Stevenson, 57, of Tyler, spoke to more than 20 persons at the Wesley House at a "meet and greet" co-sponsored by the Upshur Conservative Coalition and Cherokee Rose Republican Women.
A former member of the board from 1995-99, he is seeking the District 9 seat held by fellow Republican Thomas Ratliff, who is seeking re-election to represent the district's 31 counties.
Stevenson, who is now in the retirement planning and investment business, assailed Ratliff as a paid, registered "lobbyist," and said "that alone disturbs me" since Ratliff is also a current officeholder.
Stevenson said state law prohibits lobbyists from being on the State Board of Education if they have any conflict of interest, and "many East Texans believe there is a definite conflict of interest" in Ratliff's case.
"I think we're in a crisis. I don't think we've got the best man up there," Stevenson asserted. "He's made his living in politics as a lobbyist. . .He's in office representing corporate clients."
The candidate also charged that Ratliff "says he doesn't support federal control (of education), but check his record. . .My opponent is not a conservative." Stevenson said
Stevenson said that when he served on the board more than a decade ago, "I had a consistent, clear conservative voice for East Texas." He charged Ratliff with being "more liberal than the Democrat I defeated in 1994" in the race for the board, and said the incumbent doesn't reflect East Texas values.
Stevenson, who did not run for reelection in 1998, said he would like to focus on three issues: (1) "curriculum and curriculum control"; (2) helping teachers; and (3) helping "forgotten (high school) graduates" who will not attend college by providing vocational and industrial arts courses for them.
He said he was concerned with who controls school curriculum. Stevenson said 44 other states have signed on to the Obama Administration's core curriculum standards program in order to get waived out of the federal "No Child Left Behind" requirements--only to discover that their action stripped them of their rights to regulate their state curriculums.
"There's a major push (for the federal government) to quietly take over our schools," the candidate charged. "I would continue to stand up for the rights of Texas to control Texas schools."
He said special interest groups have focused on Austin because they believe in a nationalized program. And while Ratliff will say "he wants local control. . .(the persons financing him) are on the other side," Stevenson charged.
As for helping teachers, Stevenson said the state needed to get rid of educators "teaching to the test"--that is, devoting their teaching time to make sure students pass state-required achievement examinations.
He said schools are spending 35 of the state-required 180 classroom days preparing for such tests, and that teachers are not leaving school until nighttime because they must do so much paperwork other than grading papers. He called for alleviating paperwork required by the Texas Education Agency and federal government.
As for the "forgotten graduates," Stevenson said only about half of those receiving high school diplomas attend college, but the current education system is trying to take all pupils "and point them to one little box called college." He deemed this unfair to students.
He called for a return to the 1950s and 1960s practices of recognizing that half of students won't attend college. Stevenson called for "more career technology type programs" that give such students "a hope and dream."
He said they could enter such professions as emergency medical technician or certified pipeline welder. "Let's equip them to go out and begin that career," he said.
He noted that one woman had learned how to operate a printing press at a school in a rural area. She has now worked for a newspaper for 18 years as a result of that one course, Stevenson said.
During a question-and-answer period, the candidate expressed concern over a new state law which he said exempts electronic texts from the approval that printed textbooks require from the state education board.
He said parents may not be able to read electronic texts without a computer password, and "you'd better have somebody look at it." Stevenson also said that one of Ratliff's main clients is the major computer-related firm Microsoft, and "he advocated for this bill" exempting electronic texts.