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FOE tTHE PEOPt i ,, 4 ^ ” Ni b Of ” Pitittls /MID i 4WD INV4ST IN THE FUTUV The Texas Observer WITH c..1 CHARITABLE REMAINDER UNITARY TRUST. THAT’S A PRETTY HIGH-FALUTIN’ NAME for when you make a bequest while you are still alive. THE FIRST Go OD THING is that you get the charitable deduction up front and the income from your gift for life. Then, when that inevitable thing besides taxes finally happens, Your gift will help ensure that The Texas Observer keeps on fighting for justice and equality tbr all Texans. If you want to give The Texas Observer a gift that keeps on giving or have questions about your options or how to set up a charitable remainder unitary trust, give us a call: The Texas Observer 512-477-0746 OR 800-939-6620 1111111111%.151 That might be a straw-man argument, but it would be a mistake to think that McLeroy doesn’t believe it. He does. His mind works in an orderly, black-and-white fashion, moving from point A to B to C. He has little respect for scientists like Ken Miller, an orthodox Catholic and popular writer on evolutionary biology who argues that there’s no controversy between evolution and religion. They, McLeroy believes, are inconsistent, and he values consistency above all else. “I would never say that Miller’s not a real Christian,” he says. “I don’t think you have to be one to be the other. But I don’t think he’s very consistent. “That’s why I like Dawkins so much. He at least takes evolution to where it has to leadatheism.” Soon after they were engaged, Nan handed him some books explaining geological phenomena from a creationist viewpoint. McLeroy was initially skeptical”I thought, goodness, I’m engaged to a crazy woman”but he read them, and then he started going with her to seminars on creationism. They presented a world different from any he had thought possible, one thatdespite its foreignnessfelt right. He challenged creationist experts with his doubts about the supposed young age of the Earthwhat about the dinosaurs? what about radiometric dating?but slowly, calmly, he says, they answered his objections. Fleming and McLeroy were married in 1976, and McLeroy started his dental practice in Bryan. He never forgot his desire to see a better educational system. As he read and learned about creationism, he became convinced that evolution was wrongnot just for biblical reasons, but for intellectual ones. He saw it as an unquestionable orthodoxy, crushing independent thought. The story McLeroy tells about why he eventually ran for the state education board has the polished quality of something he tells a lot, a sort of personal origin myth. It’s worth recounting, because it shows how McLeroy’s faith informs his policy decisions in surprising ways. As he tells it, he was working one morning at his practice. A black womana single motherbrought in her young daughter. “The girl was 8 years old:’ McLeroy recalls, “and just smart as anything. She came in, I cleaned her teeththey were in bad shapeand they left, and I never saw her again:’ He pauses. “But after they left, I thought for a long time. I thought, Lord, that little girl is a child of God. She deserves a good life. Well, what’s to guarantee that she’s going to get as good of an education as my sons [who attended Bryan High] got? Who’s going to make sure she has the opportunities to do something with her life?” McLeroy felt the calling, so in 1998, having already served as a trustee for the Bryan Independent School District, he ran for the state board on a platform of textbook reform and “closing the achievement gap” between rich and poor. In 2006, after McLeroy won his third term \(against Democrat Maggie Rick Perry picked him to be chairman of the state board. \(On Feb. 6, Perry reappointed McLeroy as chairman for two more 20 THE TEXAS OBSERVER FEBRUARY 20, 2009