Archive for Tuesday, June 14, 2005

State Board of Ed’s Morris causes stir with newsletter

June 14, 2005


— State Board of Education member Connie Morris has issued a newsletter that criticizes evolution as an "age-old fairytale" and describes board members who disagree with her as liberal, rude, disruptive and phony.

Morris, a conservative Republican from St. Francis in western Kansas, on Monday declined to speak with reporters about the taxpayer-funded newsletter, but she was confronted about it by one of the board members whom she criticized - Carol Rupe, a moderate Republican from Wichita.

"You really hurt my feelings," Rupe said to Morris after a board committee meeting at the State Department of Education. The two briefly hugged, but Rupe was still emotional.

"She can say what she wants about her own position, but I don't think it's fair to say that about me," Rupe said.

On two occasions, reporters asked Morris to comment on the newsletter, but both times Morris said she didn't have time because she had to attend meetings in the education building.

'Gutterball politics'

The blistering, four-page letter under state Board of Education letterhead was brought to the attention of the media by board member Bill Wagnon, a Democrat from Topeka, whose district includes Douglas County.

Wagnon, who has often opposed the conservative side of the board, said Morris' comments were hypocritical.

"She has clothed herself in a certain kind of righteousness and refused to admit she is involved in gutterball politics," he said.

The newsletter focuses on the recent fight about science standards in Kansas schools. The 6-4 conservative majority on the board favors standards that criticize evolution.

Morris' comments

In the newsletter, Morris says she is a Christian who believes in the literal depiction of the origin of life contained in Genesis. She said "poor science" insists it has all the answers "with anti-God contempt and arrogance."

She said supporters of evolution were in "panic mode." She described Wagnon as a liberal and Sue Gamble, a moderate Republican from Shawnee, as "continually most disruptive and rude."

She said her favorite "blooper" during board debate on evolution came from Rupe who said "with psuedo-innocence" that she was mystified by opposition to science.

During a hearing last month on the science standards, Morris said opponents of evolution presented extraordinary testimony.

"In short, Darwin's theory of evolution is biologically, genetically, mathematically, chemically, metaphysically and etc. 'wildly' and 'utterly impossible.'"

She said mainstream scientists who boycotted the meeting acted cowardly, and she criticized the media.

She asked her constituents to pray for the conservatives on the board as they fought liberals.

"As we forge every bit of our being for the battles ahead, I humbly ask for your prayers. It's certain you have plenty for which to beseech the Lord - but if you think of us, please request strength, wisdom and courage on our behalf," she wrote.

Morris also wrote about the recent order by the Kansas Supreme Court to increase school funding by $285 million by July.

Discussion expected

She said schools didn't need any funding above the $142 million that Republicans had approved, and she was disturbed that the Legislature had increased funding for non-English speaking students.

Morris has said before she doesn't believe the state should educate the children of illegal immigrants in Kansas.

Wagnon said it was inappropriate for taxpayers to be paying for the kind of message Morris had in her newsletter.

"It's partisan. I think she has crossed the line," he said.

During the full board's meeting this week, Wagnon said he would bring up the issue of newsletter expenses.

Education Department officials said they did not know how much the newsletter cost because they didn't know how many people received it and Morris had not turned in a reimbursement form for it yet. Because it mentions the June 3 state Supreme Court decision on school finance, it had to have been sent recently.


John1945 12 years, 10 months ago

So what? SHe has a right to present her side of things Wagnon is a fascist who's simply trying to silence a political opponent. This article should be about this Mussolini act alike than Morris.

cmbald222 12 years, 10 months ago

Look evolution exists!! plain and simple as sugar water. The planet changes so do the animals that live on at the planet. Also I believe god does play role in evolution. God developed evolution to help him make nessary changes to animal life while Cosmic events ocurr outside of his realm of control or can't stop it from happening. God can't be in every place at one time,but able to listen to all of us at one time.So evolution was made by God.We are just one of his creations that evoled quicker then expected. If he was here he would be semi-happy for us.

bluedog 12 years, 10 months ago

What concerns me is that she used official State Board of Education letterhead and taxpayers are footing the bill for her views, and not the views of the entire board.

John1945 12 years, 10 months ago

The fascists here are clearly Wagnon and the "scientific" community.

Real science isn't afraid to enter into debate, but these cowards lurked around the hallways like old women gossiping over crumpets and tea. And in the end the Darwinian mouthpiece, Pedro Iregonegaray, simply engaged in endless ad hominem attacks against the committee rather than addressing the critiques of Darwin's flawed theories.

The simple reality is that the only answers the so-called scientific community have are censorship and ad hominem attacks and religious bigotry against those who refuse to embrace their unproven theories.

Go back and take a look at the original documents of Darwinian theory to see how racist and anti-Semitic the were. One chart from the guy who made phony charts of fetuses showed Jews as one step above apes.

raubinpierce 12 years, 10 months ago

Two Words: Rita Cline


John Davies 12 years, 10 months ago

Many people believe in the literal truth of a collection of fairy tales passed down from translations of translations and written by "god knows who." This doesn't make it something to force into young minds. If their parents want them to go to church to "learn" these truths then they should take them there. I knew that there were some maniacs on the State School board but this is that fact written with a big indeliable marker!

BunE 12 years, 10 months ago

Clearly Ms. Morris has lost any sense of duty to the Constitution and the education of the children of Kansas . Her "literal" depiction of the origin of life is a religious or philisophical view that while a fine belief to hold, is NOT acceptable as science. She has decided that her views, her theocratic beliefs, trump truth, science and the law.

She is a foolish person who is costing Kansas in more ways than one. She has not won any arguments, she can't even articulate a postition based on the accepted scientific method preferring to couch her arguments in biblical terms, mock those that seek the truth, guilt those who would dissagree, cloud the issue by invoking jesus and preferring to believe in a land of the fairies where the earth is 6000 years old and dinosaurs were nothing more than jesus horses is reality.

This is fine for a private philosphy but not for a member of KSB to put forth as public policy. People can even agree with her views but they can't call it science.

TAFM 12 years, 10 months ago

I don't care what Morris believes in PRIVATE. That is her business. But as a former State employee I find it unconscionable for her to take time away from her job to declare publicly -- and on State Letterhead no less -- that her co-workers are "liberal, rude, disruptive and phony." If she were a peon like I and many of my former co-workers, she would have been put on probation for such a blatant misuse of State resources (at the very least). As it is ... I hope she's fired!

Dani Davey 12 years, 10 months ago

(1) I don't understand why conservatives are so afraid of teaching a scientific theory in schools. Generally by the time you get to highschool biology you're old enough to make you're own belief decisions and I know my teachers were very clear about the fact that they were teaching a theory and that if we chose not to believe it, that was fine.

(2) If you want your kids to be taught the Bible I have two suggestions: send them to private school or teach them yourself.

(3) I am so very saddened by the fact that conservative republicans have turned Kansas into the laughing stock of the world. Yes, the world. BBC has covered stories about our ridiculous antics with evolution, the "sex class scandel" at KU a couple years ago, and our apparent fear of gay people.

Kansas started out as a progressive state and somewhere along the line we got hijacked by the religious right. People, believe what you want, it makes no difference to me, but can we please grow up a little and take back the good name that Kansas was founded with?

Dani Davey 12 years, 10 months ago

Actually wendt, Porkribs is right about the First Amendment thing. There is no defined "separation of church and state" in the First Amendment. What IS in the First Amendment are two clauses pertaining to religion, the establishment clause and the free excercise clause. The free excercise clause says that the government cannot pass any laws that are targetted toward impairing the practice of religion (however if a law is neutrally applied and not targetted at religion, though impairs religion anyway, it's still ok...see State Unemployment Services of Oregon v Smith). The establishment clause says that the government cannot establish or favor any particular religion. This means that the government cannot declare a national religion, give funding to one religion over others, or give any other special treatment to one over others. This DOES NOT prohibit government from participating in religion though, which is why you'll often see City Halls with a nativity scene on the lawn at Christmas time. The only problem that teaching creationism could go, as far as a "church and state" perspective is that you wouldn't be giving equal time to all religions. But you've got the big three covered, since Christianity, Judaism and Islam all basically agree about how we started out.

Frank Smith 12 years, 10 months ago

Some folks think Connie Morris descended from the apes. The apes are asking for a second opinion and are contemplating filing a SS1983 anti-discrimination lawsuit.

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