Topeka Sally Cauble, a former teacher and local school board member, is planning a Republican primary challenge of Connie Morris, a conservative and sometimes controversial member of the State Board of Education.
Although the board is split along moderate and conservative lines, Cauble, 54, of Liberal, said she didn't put herself in either camp.
"I'm running on common sense, and I'm a Republican," she said Friday.
A former teacher, Morris defeated 14-year incumbent Sonny Rundell, of Syracuse, in the 2002 GOP primary and wants a second four-year term representing District 5, which includes the sparsely populated western half of the state.
Whoever wins the Aug. 1 primary faces Democrat Tim Cruz, former Garden City mayor, in the Nov. 7 general election.
Five of the board's 10 seats will be filled next year, and four belong to conservatives, including Morris.
That gives moderate Republicans and Democrats a chance to change the 6-4 conservative majority.
Evolution in Kansas
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- KU profs support evolution skepticism (02-21-06)
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- Discovery Institute
- Evolution timeline: Events related to the Kansas controversy
- U.S. District Court Ruling in Kitzmiller et al v. Dover Area School District (PDF)
- Center for Science and Culture: A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism
- Parody: Intelligent Design Society of Kansas
- Mirecki press release (.pdf)
- More evolution coverage
- LJWorld.com's Evolution in Kansas coverage
A native of Dodge City, Cauble said she was an elementary school teacher for 10 years in Fredonia, Wichita and Memphis, Tenn. She served on the Liberal school board from 1989-96.
Although Morris has expressed some controversial opinions during her tenure, Cauble refused to attack her.
"I believe she's doing what she thinks is best. However, there are a few issues I don't agree with her on," Cauble said.
Conservatives want to change the science standards to expose students to more criticism of the theory of evolution. Morris has described evolution as a "fairy tale."
"I believe God created the universe. I taught evolution, and I find the two compatible," Cauble said. "I may teach intelligent design in a philosophy class, but I'm not sure I would put it in the science curriculum."
In 1999, the conservative-controlled board rewrote science standards to delete most references to the theory of evolution, which many scientists and science groups saw as a direct attack by creationists. That made Kansas the focus of international ridicule.
After the 2000 elections, the board had a 7-3 majority of Democrats and moderate Republicans. But the majority swung back to conservatives who unseated moderate Republicans in 2002 and 2004.
Earlier this month, the board deadlocked over whether to recommend that schools districts require students to obtain parental permission to participate in sex education classes or leave it to the districts to decide.
Morris said she's interested in making the parental permission proposal a mandate, perhaps by rewriting the board's regulations on how schools are accredited.
"I believe that's a local issue," Cauble said. "I believe in setting guidelines, and I believe that's the job of the State Board of Education."
As a candidate in 2002, Morris suggested the state shouldn't pay for educating children of illegal immigrants. Hispanics now make up more than 40 percent of the population around District 5's three biggest towns, Garden City, Dodge City and Liberal.
"We're not allowed to pick and chose in public education who we can educate," Cauble said.