Topeka Some scientists are hoping to derail Kansas State Board of Education member Kenneth Willard's rise to presidency of a national education group because he supports science standards that question evolution.
But Willard said Tuesday that his views about Charles Darwin's theory of evolution - he voted for science standards endorsed by proponents of intelligent design - have nothing to do with the work of the National Association of State Boards of Education.
Willard, a conservative Republican from Hutchinson, is unopposed to become president-elect this year of NASBE, which means he would become the group's president in January 2009. Willard said the effort by some scientists to block his election is "just creativity by some people who are still worried about anybody who has a difference of opinion with Mr. Darwin."
Patricia Princehouse, a professor of evolutionary biology at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, said she hopes states submit write-in candidates. Each state has one vote.
"Whether they count it or not is up to NASBE," Princehouse told The New York Times. "But people do not have to endorse Willard's candidacy."
But NASBE has no provisions to accept write-in ballots, officials said.
Willard said NASBE doesn't deal with evolution and instead provides professional research on issues affecting education, such as the effects of sports and childhood obesity.
Even though the Kansas State Board of Education has had fierce battles between moderates and conservatives, he said, the board has unanimously endorsed him to serve on the NASBE board.
Willard was part of the 6-4 conservative majority on the board during the past two years. The 2006 election led to a 6-4 moderate majority on the board, which in recent months has reversed many of the conservative board's actions.
Jack Krebs, president of Kansas Citizens for Science, which supported evolution science standards, said Willard shouldn't attain a leadership position on NASBE because of the controversy over science and other issues.
Those include Willard's support of hiring Bob Corkins to become education commissioner despite Corkins' lack of credentials in the field, Krebs said. Corkins has since resigned.
"He (Willard) and his cohorts on the old board seemed quite willing to exercise their majority rule to do a lot of things that were not in the best interest of education," Krebs said.
But Krebs said he believes there is no way to block Willard's election as president-elect of NASBE. He added, however, "It's important that other state boards in the country know something about Willard's record."