Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Kansas School Board Shifts Toward Reason

Somebody pasted this into the comments overnight, and it bears a more prominent posting here.

Kansas' school board was overrun with nuts who changed the definition of science to include supernatural phenomena, and who have tried to push through a bunch of changes that have embarrassed the state. They want charter schools, vouchers, and The Origin of Species as it is taught in the Bible. So the question has been, have the people of Kansas had enough?

They answered that question yesterday.
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Conservative Republicans who brought international attention to Kansas by approving academic standards calling evolution into question lost control of the state school board in primaries.

As a result of the vote, board members and candidates who believe evolution is well-supported by evidence will have a 6-4 majority. Evolution skeptics had entered the election with a 6-4 majority.

Five seats were on the ballot this year. Three incumbent conservatives faced primary foes, and there was a contested GOP race for the seat held by a retiring conservative. A pro-evolution Democratic incumbent also had a challenger.

With almost all the votes counted early Wednesday, pro-evolution Republican Jana Shaver picked off a conservative incumbent and won the primary for the open seat.

Conservative Republican John Bacon kept his seat by besting two pro-evolution challengers, as did another conservative incumbent, Ken Willard. Janet Waugh, a Kansas City Democrat who opposed the new standards, easily defeated a more conservative Democrat who favored the anti-evolution language.

The most closely watched race was in western Kansas, where incumbent conservative Connie Morris lost her GOP primary to Sally Cauble. Both are former educators, but Morris had described evolution as "an age-old fairy tale" and "a nice bedtime story" unsupported by science. Evolution opponents lose control of Kansas school board

It's only one little battle, and don't go thinking the losers are just going to pack up and go away. The fight's not over yet, not nearly.

32 Comments:

Anonymous David S. Fishback said...

This article from today's NY Times clarifies why the primary election was definitive in terms of how the new Kansas State Board will deal with the evolution issue.

August 2, 2006
Evolution Opponents Lose Kansas Board Majority
By RALPH BLUMENTHAL
Kansas voters on Tuesday handed power back to moderates on the State Board of Education, setting the stage for a return of science teaching that broadly accepts the theory of evolution, according to preliminary election results.
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.
If her fellow moderates prevailed, Ms. Waugh said last week, “we need to revisit the minutes and every decision that was 6-4, re-vote.”
Ms. Morris lost to Sally Cauble, a teacher from Liberal, who has favored a return to traditional science standards.
Taking another seat from the conservatives in the Republican primary was Jana Shaver of Independence, a former teacher and administrator, who ran far ahead of Brad Patzer. Mr. Patzer is the son-in-law of the current board member Iris Van Meter, who did not seek reelection.
In another closely fought Republican race, in the Kansas City-Olathe district, Harry E. McDonald, a retired biology teacher, lost to the conservative incumbent John W. Bacon, an accountant.
The results seem likely to give the moderates a 6-4 edge on the 10-member board when it takes over in January. Half the members of the board are elected every two years. The election results are not final until certified by the Kansas Secretary of State, Ron Thornburgh, following an official canvas.
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. Ms. Waugh, the Democrat, does not face a Republican opponent in the general election.
The changes in the science standards, favored by advocates of intelligent design who believe life is too complex to be have been created by natural events, put Kansas at the vanguard of efforts by religious advocates critical explanations of the origin of life that do not include a creator. But intelligent design was not referenced in the Kansas standards.
The curriculum changes, coming after years of see-sawing power struggles between moderates and conservatives, drew widespread ridicule and, critics complained, threatened Kansas’s high standing in national education circles. But Steve E. Abrams, the chairman of the board and a veterinarian from Arkansas City, said the changes only subjected evolution to critical scientific scrutiny.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/02/us/02cnd-kansas.html?hp&ex=1154577600&en=938d196883854b8d&ei=5094&partner=homepage

August 02, 2006 2:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, since two of the five seats were won by pro-truth candidates, it would seem that Kansas voters haven't made a clear-cut decision and the "see-sawing" will continue.

Darwinism, the religious viewpoint favored by liberal education groups has now successfully moved into place to forbid any discussion of criticism of their beliefs. A sad day for academic freedom. You'll find no other theory in all of science where teachers are forbidden to discuss criticism of the prevailing view.

The scary thing is where the Darwinist point of view has lead in the past.

H.A.





H.A.

August 02, 2006 2:27 PM  
Anonymous David S. Fishback said...

There is a school of thought that says that William Jennings Bryan (of Scopes Trial notoriety) became so aggressively fundamentalist in his later years in large part because, as an economic populist appalled at the excesses of industrial capitalism, he believed that Social Darwinism as a matter of public policy was an inevitable outgrowth of Darwin's Theory of Evolution as set forth in The Origin of Species.

If that is an accurate assessment of Bryan's journey, it is understandable. But it is no way to deal with the world. In order to make the best world we can, we must understand facts as they are, not as we would wish them to be. Once we know the lay of the land, we can then figure out how best to develop a community, a nation, a world in which we can tame our darker impulses and live together in harmony. But if we ignore the world as it is, we are more likely to be run over by it.

August 02, 2006 5:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In that case, what would be wrong with, in teaching about evolution, there would be a section of the curriculum that dealt with the problems some have with evolutionary theory. You can even say most scientists believe evolution is accurate anyway. But why do we think this theory deserves some special protection from criticism?

August 02, 2006 5:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

they fear and open debate.

August 02, 2006 5:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

they fear the debate.

August 02, 2006 6:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Boy Found Slain On Golf Course; Pedophile Charged
Suspect Convicted Twice Before

POSTED: 7:20 am EDT August 1, 2006

BALTIMORE -- The body of an 11-year-old boy missing since last week has been found on a golf course near his Baltimore home. And a twice-convicted sex offender has been arrested in his death.

An autopsy is being performed on the body of Irvin Harris to establish the cause of death.

Melvin Jones Jr., described by police as a family friend, has been charged with first-degree murder and other crimes. The 52-year-old was arrested after police got an anonymous tip.

Jones is a registered sex offender with a lengthy criminal record dating to 1970. His most recent conviction, for a third-degree sex offense, came in 2002.

The chief of detectives said there is "every indication" that Irvin's mother knew about Jones' 2002 conviction for having sex with a teenage boy.

Irvin's mother, Shanda Harris, told WBAL-TV, that she blames herself for trusting Jones.

Jones is charged with first-degree murder and other related charges in the death of Irvin Harris. Bail has not yet been set.

August 02, 2006 10:32 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

Anon, did you post this irrelevant story on purpose, or did your finger slip?

JimK

August 02, 2006 10:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

define irrelevant story

August 02, 2006 11:11 PM  
Blogger Dana Beyer, M.D. said...

It's quite obvious that none of the Anons have taken a biology class recently, or read any of thousands of books on evolution. What in the world would lead you to think that there is no discussion of problems with evolutionary theory? How can there ever be progress without such discussion, and the fact is that there always are problems with any scientific theory. Our knowledge is always incomplete.

The problem lies with you and your friends, who think that the answer to any scientific question is God.

August 02, 2006 11:35 PM  
Blogger Theresa said...

"" In 1979, Dr Raup, a geologist at the Field Musuem of Natural History in Chicago, described the problem this way :...

"We are now about 120 years after Darwin and the knowledge of the fossil record has been greatly expanded. We now have a quarter of a million fossil species but hte situation hasn't changed much. The record of evolution is surprisingly jerky, and, ironically, we have even fewer examples of evolutionary transitions than we had in Darwin's time. By this I mean that some of the classic cases of dawinian change in the fossil recod, such as the evolution of the horse in North America, have had to be discarded or modified as a result of more detailed information, what appeared to be a nice simple progession when relatively few data were available now appears to be much more complex and much less gradualistic" "

Ann Coulter, Godless

August 03, 2006 1:25 AM  
Blogger Theresa said...

"Darwin was at least aware of what the fossil record ought to show if his theory was correct. He said there would "interminable varieties, connecting together all the extinct and existing forms of life by the finest graduated steps". But we don't have "interminable varieties". We don't have fossils "connecting" the extinct to the extant. We don't have the "finest graduated steps". What the fossil record shows is sudden burst of all manner of animals, modest change, and then sudden and total extinction. Dinosaurs appeared, than lived for 150 million years, and then disappeared, only to be quickly replaced with mammals. Neither the creation nor the extinction of dinosaurs was accomplished by a gradual process of any sort. You also never see the mutations that turned out to blcunkers, like the dog that mutated webbed feet of the fisth that mutated furt. To the contrart, all the changes always see to follow a straight line. But if the mutations were really random, with Mother Nature ruthlessly striking down the genetic losers, then for every mustation that was desirable, there outhg to be a staggering number that are undesirable. Otherwise, the mutations are random, they are deliberate - and the you get into all the hocus-pocus about an "intelligent designer" and will probably start speaking in tongues and going to NASCAR races. But that is not what the fossil record shows. We don't have fossils for the vast quantity of hapless creatures that ought to have died out in a survival of the fittest regime"

Ann Coulter - Godless

August 03, 2006 1:34 AM  
Blogger Theresa said...

"The point isn't that school children should be "taught the controversy" - school children should be taught the truth. This includes :

- the truth about the entire fossil record, which shows a very non-Darwinian progression, noticeably lacking the vast number of transitional species we ought to see.
- the truth about the Cambrian explosion, in which all the animal phyla suddenly appeared, with no Darwinian ancestors
- the truth about the Galapagos finch population changing not one bit since Darwin first observed the finches more than 170 years ago.
- the truth about the peppered moth experiment.
- the truth about Haeckel's embryos being a fraud perpetuated by a leading German eugenicist.
- the truth about the Miller-Urey experiment being based on premises that are no longer accepted
- the truth about the non existences of computer simulations of the evolution of the eye"

Ann Coulter, Godless

August 03, 2006 1:43 AM  
Blogger Theresa said...

That was Chapter 9 - by the way "Proof for how the Walkman evolved into the iPOD by Random Mutation"

August 03, 2006 1:45 AM  
Blogger Theresa said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

August 03, 2006 1:51 AM  
Blogger Theresa said...

"In the end, evolutionists' only argument is contempt. The cultist know that if people were allowed to hear the arguments against evolution, all would be lost. So they demonize the people making those arguments. You're just saying that because you believe in God ! You probably believe in a flat Earth, too ! You sound like a Holocaust revisionist ! That's all you ever get".

Ann Coulter, Godless.

Thanks for demonstrating this point so well, Dana and JK.

So, Dana, Jim - if you are willing to have a debate about this, on the FACTS - as opposed to slinging insults - pull out your biology books.

Let's here you counter Ann's list of objections. Let's start with number one :
Why, if Darwin's theory is true, haven't we found any transitional fossils ? Why does it appear that all the species appeared at once ?

August 03, 2006 2:26 AM  
Blogger JimK said...

Theresa, there's no such thing as an "evolutionist." I'm not going to debate Ann Coulter's facts on the topic of evolution. And it's not because she's so much more knowledgeable than any biologist.

JimK

August 03, 2006 7:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, Dana, Jim think you can handle a intelitual debate?

August 03, 2006 7:06 AM  
Blogger JimK said...

Whoa, Anon, no, I don't think I'd be up to that challenge.

JimK

August 03, 2006 8:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"What in the world would lead you to think that there is no discussion of problems with evolutionary theory?"

Dr D

This is the only thing mandated by the Kansas school board and it's what has you and your fellow Darwinists feeling so threatened. If it's already in the books, there is no problem.

I will say that when my son took Biology in public school a couple of years ago, I read the chapters on evolution and there were a couple of paragraphs discussing the problems with evolutionary theory, including apparent design. I guess Montgomery County's curriculum would fly in Kansas.

The point is, and peace would break out over the issue, if the Darwinists would stop trying to grab monopoly power over thought. Simply teach kids the truth about what the evidence shows now, not what you hope it will eventually say. As far as that goes, let indidual teachers tell the kids what their personal evaluation of the evidence is.

H.A.

August 03, 2006 8:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Whoa, Anon, no, I don't think I'd be up to that challenge."

We'll have to give Jim credit. He is generally very good at spelling.

H.A.

August 03, 2006 8:45 AM  
Anonymous PasserBy said...

Great idea. Education should be teachers telling students their personal opinions on things ...

PB

August 03, 2006 8:45 AM  
Blogger Theresa said...

Ah, PB.

Then you agree that the teacher caught on tape Bush bashing in a geography class should have been fired ?

I wouldn't have suspected that.

August 03, 2006 2:02 PM  
Anonymous PasserBy said...

I don't think firing should be the first response to a personnel problem, but teachers should not use the classroom to promote their personal opinions, whichever way they lean. I don't know what case you're referring to, but yes, I agree a teacher should be disciplined if they used the classroom for Bush-bashing or any other sort of political activity.

PB

August 03, 2006 2:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

PB

The anti-septic world devoid of persoective doesn't exist. Let the kids know people have opinions. It'll be part of their education.

H.A.

August 03, 2006 2:26 PM  
Anonymous PasserBy said...

OK, H.A., what do you do with the Bush-basher?

PB

August 03, 2006 2:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes jimk is a good speller but he does not know what the words mean.

August 03, 2006 3:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"OK, H.A., what do you do with the Bush-basher?"

Personally, I'm fine with it. I just wish the education profession weren't so monolithic politically. If some effort were made to hire a more intellectually diverse faculty, it would make for a better education.

H.A.

August 03, 2006 4:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

JimK said...
Theresa, there's no such thing as an "evolutionist."

run jim run

August 04, 2006 7:31 PM  
Blogger Dana Beyer, M.D. said...

Apparently, Theresa, you don't read much scientific literature.

Why don't you take a look at this pretty extensive website: http://www.talkorigins.org/

August 05, 2006 12:48 AM  
Blogger Theresa said...

I saw that site Dana.
I found it when trying to figure out what the probability was that we wouldn't have found any species that are transitional.

This site clamied there were 20 or some fossils that were transitional, which led me to a site about how were definitely hoaxes and another site discussing a debate between one scientist that claimed they were fake and another that claimed they were real....

and about this time I concluded that I wasn't going to be able to get to the truth of the matter, since I didn't have enough expertise to determine the truth.

And you are correct, Coulter simply states that "there aren't any transitional" not that "gee, there's a big debate going on about what consititutes a transitional species anyway" - just like there is a big debate going on about what constitutes a WMD.

Definitely not black and white, that's for sure.

August 08, 2006 5:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

good point Theresa.

August 09, 2006 7:37 PM  

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