Governor Perry reappointed McLeroy, an advocate of creationism, as Chairman to a second term to last until February 1, 2011, but on May 28, 2009, the Texas Senate rejected the re-appointment; although the vote was 19-11 in favor with one member abstaining (along party lines; all 19 Senate members voting to reappoint were Republicans, while all 11 Senate members voting to reject and the one abstaining member were Democrats) the reappointment required a 2/3 majority for approval. McLeroy lost re-election to a moderate in the Republican primary in March 2010.
A creationist, McLeroy is known for his criticism of evolution and has tried to convince textbook publishers to demonstrate what he considers the weaknesses of the theory of evolution. The board can refuse to place materials it disagrees with on the state approved list. If school districts want textbooks not on the list, the districts must purchase such materials entirely from their own funds. The SBOE thus selects the textbooks for the entire state's 4.7 million schoolchildren, where in most other states this selection is made in individual school districts. As a result, it "has outsized influence over the reading material used in classrooms nationwide, since publishers craft their standard textbooks based on the specs of the biggest buyers."
According to Kathy Miller, president of the Texas Freedom Network, since his election, McLeroy had dragged the Texas State Board of Education into a series of "divisive and unnecessary culture-war battles". This included McLeroy voting in 2001 to reject the only advanced placement environmental science textbook proposed for Texas high schools even though panels of experts – including one panel from Texas A&M – found the textbook free of errors. Baylor University in Waco used the same textbook.
In 2003 McLeroy led efforts by proponents of creationism and intelligent design to de-emphasize discussion of evolution in proposed new biology textbooks. He was one of only four board members who voted against biology textbooks that year that included a full account of evolution.
Over objections by experts in 2004, McLeroy voted to approve health textbooks that stress "abstinence-only" in regard to instruction about pregnancy and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.
In 2005, McLeroy conducted a sermon in his church, talking about the Board of Education, saying naturalism is "the enemy" and he said: "Why is Intelligent Design the big tent? Because we're all lined up against the fact that naturalism, that nature is all there is. Whether you're a progressive creationist, recent creationist, young earth, old earth, it's all in the tent of Intelligent Design." An mp3 of the sermon remains online as well as McLeroy's powerpoint and notes.
According to a 2008 article in The New York Times, "Dr. McLeroy believes that Earth's appearance is a recent geologic event — thousands of years old, not 4.5 billion. 'I believe a lot of incredible things,' he said, 'The most incredible thing I believe is the Christmas story. That little baby born in the manger was the god that created the universe.'" McLeroy's statements regarding science have been criticized. McLeroy and other Board members who want to challenge evolution have received criticism from more than fifty scientific organizations over an attempt to weaken the currently-accepted science standards on evolution. In particular, biologist Kenneth R. Miller called McLeroy's statements on science "breathtakingly" incorrect.
In March 2008, McLeroy was criticized for racially and culturally insensitive remarks saying: "What good does it do to put a Chinese story in an English book?" he said. "So you really don't want Chinese books with a bunch of crazy Chinese words in them." He later apologized.
In 2009, McLeroy spoke at a board meeting using several quotes from scientists in an attempt to discredit evolution. A biology teacher later found the quotes to be incomplete, out of context, and/or incorrectly taken from a creationist website. McLeroy said that while "some of the material was taken from the creationist site [...] a lot of the quotes I did get on my own."
That single act alone of appointing McLeroy for head of the Texas State Board of Education warrants any derision that I hold for him.