Kansas On The Mend: Part II genre: Hip-Gnosis & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation
The conservative anti-evolution hold on the State Board of Education in Kansas appears to have been defeated, leaving the Board with at least a 6-4 pro-evolution membership heading into the November general election. The primary election received national attention as Kansas has been a battleground over the issues of evolution and intelligent design (creationism). The New York Times has the full article here.
With just 6 districts of 1,990 yet to report as of 8 a.m. Central time today, two conservatives — including incumbent Connie Morris, a former west Kansas teacher and author who had described evolution as “a nice bedtime story" — appear to have been defeated decisively by two moderates in the Republican primary elections. One moderate incumbent, Janet Waugh from the Kansas City area, held on to her seat in the Democratic primary.
Both moderate Republican winners face Democratic opponents in November, but the Democrats are moderates as well, favoring a return to the traditional science standards that prevailed before a conservative majority elected in 2004 passed new rules for teaching science. Those rules, enacted last November, called for classroom critiques of Darwin’s theory.
The most closely watched race was between current board member Connie Morris, an anti-evolution conservative who has called evolution "an age old fairy tale" and "a nice bedtime story" that is unsupported by science and her moderate pro-evolution opponent Sally Cauble. While the results have yet to be certified, Cauble held a significant lead of 54-46 percent or just over 2,000 votes.
Critics of Kansas' science standards worried that if conservatives retained the board's majority, it would lead to attempts in other states to copy the Kansas standards.
"There are people around the country who would like to see the Kansas standards in their own states," said Eugenie Scott, director of the National Center for Science Education in Oakland, Calif., which supports the teaching of evolution.
Last year, in Dover, Pa., voters ousted school board members who had required the biology curriculum to include mention of intelligent design. A federal judge struck down the policy, declaring intelligent design is religion in disguise.
The Pennsylvania and Kansas results offer encouragement that further efforts to push intelligent design will also be defeated. Thought Theater has previously discussed the evolution controversy here as well as the remarks made by conservative Connie Morris here. Hopefully this outcome will be the turning point for allowing science to move forward without repeated efforts to impose or interject religious beliefs.