Archive for Thursday, November 10, 2005

Pa. school board vote may be echoed here

November 10, 2005

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On the same day the Kansas State Board of Education approved new science standards criticizing evolution, voters in Dover, Pa., swept out eight conservative school board members who had mandated the teaching of intelligent design there.

"Candidates have been campaigning and getting their message out since before the primary," said Victoria Reiber, chairwoman of the Dover CARES campaign that pushed pro-evolution members onto the local school board after the issue went to federal court. "It was just a grassroots effort - making people aware of the facts."

Dover voters made their choices Tuesday, the same day the Kansas state school board took its action.

An effort similar to Dover's drive to unseat board members may be taking shape in Kansas.


A billboard with the opponents to the current Dover Area School Board is seen Tuesday above Main Street in Dover, Pa. Voters swept out the conservative members of the board.

A billboard with the opponents to the current Dover Area School Board is seen Tuesday above Main Street in Dover, Pa. Voters swept out the conservative members of the board.

"We were following the Dover elections and the case, as well, pretty closely," said Kathy Cook of Kansas Families United for Public Education. "I think you're going to see a coalition of organizations come together to change the makeup of the (Kansas) board in the next year."

Conservatives who dominate the board seemed unconcerned Wednesday about the political fallout in Kansas.

"Pennsylvania and Kansas are different," board Chairman Steve Abrams said Wednesday.

But recent Kansas history suggests conservatives could face a challenge during the next board election, in 2006.

Different reaction?

The last time the Kansas Board of Education tinkered with evolution, removing the matter from science standards entirely in 1999, two conservatives lost their seats during the primary elections. That shifted control of the board back to moderates, who reshaped the standards to reflect a more traditional scientific view.

What's next

Science debate: The State Board of Education has approved new science standards for Kansas' public schools that treat evolution as a flawed theory.

Their use: Developing new tests for fourth-, seventh- and 10th-graders to measure how well schools teach science.

Time lag: The first tests under the new standards won't be given to students until 2008. About 105,000 students will take the science tests each year after that.

The authors: For the tests, WestEd, a nonprofit San Francisco research group, and Kansas University.

Not settled: The drafters haven't decided yet what will appear on the science tests and how many questions, if any, will deal with criticisms of evolution.

Four of the five board seats up for election next year are held by conservatives who voted for the new standards. Three of those incumbents - John Bacon of Olathe, Connie Morris of St. Francis and Iris Van Meter of Thayer - already have challengers.

But conservatives are betting that the new standards, which don't "ban" evolution, but critique the theory, won't provoke the same reaction.

"What actually did happen was so innocuous," said Judy Smith, Kansas director of Concerned Women for America, which supported the new standards. "It just allows for academic freedom for teachers, instead of dogma in science."

Asked whether she worried about a reversal at the polls, Smith said: "Do I worry about it? Yeah, I guess as much as I worry about anything else in an election."

Leaders of Kansas political parties on Wednesday downplayed the 2006 board races, with both Republicans and Democrats saying they want to win those campaigns - but are more focused on statewide and congressional elections.

Not just evolution

Derrick Sontag, executive director of the Kansas Republican Party, noted that conservative Connie Morris faces a primary challenge from former teacher Sally Cauble, who has criticized the new science standards.

"Connie may not be the nominee," Sontag said. "If that's the case, we'll end up helping the nominee, no matter who it is."

With religious conservatives making up a large portion of the Kansas electorate, though, Cook said that moderate candidates will have to broaden their appeal and criticize the current board for other reasons - the hiring of antitax activist Bob Corkins as the new education commissioner, for example, and for pushing vouchers while public schools struggle with funding.

"I don't think we're necessarily just talking about the intelligent design issue," Cook said. "I think those will be key issues that will appeal to all voters, regardless of whether you have a religious background or believe in intelligent design."

Staff writer Scott Rothschild contributed to this story.

Comments

Richard Heckler 12 years ago

Two non partisan organizations which voters can donate campaign dollars:

The alliance, which Hineman said is made up so far of 10 or 12 people from across the state, will kick off a fundraising campaign within the next week. The group's Web site --

www.ksalliance.org

-- describes it as "a nonpartisan grassroots organization" to "promote the election of individuals whose beliefs and objectives are more in line with mainstream Kansans."

http://www.fundourpublicschools.com/aboutus.asp

is another organization to keep in mind for politcal donations this year. Both are very much bipartisan and this group has donated to and endorsed members on both sides of aisle.

coldandhot 12 years ago

Both organizations are liberal organizations. Thats the only kind of organizations Merrill supports. Don't let him fool you with his nonpartisan crap.

KS is different than PA. The candidates up for re-election are from Western KS. The conservatives will retain control. Its too bad we are stuck with Wagnon.

Richard Heckler 12 years ago

I know for a fact that Fund Our Public Schools has Democrats,Republicans and Green Party as members of the board. Not only is it non-partisan it is an extremely moderate group.

The other group originated in western Kansas and was organized by a rancher.

John Bacon is not from western Kansas.

Richard Heckler 12 years ago

I also supported Sen. Nancy Kassenbaum(repub) over the democratic challenger. Picking the best candidate is what produces the desirable result.

Shardwurm 12 years ago

The sky is falling in Kansas. What a catastrophe.

If this is all we have to get our dander up then I'm really happy to live here.

You could teach my children that the Spaghetti Monster created Mankind and it wouldn't matter.

See, my wife and I are responsible for the education of our children, not the State of Kansas. We accept that responsibility and will use whatever is taught in the classroom to facilitate our discussions.

You people are really funny. I'm sure a lot of 'Biological' companies are put off by this. LOL. Like we were going to get that kind of industry here to begin with.

Beyond Evolution, much of what is taught in our schools is crap and we're not that upset about it.

Jamesaust 12 years ago

Of course, direct campaign contributions to their opponents are always possible as well. Challengers in obscure races against incumbants are always desperate for cash. (Or, considering Bacon is right next door - volunteers.)

The attempt to downplay the PA connection doesn't work. As James Carville, Democrat party campaign advisor, explained in 2004 about his - successful - efforts to carry the commonwealth for Kerry (more colorfully than I'll relate here), Pennsylvania is liberal in Philly and kinda liberal in Pittsburgh, but everything in the middle is "Alabama." The school district in question here is right in the middle of "Alabama" Pennsylvania. Locals were actually quite surprised that all the quacks lost their races.

hobb2264 12 years ago

Which of the "Additional Specificity" items in the new standards dogmatically cries out Intelligent Design?

Kodiac 12 years ago

Hobb2264:

"The sudden rather than gradual emergence of organisms near the time that the Earth first became habitable."

This statement is a lie. Do I need to explain why an ID might want this statement in there?

Kodiac 12 years ago

Hobb2264:

"Whether microevolution (change within a species) can be extrapolated to explain macroevolutionary changes (such as new complex organs or body plans and new biochemical systems which appear irreducibly complex) is controversial. These kinds of macroevolutionary explanations generally are not based on direct observations and often reflect historical narratives based on inferences from indirect or circumstantial evidence."

Another lie. The terms "Irreducibly complex" is a ID/creation term which is directly connected to the dogmas of ID/creationist.

Densmore 12 years ago

From the New Republic on-line:

HURRICANES FORECAST FOR CENTRAL PENNSYLVANIA: As I noted yesterday, the citizens of Dover, Pennsylvania, voted to get rid of the school board members who required biology students to hear a statement about intelligent design. But now, having taken care of one problem, they need to be on the lookout for another. On yesterday's "700 Club" Pat Robertson offered this warning:

"I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover, if there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God, you just rejected Him from your city. And don't wonder why He hasn't helped you when problems begin, if they begin. I'm not saying they will, but if they do, just remember, you just voted God out of your city. And if that's the case, don't ask for His help because he might not be there."

Kodiac 12 years ago

This is the beginning of the standards which says that the student...

"understands biological evolution, descent with modification, is a scientific explanation for the history of the diversification of organisms from common ancestors"

This is macroevolution people. But then this document proceeds through the whole additional specificity section trying to dispute this statement by saying there is no evidence for it or it is disputed. There is an underlying dogmatic agenda here and clearly shows how poorly written the standards are. You will not find these types of statements in peer-reviewed scientific publications or research because they do not stand-up to scientific scrutiny.

hottruckinmama 12 years ago

densmore..its funny how all these religous people say all this bad stuff is a punishment from god. i on the other hand wonder about this: maybe all of it is punshment because we were dumb enough to put a FALSE PROPHET in the white house??

yourworstnightmare 12 years ago

Kodiac,

Dead-on about the "irreducible compexity" nonsense. Alot of it is just outright misrepresentation actual data, and the rest of it does not account for changes in organisms over time or the fact that few if any "new body plans" (phyla) have emerged in the past 500 million years. Since the Cambrian, much of speciation has apparently resulted from what Monod called "tinkering". A squid did not evolve into a cat, for example.

Internal combustion engines once worked fine without fuel injection, but remove the fuel injectors from a modern engine and the engine won't work.

tell_it_like_it_is 12 years ago

Mama..I have wondered the exact same thing. They say people get the goverment they deserve...boy did we ever!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years ago

Actually, wendt, the correct form is "different from." I feel safe in pointing that out to you, since you won't find some passage in the Bible betraying me as a sinner for pointing that out.

Richard Heckler 12 years ago

From a national chat board with particpants from all over the USA. Yep many are watching.

If I understand this correctly, school authorities in Kansas voted to allow for the continuation of evolution but with this caveat: students must be told that evolution is "flawed."

This is creationism through the back door, and allows for its on-going presence. Generations of children will be indoctrinated with the tripe that "God created the heavens and the earth in seven days."

They should name Kansas the bumpkin state. It certainly deserves that moniker. I would have thought after the Scopes trial . . . but no, Kansas lacks introspection and vision. Goes to show you the genetic deficiency in the midwest. It all makes sense to me; I now understand why Kansas is a backward red state, and continually supports a rearward-thinking, mulish simpleton in the White House.

The religious right and republicanism = regression and reaction.

Calliope877 12 years ago

Wendt,

Oh goodie! Pat Robertson had a meltdown? I can't stand that fundamentalist loser.

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