Voters Reject Intelligent Design, Again
by Kevin Franck, Wed Aug 02, 2006 at 10:56:20 AM EDT
You may remember that in 2004 the Dover, PA school board was forced to stop teaching so-called Intelligent Design (ID) theory after a Republican-appointed federal judge called their bluff and ruled that teaching ID amounted to promoting religion.
But even before that case was decided, the thoughtful citizens of Dover voted to replace every member of the board who had supported weakening science standards by injecting ID. Those pesky voters.
Undeterred by their loss in Dover, the anti-science Right focused its attention back on more familiar territory - Kansas. The Right Wing there helped prop up an ultraconservative majority in 2002, but yesterday primary voters in Kansas decided they had had enough and rejected a majority of the pro-ID candidates. After the general election in November there could be as few as two anti-science members left on the board of ten.
Ultraconservative Republicans have intermittently controlled the Kansas school board since 1998, resulting in anti-evolution science education standards in 1999, evolution-friendly ones in 2001, and anti-evolution ones again last year. In addition, the current right-wing majority has also severely restricted access to sex education and hired an outspoken opponent of public schools as the state's superintendent.
This year, five seats on the board are up for election - four are members of the majority and one is a moderate Democrat. Just last month, the Discovery Institute announced a massive media campaign to defend those four seats. They launched a website, aired radio advertisements and circulated a petition, all the while maintaining that their aim was not to influence the election. If that's true, then their plan worked - they didn't seem to have much of an impact at all.
In yesterday's Republican primary, one member of the majority and the hand-picked successor of another were defeated by moderates who ran largely on the issues of evolution, sex education, and the choice of superintendent. In the Democratic primary, board member Janet Waugh handily defeated her conservative challenger. The two anti-science Republicans who won their primary bids will face Democratic opposition and Waugh is unopposed. At most, the anti-science faction could hold four of ten seats after the general election.
The most-watched race was in District 5, where Republican incumbent Connie Morris was defeated by moderate Sally Cauble. Morris had become the public face of the anti-science majority leading up to the primary election. She had described evolution as "an age-old fairy tale" and "a nice bed-time story." Cauble, of Liberal, KS, defeated her by eight percentage points. An ultraconservative Republican running on a faith-based platform was beaten by a moderate from a town called Liberal - that's how unpopular the school boards actions have been!
All students deserve a quality science education. Americans get it, but the Right Wing doesn't. The Right Wing will keep pushing its agenda, even in the face of popular opposition, but it won't work. The pro-science majority is fighting back. Our new rallying cry: Remember Dover!
Kevin Franck is Senior Education Policy Analyst at People For the American Way