by Donna Garner
Just when I thought Texas State Board of Education Member Thomas Ratliff could not do anything more outrageous, he has surprised me again.
Thomas Ratliff is a wealthy lobbyist who has worked for Microsoft for over ten years. As reported on the Texas Ethics Commission website, Ratliff has made tens of thousands of dollars from Microsoft and other education-related clients.
The SBOE voted to ask the Texas Attorney General’s office for a ruling on whether Ratliff is eligible to be an SBOE member because of his obvious conflict of interest. The ruling is due from the AG’s office in a few short weeks.
The Texas Education Code -- Subchapter A, Section 7.103 (c) -- clearly states:
(c) A person who is required to register as a lobbyist under Chapter 305, Government Code, by virtue of the person's activities for compensation in or on behalf of a profession, business, or association related to the operation of the board, may not serve as a member of the board or act as the general counsel to the board.
As if to show his utter disdain for the law, Thomas Ratliff voted blatantly at the last SBOE meeting (July 20 - 22, 2011) to approve online materials, all of which are based on Microsoft operating systems.
Some of the science materials prompt the user to "Click here for Microsoft add-ons" which is a specific promotion of Microsoft software and technology that will be required to download in order to run various aspects of the electronic materials.
Ratliff also voted to approve computer technology and computer science courses that use Microsoft operating systems.
Coming up in the September SBOE meeting when the SBOE members are to approve charter schools, several of the charter school applicants plan to use Gates Foundation grants.
Because of the increased emphasis on technology in the public schools, the SBOE is continually involved with decisions involving Gates-Microsoft.
Guess who will make a fortune if the SBOE/TEA increases the amount of its contracts with Microsoft? Thomas Ratliff, of course --
The SBOE is also the caretaker of the Permanent School Fund (PSF). As reported on May 30, 2010, Microsoft was one of the PSF’s top five stocks at $157.16 million.
When questioned about his obvious conflict of interest, Thomas always likes to allude to Will Davis who served on the SBOE some years ago and was a lobbyist. However, there is a huge difference between Thomas Ratliff being a lobbyist for Microsoft and Will Davis being a lobbyist for an insurance company that did not do any business with the SBOE nor the TEA.
Interestingly, it was Bill Ratliff (Thomas Ratliff’s father - a Texas Senator) who was the author of SB 1 that contained the wording found in TEC, Subchapter A, Section 7.103 (c), yet his own son believes it is fine to ignore the wording passed by his father and the Texas Legislature.
Fellow Texans, if you are as outraged as I am over this obvious conflict of interest, please submit your comments about SBOE member and lobbyist Thomas Ratliff to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott. I have posted several articles below that will give you more information, but the main point to make is that Texans expect our elected officials to obey the Rule of Law.
It is permissible to submit your comments by e-mail to the following addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. When I have submitted my comments, I have also asked for a receipt of my comments to be e-mailed back to me.
Please be sure to put the following file number in the subject line of your e-mail and also at the top of your letter: File #ML 4667511, I. D. #46675 -- Thomas Ratliff.
4.3.11 -- “Thomas Ratliff’s Brazen Gall” by Donna Garner --
3.25.11 – “Who’s Behind This Mounting Pressure?”
3.15.11 -- “Thomas Ratliff’s False Sense of Security” by Donna Garner
Thomas Ratliff is also connected to the Harmony Science Academies. Bill and Melinda Gates have given millions to these Muslim Charter schools. Burt Solomon is no better. ~ Georgia Stapleton
Open Records and Conflict of Interest
Ratliff vs. McElroy
There's bunches out there to read on Thomas Ratliff and it goes in every direction imaginable. Just start googling. I find the connection to Bill Gates and the Gulen schools especially interesting what with the rest I know and the establishment of the Harmony charter school in Odessa. ~ Faye