Tom Maynard, Rebecca Bell-Metereau lead in Austin area races



a person standing in front of a mirror: Sarah Stannard, adult education coordinator, testifies before the State Board of Education on July 14, 2015. (RODOLFO GONZALEZ / AMERICAN-STATESMAN)


© Rodolfo Gonzalez
Sarah Stannard, adult education coordinator, testifies before the State Board of Education on July 14, 2015. (RODOLFO GONZALEZ / AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Rebecca Bell-Metereau, a Democrat vying for the district 5 seat on the Texas State Board of Education, and Tom Maynard, the Republican incumbent in district 10, were leading in their respective races to represent the Austin area on the board, the latest returns showed Tuesday night.

Bell-Metereau, a Texas State University professor who has previously run for the board, had captured 49% of the votes against Lani Popp, who had 47%. District 5 encompasses southern Travis County and stretches across Hays and Comal counties to northern Bexar County. A Republican currently occupies the seat. There are 10 Republicans and five Democrats on the board currently.

And after trailing for a couple of hours Tuesday night, Maynard, who has served on the board since 2013, had also taken 50% of the votes against Burnett-Webster, a retired school administrator, who had 46% of the votes, as of 10:45 p.m. Tuesday. They are competing to represent district 10, which includes northern Travis County as well as Bastrop and Williamson counties.

More than half of the 15-member State Board of Election seats are up for election this year. Seven of the eight seats are currently occupied by Republicans.

Republicans have long dominated the board, which decides the curriculum taught in Texas public schools, adopts textbooks used in classrooms and oversees the $44 billion Permanent School Fund which backs construction bonds for school districts.

Members in the past have often quarreled politically over how students should learn about certain topics, including evolution, Mexican-American studies, the role of Christianity in the country’s founding and slavery’s contribution to the start of the Civil War. In recent years, board members from both political parties have said they have made strides to compromise on such divisive issues.



Rebecca Bell et al. posing for the camera: Marsha Burnett-Webster, top left, is competing against incumbent Tom Maynard, top right, for the district 10 seat on the State Board of Education. Rebecca Bell-Metereau, bottom left, is running against Lani Popp, bottom right, for the district 5 seat on the State Board of Education.


© Provided by Austin American-Statesman
Marsha Burnett-Webster, top left, is competing against incumbent Tom Maynard, top right, for the district 10 seat on the State Board of Education. Rebecca Bell-Metereau, bottom left, is running against Lani Popp, bottom right, for the district 5 seat on the State Board of Education.

The future board is expected to adopt new textbooks that would cover issues like sex education and evolution.

Bell-Metereau, 70, said she wants to help advance Texas’ interests by investing in our future workforce through collaboration, research and a clear-eyed assessment of best practices around the nation and the world when it comes to education.

Popp, 61, a speech-language pathologist, said she would ensure historically and scientifically accurate and age-appropriate curriculum standards, review textbooks to prevent bias and reform broken state standardized testing system.

Burnett-Webster, 65, had said before the pandemic that her main concerns were about student promotion and graduation requirements, fact-based curricula, diversity in course offerings, school safety, school accountability ratings, public school funding, classroom size and attracting and retaining quality teachers. But amid the pandemic, she said she would focus on improving online learning and access to necessary tech, ensuring adequate personal protective equipment is available in schools and fighting to refocus school standards on learning and not testing.

Maynard, 57, a retired teacher and non-profit executive, said he would work to mitigate the pandemic’s significant disruption of students’ education through advocacy while also looking to navigate the financial strain created by the pandemic. Wants to expand the capacity of the Permanent School Fund, which provides backing for nearly $90 million in locally issued bonds.

Continue Reading

Source Article