MADISONVILLE, TEX. -- As vendors sold yellow "Don't Tread on Me" flags nearby, Texas State Board of Education member Don McLeroy assured a gathering of Tea Party activists one recent evening that President Obama was going to keep his hands off the schools in the Lone Star State.
There would be no bid for Obama's Race to the Top grant program, no endorsement of new math and English standards that Obama backs. And the state school board, under McLeroy's prodding, would continue its push to adopt social studies standards that set Texas apart from other states because, among other changes, they recast sections on the American Revolution to put more emphasis on Christianity and less on the writings of Thomas Jefferson.
"Our children will now study some of the unintended consequences of the Great Society, such as the destruction of the black family," said McLeroy, a compact, enthusiastic dentist who keeps a copy of the Constitution in his breast pocket. "Our students will be taught that this country was founded on biblical principles."
Texas's rejection of federal education initiatives is good politics, analysts say, especially in a primary season in which Gov. Rick Perry (R) fought off a challenger by shifting rightward.
"You get a lot of issues that the other states are facing but not talking about because they want to be eligible for Race to the Top" money, said Sandy Kress, a former adviser to President George W. Bush and one of the authors of the No Child Left Behind Act.