What'll It Be, George Clayton? A Further Look at Education Board's "Wild Card."

It took a while for Patrick "Buzz" Williams to get State Board of Education candidate George Clayton on the phone before the GOP primary earlier this month, but he finally did -- long enough to ask the North Dallas High School teacher, then considered a long shot to beat incumbent Geraldine "Tincy" Miller, what, exactly, he stood for. In short: No more teaching to the test, no more politics getting in the way of the kiddos' edumication -- oh, and "it's an impossibility to talk about evolution without mentioning creationism." On March 2, Tincy was out, and Clayton was in -- since he faces no Democratic opposition in the general election.

Which is why today The Texas Tribune takes its own look at "The Wild Card" on the State Board of Education. Will he stand with those on the far right who fought to include creationism in the science curriculum and are leading the charge to rewrite history, or will he indeed bring a veteran educator's perspective to a laughingstock panel that resulted in this Stephen Colbert segment last week? For now, at least, he's backed off what he told Patrick and instead presents himself as The Voice of Reason:

Clayton has no patience for what he calls "all of the nonsense." He says he has no problem with the teaching of evolution in school, and that he would have pushed for the inclusion of Cesar Chavez and Thurgood Marshall in the history curriculum. (Two board-appointed curriculum "expert reviewers," both Christian conservative evangelists, recommend cutting Chavez and Marshall; social conservatives have since assured they will include them.)

"I was taught evolution, and it didn't shake my faith in the Almighty whatsoever," he says. "Should creationism be taught as a counter to evolution? ... No, I don't think so. I think evolution is in the science book -- it should be taught as a science."

"If the members of the board are that politically inclined," Clayton says, "then they need to be in the Legislature, which is the proper forum for that."

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky