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LJWorld.com weblogs Congressional Briefing

Eyes of nation on today's Kansas school board elections

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Instead of looking to Washington, we'll look at how the rest of the world is viewing us today.It's election day in Kansas, after all, which means we're at the next turn in the state's evolution debate. And the eyes of the nation are upon us.[The New York Times][1] reports: "God and Charles Darwin are not on the primary ballot in Kansas on Tuesday, but once again a contentious schools election has religion and science at odds in a state that has restaged a three-quarter-century battle over the teaching of evolution. ...."The Kansas election is being watched closely by both sides in the national debate over the teaching of evolution. In the past several years, pitched battles have been waged between the scientific establishment and proponents of what is called intelligent design, which holds that nature alone cannot explain life's origin and complexity. ..."A defeat for the conservative majority in Kansas on Tuesday could be further evidence of the fading fortunes of the intelligent design movement, while a victory would preserve an important stronghold in Kansas. ..."Last year's changes in the science standards followed an increasingly bitter seesawing of power on the education board that began in 1998 when conservatives won a majority. They made the first changes to the standards the next year, which in turn were reversed after moderates won back control in 2000. The 2002 elections left the board split 5-5, and in 2004 the conservatives won again, instituting their major standards revisions in November 2005."[The Washington Post][2] adds: "Evolution's defenders, working to defeat Kansas Board of Education members who oppose modern Darwinian theory, are challenging three incumbent Republican conservatives and the political heir to a fourth in Tuesday's primary."A shift of two seats to moderate Republicans -- or to Democrats -- in November almost certainly would lead to a reversal of state science standards celebrated by many religious conservatives and reviled by the scientific establishment."With turnout expected to be low, neither side is making confident predictions about the state's latest skirmish at the intersection of science, religion and politics. The board's majority shifted to the moderate side in 2000 only to swing back in 2004."The Post article details how non-Kansans on both sides of the issue have tried to influence the election:"The Discovery Institute, a Seattle think tank best known for backing 'intelligent design,' the idea that a creator plays a central role in natural development, is running radio advertisements in support of the standards. ... The editor of Scientific American, John Rennie -- who has described the board's conservatives as 'six dimwits' -- posted on a blog to urge Kansas voters to defeat board members 'who have inflicted embarrassing creationist nonsense on your home's science curriculum standards.'"How to contact As always, you can find information to contact members of the Kansas congressional delegation [here.][3] [1]: http://www.yahoo.com/ [2]: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/31/AR2006073101014.html [3]: http://ljworld.com/extra/where_to_write.html#fed

Comments

prioress 7 years, 8 months ago

deepthroat: "Keep what is taught in PUBLIC schools religion neutral. Then if a parent wants his/her child to learn about God, the Bible, creationism, etc. SEND THEM TO CHURCH!!!" +++++++++ Good point: Here's the deal. Preachers--stay out of the schools during the week with your phony claims; Teachers--stay out of the pulpits on Sundays and don't show up at services to give biology lessons. We should all get along fine!

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Frank Smith 7 years, 8 months ago

The radical fundamentalists lost two seats tonight. Their majority is kaput, though lame ducks Morris and Van Meter will serve until January. In November, there is a good chance that they may lose another two seats. Let's hear it for sanity and the First Amendment!

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deepthroat 7 years, 8 months ago

Satchel,

I'm not afraid to examine the Bible's claims...that's why I attend church every week! PUBLIC SCHOOLS are not the appropriate place to bring faith into what is being taught to EVERYONE! Why should a child who is Jewish or a Muslim be FORCED to learn about science from a CHRISTIAN perspective? Are you also condoning that science be taught from the perspective of EVERY OTHER religion??? You wouldn't have time to get to the science portion.

Keep what is taught in PUBLIC schools religion neutral. Then if a parent wants his/her child to learn about God, the Bible, creationism, etc. SEND THEM TO CHURCH!!!

Why is that SO difficult for people in this country (and especially Kansas) to grasp???

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Richard_Poore 7 years, 8 months ago

Believe it or not, but evolution, God, nor intelligent design are the issues at play here. The present ruling majority along with the "commissioner" are dedicated to the demise of public education, plain and simple. This majority works from a dominionist perspective, meaning that the Kingdom of God is to be put into place now, and under their interpretation and administration. Think about it. Democratic, pluralistic, common schooling available to all - free from the intrusion of religious ideology is what this ruling majority wants done away with. No thanks. These folks do not deserve to be on the State Board of Education. They have failed the educational needs of our children and our teachers miserably. Send them packing. Please lend your support to Janet Waugh. She has courageously stood-up to this reckless majority for the past two years and needs our support now.

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satchel 7 years, 8 months ago

It is a sad day indeed when we spit at God in the face, and won't allow even the remotest 'possibility' that there is a 'creator'. This whole ordeal is about challenging darwinism- that is it. Unfortunatly, this has nothing to do with creationism! It doesn't even open the door.. IT CAN'T! Not in this day and age due to the mis-interpretation of the seperation of church and state. The whole deal was to challenge Darwinism, that is all. Not put a bible on everyone's desk. You all are villifying these board members because they want evolution to be challenged and to give our kids an open mind to every possible theory that is all. I am sure there are kids who will discount the bible..

If the bible is so stupid and not worthy of examination, then why are you so afraid of examining the claims it has to our existence? If it has no creedence, then your kids will believe it has no creedence and you don't have to worry about it. Are you afraid your kids can't make up their own mind?

I know kids who were brought up in Christian homes, who grow up not believing, and I know kids who were brought up in these homes who do believe. In the end, they make up their own mind regardless. It is not the teachers or the parents who turn their hearts much like it is with Islam, but it is the kid who chooses what they want to believe after examining all the evidence.

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usaschools 7 years, 8 months ago

Jayhawk226 is entirely right. I would add that we NEED intelligent, dedicated, innovative, hardworking people to work in underperforming schools and districts. We don't need morons like Jessie Hall to be on the State Board of Education, but the performance of the district that employs him says little if anything about his qualifications.

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Jayhawk226 7 years, 8 months ago

KMAT--

I do have one major problem with your logic there.

I am a special education teacher in the KCK district, entering my 3rd year.

I work in a middle school that has been the worst-performing middle school in the entire State of Kansas until this upcoming year.

I have personal interests to one day seek political office and would assume that the building in which I teach sets my credentials for me, as opposed to my education/experience, according to your logic. Sorry to directy challenge you, but you are entirely wrong on your argument.

Having said that, I would support Janet Waugh ANY DAY, because she is not a part of the radical six. Unfortunately, I am registered in Sue Gamble's district and cannot assist Waugh today.

Best of luck to her and other reasonable candidates that will bring research and evidence-based educational policy to the constituents of Kansas, instead of a religiously-backed, fundamental ideology that only serves the faith-interests of those on the far-right.

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kmat 7 years, 8 months ago

What kills me about Jesse Hall is that he works for the KC MO school district, which lost its accreditation because of how bad it's students are failing. Anyone that votes for this moron to be on our board of ed must not care about students in KS. Why would anyone want to elect a board member that works for a failing school district? Oh yeah, because of the bible and creationism.

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dragonwagon2 7 years, 8 months ago

Please support Janet Waugh in the 1st district. She (the incumbent) is running against Jesse Hall (a moderate who supports the intelligent design movement). He has tried to quietly win a seat on the board without stating his real agenda. This is important in many ways - please be sure to vote today!

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erichaar 7 years, 8 months ago

Once again, no one in America is ever a liberal. Their either nutty conservatives or cool, collected, even-minded moderates.

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