnist: Barney Maddox, M.D.
Cleburne Times-Review
February 26, 2006

This is a reply to Dr. Elam’s letter “Darwin and the Idea of Progress” (Times-Review, Feb. 5). Elam passes along the popular myths that Darwin’s theory of evolution is science, and that modern science conflicts with the Bible. Actually Darwinism sharply conflicts with science.

Is Darwin’s pre-civil war theory, taught as fact to this day, true? Since 1859 a massive amount of scientific data conflicting with evolution has accumulated, and is censored from school textbooks. But Darwin had two theories: microevolution and macroevolution. Microevolution refers to the study of the variants within a species, and is defined as gene shuffling of existing genes or changes of the frequencies of existing genes for variants in a species. New successful variant genes within a species have never arisen at the end of a study that didn’t exist at the start.

Darwin knew he had no evidence for macroevolution so he hitched his observations of microevolution to his fairy tale of macroevolution, giving his theory false credibility. This extrapolation of gene shuffling to macroevolution was indeed a “leap of the imagination.” If I find a penny I can likewise imagine winning the lottery, but that doesn’t make it true, or mean we should teach it in high school.

Science is simply repeatable, testable observation. Speculations about origins is religion, not science, since no human observed origins.

Macroevolution is the atheist’s origin myth, a fairy tale that life arose from non-life naturally and that the first cell evolved into all the various life forms today. No one has ever observed life originating from non-life (spontaneous generation), nor macroevolution in fossils or the living world.

Did Darwin find evidence for evolution (transitional forms) in the fossils? Here is a quote from Darwin: “But as by this theory innumerable transitional forms must have existed why do we not find them embedded in countless numbers in the crust of the earth?” After extensive fossil-hunting for transitional forms linking the major types of animals, an evolutionary paleontologist sums up the evidence. “Even though we have no direct evidence for smooth transitions, can we invent a reasonable sequence of intermediate forms, that is, viable, functioning organisms, between ancestors and descendants? “What good is half a jaw or half a wing?” asks Stephen Jay Gould, late Harvard paleontologist. So much for Darwin’s mythical “mountain of evidence” for macroevolution that Gould and others disingenuously write about in textbooks.

Darwin published in 1859, when scientists thought the “simple” cell was just mysterious cytoplasm. Science has since determined that the “simplest” cell is a world of staggering complexity, with assembly lines, libraries, ion pumps, and even electric motors. Michael Behe, Ph.D., in “Darwin’s Black Box” talks about the electric motor, the bacterial flagellum. The flagellum is perfectly analogous to our own electric motors, yet is 10,000 times smaller than our smallest motor. Cramming more useful function into a smaller volume requires extraordinary creative intelligence, doesn’t it? There’s no way over vast time that random chance could assemble the flagellum piecemeal, since it requires 30 different proteins, all precisely in place, to function. If even one protein is missing, the flagellum won’t function. The first flagellum and the DNA coding for it had to be assembled all at once, by a technology infinitely superior to ours. Doesn’t that sound a lot more like Genesis I than evolution?

There is only one way a lizard could change naturally into a chicken or monkey over time, and that is through random mutations in the DNA. If the DNA doesn’t change the species cannot change. What happens when mutations in DNA occur? In human medicine mutations cause over 3,000 of the worst diseases doctors treat. The biology textbooks refer to “positive” mutations, another evolutionary fairy tale, since unequivocally positive mutations are unknown in nature. Thus macroevolution is not only never observed, it is theoretically impossible.

Science conflicts with the Bible? Creationist Christians like Newton, Pasteur, Kelvin, and Faraday founded modern science! Isaac Newton, the greatest scientist ever, was a young-earth creationist who believed the entire Bible. How could these giants found modern science unless they had the right assumptions about reality? Read “Men of Science, Men of God” by Henry Morris.

Agnostic biochemist Michael Denton, M.D., Ph.D., author of “Evolution: Theory In Crisis‚” like all of us was indoctrinated in evolution. He tried to prove evolution by doing sophisticated enzyme sequencing research to demonstrate “phylogenetic” relationships between different organisms. The data directly conflicted with evolution.

Denton faced a decision. Practice bad science by rejecting the observed data and desperately cling to the crumbling theory, or practice good science by believing the data and questioning and rejecting the false theory. He did the latter. He reviewed all the evidence put forward by evolutionists in support of Darwin’s theory. Here is his conclusion: “Neither of the two fundamental axioms of Darwin’s macroevolutionary theory -- the concept of the continuity of nature, and the belief that all the adaptive design of life has resulted from a blind random process -- has been validated by one single empirical discovery or scientific advance since 1859.”

Fred Hoyle, atheist and renowned physicist, carefully researched the mathematical probabilities of spontaneous generation and concluded, “There must be a God.” Leading English atheist Anthony Flew recently converted to theism because the analysis of DNA, the information system inside cells that is so much more powerful than the most advanced man-made computers, is forensic proof of an Intelligence infinitely superior to ours.

Barney Maddox, M.D., is a guest columnist.


Mutations: The Raw Material for Evolution?

by Barney Maddox, M.D.
Institute for Creation Research [Author]
[Date unknown]

Galen, the personal physician to Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, and his 22 thick volumes of medical treatises dominated medical practice for 1,300 years. In many ways his legacy was disastrous for medicine because no one challenged his teachings. In fact, several of Galen’s errors |in blood circulation| were not pointed out until more than 1,200 years later with the publication |of works by the founder of modern anatomy Andreas Vasalius in 1543|….|T|hus began the first renaissance of medicine.1

The first anesthetic for surgery was delivered in Boston in 1846. Prior to that time patients endured surgery awake and in agony. Imagine if after 1846 surgeons in one state outlawed anesthesia, forbid its practice during their operations, and flunked medical students who promoted anesthesia. The mention of anesthesia would be stricken from medical textbooks, except for derogatory references. The operating room would be a tragic scene of violent thrashing and screams. Surgical complication rates would rise, since surgeries would have to be performed very quickly. When challenged, these surgeons would reply, "Galen said it, I believe it, and that settles it," or "That's the way we've always done it."

Fortunately, the opposite occurred after 1846. The use of general anesthesia caught on very quickly. Today's operating room is calm and efficient, and surgical complication rates are much lower than before 1846, since advances in the science of anesthesia were rapidly applied to surgery.

Correct application of the latest knowledge and techniques in surgical science works today. So why not make similar applications in the forensic science of origins? Darwin published his Origin of Species just before the Civil War. Numerous advances in science since that time bring into question the validity of Darwin's theory, yet biology textbooks today maintain the Darwin mantra, "Darwin said it, I believe it, and that settles it."

Genetics and Evolution

In 1986 I read my first creationist article, written by a biologist. By the time I finished, I knew I could no longer justify my evolutionary thinking. Was it Scripture that convinced me? Actually, no. The author did not mention God or the Bible once. She simply pointed out, armed with modern scientific facts, that practically everything I had learned in medical school--especially in genetics--directly conflicted with Darwin's theory. Consider the fact that Darwin was completely ignorant of genetics, having died before this field was established as a science in 1900. In ignorance, Darwin believed in the inheritance of acquired characteristics--that is, if an animal acquired a physical characteristic during its lifetime, it could pass that characteristic on to its progeny. Of course, it is an established fact that living things can only pass on the genetic information they inherit from their parents. Will a man who loses a leg in an accident have one-legged children? No, his children will have two legs, because although the man's body (or phenotype) changed, his genotype (or DNA) remains the same.

One biology textbook states that "an important point to remember is that the variety of genes carried by all living species is the result of millions of years of random mutation, natural selection, and genetic drift."2 But natural selection only explains survival of the fittest; it fails to explain arrival of the fittest. Natural selection, i.e., the forces of nature, does not change the DNA of the individual animal at all, and can only change the total gene pool of a species by eliminating unfit individuals (leading to the loss, not gain, of genetic information). Genetic drift, or gene shuffling, only involves the shuffling of existing genes within a kind. It does not explain the origination of any gene. Another textbook states: "New alleles |genes| originate only by mutation."3 The only way for organisms to acquire DNA other than what they inherited from their parents is for their DNA to change, or mutate. If their DNA doesn't change, living things could never change regardless of how much time passes. Lizards could never become chickens and monkeys, and fish could never become philosophers. Since evolution rejects purposeful design, genetic change could only be random, or accidental.

"Positive" Mutations

The underlying genetic mechanism of evolution is random mutation, and specifically mutation that is beneficial to life. Biology textbooks in theory present positive and negative mutations to students as though these were commonplace and roughly equal in number. However, these books fail to inform students that unequivocally positive mutations are unknown to genetics, since they have never been observed (or are so rare as to be irrelevant).

The biology textbooks in other chapters teach that most mutations are pathologic, or disease-causing, but they don't apply that information to evolution. The worst diseases doctors treat today are caused by genetic mutations. Nearly 4,000 diseases are caused by mutations in DNA.4 "The human genome contains a complete set of instructions for the production of a human being…. Genome research has already exposed errors |mutations| in these instructions that lead to heart disease, cancer, and neurological degeneration."5 These diseases are crippling, often fatal, and many of the affected pre-born infants are aborted spontaneously, i.e., they are so badly damaged they can't even survive gestation. However, the biology textbooks, when discussing mutation in evolution, only discuss the very rare "positive" mutation, like sickle cell anemia. The fact of some 4,000 devastating genetic diseases is suppressed from publication.

Mutations: the Human Toll

Polycystic kidney disease is a common mutation in humans. It is inherited in autosomal dominant fashion,6 meaning that one copy of the relevant gene received from the parents was mutant and the other copy was normal. The sufferers who inherit the mutated gene may die of kidney failure by late middle age if they don't receive dialysis or a kidney transplant. As the disease progresses, the kidneys are gradually replaced by functionless cysts, which can cause continuous pain and enlarge the kidneys to the point where they bleed, get infections, and may even interfere with breathing.

Another instance of genetic mutation is cystic fibrosis, which is inherited in autosomal recessive fashion, meaning that both of the relevant inherited genes are mutant. Patients with this condition are burdened with mucous-plugging defects in their lungs and pancreas. Beginning in childhood they remain susceptible to frequent, sometimes very dangerous, pneumonias. Insufficient amounts of pancreatic enzymes are available to properly digest food, requiring pancreatic enzyme replacements. Sufferers of cystic fibrosis are usually sterile, and may die in young adulthood even with expert medical care.

The recent decoding of the human genome has allowed scientists to determine that cystic fibrosis is caused by a random change of three nucleotides in a gene that codes for a 1480-amino acid-long ion transport protein.7 The human genome has three billion nucleotides, or base pairs, in the DNA.8 Since a random change of three nucleotides in a three-billion-part genome is fatal (0.0000001%), how is it remotely possibly that a chimp could be the evolutionary cousin of a human? The lowest estimate of the genetic differences between our DNA and that of chimps is at least 50 million nucleotides (some estimates of the disparity are much higher). Quantitative information in genetics today is proving evolutionary theory as simply a man-made and irrational philosophical belief.

One top geneticist recently conducted a computer analysis to quantitate the ratio of "beneficial mutations" to harmful mutations.9 Only 186 entries for beneficial mutations were discovered (and even they have a downside), versus 453,732 entries for harmful mutations. The ratio of "beneficial mutations" to harmful mutations is 0.00041! Thus, even if a very rare mutation is "beneficial," the next 10,000 mutations in any evolutionary sequence would each be fatal or crippling, and each of the next 10,000 imaginary mutations would bring the evolution process to a halt.

Equivocally Beneficial

Virtually all the "beneficial mutations" known are only equivocally beneficial, not unequivocally beneficial. In bacteria, several mutations in cell wall proteins may deform the proteins enough so that antibiotics cannot bind to the mutant bacteria. This creates bacterial resistance to that antibiotic. Does this support evolutionary genetic theory? No, since the mutant bacteria do not survive as well in the wild as the native (non-mutant) bacteria. That is, the resistant (mutant) bacteria will only do well in an artificial situation, where it is placed in a culture medium with the antibiotic. Only then can it overgrow at the expense of the native bacteria. In the wild, the native bacteria are always more vigorous than the mutant bacteria.

In humans there is one equivocally beneficial mutation, out of 4,000 devastating mutations: sickle cell anemia. It is inherited in autosomal recessive fashion and occurs mainly in individuals of African descent. It has been traced to a mutation of one nucleotide in a gene coding for hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen in our blood. Normal red blood cells may sickle in the heterozygote (sickle trait, with one mutated and one normal gene) or the homozygote (sickle disease, with two mutated genes), but sickling is more likely to occur in the homozygote. Normal red cells are round, but sickled red cells are misshapen, like sickles. Sickle crisis occurs when red cells sickle and clog the arteries to parts of organs. Organs then undergo infarction (death from lack of blood supply). Without medical support the homozygotes are likely to die in young to middle age.

But there is one positive. Heterozygotes in Africa, where malaria is endemic, are more resistant to malaria than people with normal hemoglobin, and the heterozygote genotype may have a survival advantage, but only in those areas. Could this be a limited example of evolutionary progress? Not really. When the mutant sickle gene is latent (i.e., sickling isn't occurring), there is a survival advantage in areas with malaria. But whenever sickling occurs, in the heterozygote or the homozygote, it obstructs blood vessels and causes pain and death to organs.

According to evolution, all genes that are expressed are merely mutations. Actually, the expression, not just the latency, of all our genes is positive when expressed. Sickling is always negative when it occurs, so it remains a very poor example of evolution, and in fact refutes it. Evolution theorists have yet to demonstrate the unequivocally positive nature of a single mutation.

Random Change Destroys Function

The mutations described above are those that, when expressed, cause phenotypic (physically observable) changes in organisms. However, the majority of mutations are "neutral mutations" that do not cause any detectable change in the phenotype or body of the animal. These mutations can only be detected by DNA sequencing and are not candidates for evolutionary processes at all. Since there is no phenotypic change, natural selection cannot even remotely select for them. And they are not totally neutral, but are rather subtly deleterious because they degrade the genetic code. A better term for these neutral mutations is "near-neutral." Research is demonstrating that the "near-neutral" mutations are accumulating far too rapidly for organisms to have avoided extinction if they indeed have existed over the millions of years claimed by evolutionary biologists.10 Harmful mutations destroy the individual organism, preventing the gene from being passed on. The "neutral mutations" will ultimately destroy entire species, because the mutated genes will be passed on and accumulate.

Evolutionary science teaches that all the wonderful organs and enzymes in humans and animals--eyes, hemoglobin, lungs, hearts, and kidneys, all coded with DNA--arose totally by random chance through mutations in DNA. Consider the construction and operation of a machine. If random changes are made to a machine or the blueprint that codes for the construction of the machine, will that help its function? Absolutely not. Random changes occur every day that destroy the manufacture and function of machines. Likewise, random changes to information destroy the function and outcome of that information.

Observational (i.e., scientific) evidence, as seen in medical research every day, leads one to be skeptical of the claims of evolutionary biology. How does science explain that mythical first bacterial cell three billion years ago? Did it transform itself--by random mutations in the DNA--into all the "wondrous profusion" of life forms (one million species), and all their wondrous functional organs, over an imaginary time period? The evidence says no.

Firing a Gunshot

"A mutation that alters a protein enough to affect its function is more often harmful than beneficial. Organisms are the refined products of selection, and a random change is not likely to improve the genome anymore than firing a gunshot blindly through the hood of a car is likely to improve engine performance. On rare occasions, however, a mutant allele |gene| may actually fit its bearer to the environment better and enhance the reproductive success of the individual."11

While instructing students that harmful mutations were more numerous than "beneficial" mutations, this textbook failed to disclose that even equivocally beneficial mutations (which still have a downside) are extremely rare (about one in 10,000), and that unequivocally beneficial mutations are nonexistent in nature. There may be a few times when the gun was fired through the hood and resulted in no immediate harm to the engine. However, improving the engine in this manner would be impossible.

In the twentieth century many genetic researchers tried to "accelerate evolution" by increasing mutation rates.12 This can be accomplished with ionizing radiation, like x-rays, or chemical mutagens. Researchers gave plants and fruit flies very high doses of radiation or other mutagens in hopes that new life forms, or at least improved organs, would result. Decades of this type of research resulted in repeated failure. Every mutation observed was deleterious to the organisms' survival. In the fruit fly research13 various mutations occurred--like legs coming out of eyes--but not one improved mutation was observed. Why? Because radiation is harmful, as the signs in hospitals warn pregnant patients. The pre-born child is more sensitive to mutagens, and thus has a higher likelihood of being harmed.


Carl Sagan, in his Cosmos program "One Voice in the Cosmic Fugue," stated that evolution was caused by "the slow accumulations of favorable mutations." While this may be the current popular theory, real science disagrees. The perpetuation of the Darwin myth clashes with reality--the God-created reality--where living things and their genomes were created "very good" and have degenerated from there. Genetic science demonstrates that the absolutely essential ingredient for the origin of life is an infinite Intelligence. Of all the origin stories, only one contains this essential ingredient--Genesis 1.

Dr. Barney Maddox is a urology specialist in Cleburne, Texas, and author of the biological sciences course material for the Creationist Worldview distance education program offered by ICR.


1 Stolz, M. 2006. Chairman's Corner. THR Physician Connection, 9(4):1.
2 Miller, K. and Levine, J. 1998. Biology: The Living Science. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 271.
3 Campbell, N. et al. 1997. Biology: Concepts & Connections. Menlo Park, CA: Benjamin Cummins, 426.
4 Nora, J. et al. 1994. Medical Genetics: Principles and Practice. Philadelphia: Lea and Feliger, 3.
5 The Human Genome Project. Announcement from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, May 6, 1993.
6 Nora et al, 166.
7 Collins, F. et al. 1990. The cystic fibrosis gene: isolation and significance. Hospital Practice, 25(10):45-57.
8 Ibid.
9 Sanford, J. 2005. Genetic Entropy and the Mystery of the Genome. Lima, NY: Elim Publishing, 26.
10 Ibid, 33-41, 150.
11 Campbell et al, 427.
12 Sanford, 25.
13 Muller, H. 1946. Time, 48(20):38; and Gardner, E. 1964. Principles of Genetics. New York: Wiley, 192.

Last updated: 2008 March 3