By Diane Silver
Here's the good news: In the Aug. 1 primary, Kansans overturned the anti-evolution majority on the state Board of Education. Here's the better news: In November, we have the opportunity to strengthen the voices of moderation by booting two more members of the religious right off the board.
The primary guaranteed a moderate majority on the board (see here for details), but over the last eight years the Kansas Board of Education has been a yo-yo. One year, the anti-evolution forces win; two years later, those of us who believe in science win. In 2008 the seats of three moderates will be up for election, giving the religious right another chance to seize control of education policy in Kansas.
It's time to stop the yo-yo's bounce.
The first step is to change the current 6-4 pro-science majority on the board to a 7-3 or even 8-2 majority. To do that, we need to defeat incumbent Republicans John Bacon of Olathe and Ken Willard of Hutchinson. To do that, we need you to get involved.
If you live in Kansas and in Districts 3 or 7, donate money and work for pro-science candidates Don Weiss in District 3 and Jack Wempe in District 7. Don't forget to vote on Nov. 7.
If you live outside of those districts or outside of the state, you can still help by donating to the Weiss and Wempe campaigns.
Don't forget these dates:
Advanced Voting begins by mail and in- person at County Election Offices.
Last day to register to vote in general election
Advanced voting closes for the general election
For other details on voting see http://www.voteks.org/.
Once of the best sources for information on the campaign is Red State Rabble. Here is his rundown on the candidates.
Incumbent John Bacon is part of the right-wing majority that voted for intelligent design inspired criticisms of evolution. He voted to appoint anti-tax lobbyist Bob Corkins as Education Commissioner. John Vratil, a Leawood Republican and vice chairman of the Senate Education Committee, said Corkins' appointment seemed "sort of like making Saddam Hussein president of the United States."
Moderate Democrat Don Weiss, a supporter of teaching real science in Kansas public schools... "How can we expect our children to receive a world-class education when the education standards proposed by the Board's Radical Right Majority are determined by personal ideology rather than common-sense?" asks Weiss. "The new standards have been so thoroughly rejected by education experts that the National Academy of Sciences and the National Science Teachers Association have withdrawn their support for those new education standards." Weiss' website.
Right-wing incumbent Ken Willard voted with the rest of the theocratic board majority for the intelligent design inspired re-definition of science, the appointment of Bob Corkins, and the sex education opt-in policy.
Moderate Democrat Jack Wempe, former chairman of the Kansas Board of Regents, legislator, and school superintendent ... says he's "disappointed" by the state board's push to de- emphasize the teaching of evolution.
I believe in a creator. I reaffirm that belief each week in Church when I recite the creed. But that belief is based on faith. I hope that faith is strong enough that it neither fears science nor requires validation by the local high school biology class.