Condoms! Homosexuals! Lesbian Adoption!

After a vicious campaign, the religious right is poised to push its agenda on the State Board of Education

"That has never meant anything other than school-based health clinics," claims Ballard, who says such a requirement would saddle schools with enormous costs. Although she doesn't say so, you don't have to be Jocelyn Elders to figure out what sort of latex and lambskin products Ballard and others who object to Goals 2000 fear would be distributed from school-based clinics. And Ballard did say it in her campaign, claiming that Mary Perkins "wants to emphasize condoms and I want to emphasize calculus."

Annette Cootes, the communications director of the 95,000-member Texas State Teachers Association, says those objections are silly, that there's nothing in Goals 2000 that would require schools to operate health clinics or that would lead to the doling out of condoms to students.

Cootes notes that in Texas the program would allow local school districts to determine how they would use the money to meet the objectives, and she says that most of the grants would probably go to poor districts to hire more tutors or to extend the school day.

"It's the least obtrusive federal program we've ever had," she says.
The new board members, Cootes says, "are just idiots."
Donna Ballard, however, is no idiot. She's energetic and well-spoken and not so easy to caricature. She made her first run for office after several years of going to Austin to attend meetings of the state board, and she's savvy enough politically to couch some of her more extreme beliefs in moderate and thoughtful-sounding rhetoric.

Ballard, for instance, says that she's not totally sold on the idea of school vouchers. But after explaining how she'd first like to see the results of the state's expected experimentation with charter schools, she allows that she's mostly concerned that a vouchers program would result in state or federal control of schools that would be getting the vouchers.

You know, like those little church-based schools that would be receiving taxpayers' dollars but wouldn't have to bother teaching the "pros and cons" of evolution, or that the world is round, for that matter.

One more thing about Donna Ballard: she's dedicated and attentive, something that average Texans who might prefer to be represented by Mary Knotts Perkins haven't been of late.

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