Wichita Eagle editorial
Wichita Eagle editorial
Evolve - Posted on Sun, Jul. 09, 2006
It's hard to know whether to laugh or cry about the doings of the Kansas State Board of Education. A faction of far-right conservatives has turned the state board into its own ideological hobbyhorse, drawing widespread condemnation from the academic community, not to mention international ridicule.

Enough. It's time for voters to clean house in upcoming board races.

This year, five of the 10 board members are up for re-election -- with a chance that four current conservative members could be replaced, once again tipping the balance of the board, as in 2000, back to a working, pragmatic majority.

The board's ideological and ill-informed approach to evolution and science standards has been nothing short of a fiasco.

Many Kansans believe in creationism, but many also understand that science standards are about science, not religion. The overwhelming consensus of mainstream scientists around the world is that evolution is a bedrock theory underlying biology and other scientific disciplines. As a result, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute last year gave Kansas' science standards a big fat "F," saying the revised standards "make a mockery of the very definition of science."

Board conservatives Connie Morris, Ken Willard and John Bacon are up for re-election. Another conservative, Iris Van Meter, isn't running for re-election, but her son-in-law, Brad Patzer, is taking up her religious agenda.

The election promises to be a referendum on the conservatives' other dubious moves, including the appointment of a woefully inexperienced and divisive new state education commissioner, Bob Corkins, as well as ham-handed board efforts to micromanage local districts on sex education and other issues.

It's encouraging that a strong field of well-qualified challengers is running, both in the Aug. 1 primary and the Nov. 7 general election.

These will be tough races, because the Intelligent Design Network and religious right groups are pouring money and misinformation into these campaigns.

That's also why Kansas voters need to show up and return some professionalism and pragmatism to state education policy.


For the editorial board, Randy Scholfield