The insane shouldn't be allowed to hold political office

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Creationist Cults

23 Jul 02
ROSS SAUER
Kansas fundys

Remember the fundy assholes in Kansas a couple years ago? They're baaaack......


Anti-evolution conservatives plan comeback in Kansas

By DIANE CARROLL
Kansas City Star

Two years ago, the world watched as moderates and conservatives battled for control of the Kansas Board of Education.

The moderates won and quickly reversed a 1999 decision to downplay the teaching of evolution. Then the board faded from the national news.

Commentators, who contended the evolution fight had made Kansas a laughingstock, turned their concerns elsewhere.

Now conservatives are quietly working for a comeback in the Aug. 6 primary. Their goal: changes in education, from funding of public schools to how science is taught.

"They may be very quiet about it, but I believe it is clearly the situation that the far-right groups are trying to take back control of the state board," said Craig Grant, a lobbyist with the Kansas National Education Association.

Five of 10 seats are up for grabs, two of them in the Kansas City area.

Four races feature conservatives against moderates. The fifth pits moderate incumbent Janet Waugh of Kansas City, Kan., against political newcomer Hershel Martin of Kansas City, Kan. Martin calls himself a moderate, but moderates say he is a conservative on evolution.

If Martin and all conservatives win, the board could have enough votes to bring evolution back as a topic for review.

If the votes are there, incumbent conservative John Bacon of Olathe says he would put evolution on the table again, if he is re-elected.

Conservatives are confident they can regain some ground in the elections, but those who think they can take control are more optimistic than conservatives themselves, said Jared Suhn, political director for the Kansas Republican Assembly, a group that recruits and endorses conservatives.

"We knew going into this election cycle that to get control of the board again would definitely be an uphill battle," he said. "Our goal was primarily to ... add one or two to it and then go for more in two years."

That said, the moderates' victories of 2000 often came in close races, he noted.

"There certainly wasn't a mandate by the voters of Kansas to return it to the moderate and liberal factions of the party," Suhn said.

Caroline McKnight, executive director of the moderate Mainstream Coalition, said she thinks it is unlikely conservatives will regain control. The four moderates running for re-election are solid candidates, she said.

In addition, she said, the coalition thinks it has a strong candidate in Forrest Weddle, who will oppose Bacon. That is the race in which the coalition is most interested, she said.

The coalition remains concerned about whether conservatives will try to bring evolution back, she said. Bacon's interest in doing so gives them added incentive to defeat him, she said.

The science standards are not scheduled to be addressed again for several years. But the board is free to revisit them if it wishes.

In 1999, the board approved science standards that allowed local school boards to decide whether evolution should be taught. The board's action was perceived as downplaying evolution because the board also said that state assessment tests would not include questions on evolution.

Bacon said he continues to think that if evolution is taught in science classes, students should be exposed to other theories of origin as well. He would include creationism, he said, as well as intelligent design, the idea that everything in the universe was designed, not the result of natural processes.

All of the theories should be discussed in the context of the scientific evidence that supports them, he said.

Evolution aside, the question of how much money should be spent on education is a top campaign issue, candidates and state-board observers said.

The state Legislature determines the dollars spent, but the board recommends how much is needed. In that respect, the board can play an influential role.

Moderates who are up for re-election tended to support a recent study that contends Kansas must spend $229 million more on public schools to provide a "suitable education." The study, authorized by the Legislature, was done by a Denver-based consulting firm, Augenblick & Myers Inc.

Conservative challengers generally said they opposed the idea of raising state taxes to provide more money for schools.

All the races but one will be decided in the primary.

The 7th District, in south-central Kansas, has Democratic and Republican contestants and will be settled in the Nov. 5 general election.

A look at the candidates:

o 1st District: Waugh, who spent more than 15 years on the Turner School Board, is being challenged by Martin, a retired teacher and former president of the National Education Association affiliated with the Kansas City, Kan., School District. Both are Democrats.

Martin said he doubts that he and Waugh have major differences.

But Waugh said Martin asked her in 1999 not to vote the way she did on the evolution issue.

Martin said he might have asked her that. But if he did, he said, it was because he does not think the teaching of evolution or any theory of origin should be emphasized in science classes. If one theory is allowed to be discussed, Martin said, then others should be allowed as well.

Waugh voted against the downplaying of evolution.

o 3rd District: Bacon, the conservative Republican, will face Weddle, a moderate Republican. Both are from Olathe.

Weddle, who recently retired as director of information technology for the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City, said he wants to use his background in information technology to help children learn. He differs from Bacon on evolution.

Bacon, an accountant, is in his forth term on the Olathe City Council. He said the Augenblick & Meyers study has merit and that he could support an increase in funding for education.

However, he said, he worries about increasing state taxes because he wants Kansas to remain competitive with neighboring states.

o 5th District: In northwest Kansas, the moderate Republican incumbent, Sonny Rundell of Syracuse, is being challenged by Connie Morris, a conservative Republican from St. Francis.

Morris said she would oppose raising state taxes to fund education but would not oppose raising the limits on local-option budgets.

"There are a lot of problems in education, but I don't feel more money is going to solve the problem," Morris said. "That is the big loud message coming out, and I am extremely tired of hearing that message."

To squeeze more money into education, she said, she would reduce administrators and require Spanish-speaking children to know English before they enter school. Also, she said, all children should be U.S. citizens before being allowed to enroll.

She said she would support the teaching of intelligent design, but not the teaching of creationism.

Rundell, who voted against the downplaying of evolution, said he did not want to revisit the issue. He said he would support an increase in taxes to fund education.

Rundell said he doesn't think the state has too many school administrators. As far as banning children who are not U.S. citizens from schools, he said, Morris "needs to think about that a little." Federal law requires schools to educate every child, he said, and he would not turn away a child just because the child could not speak English.

o 7th District: Vying for the seat of Harold Voth, who is stepping down, are Sam Kepfield and Kenneth Willard, both Hutchinson Republicans, and L. Duane Anstine, a Democrat from Hutchinson.

The conservative Kansas Republican Assembly has endorsed Willard but also would be happy with Kepfield, Suhn said.

Willard said Voth encouraged him to run. On the issue of evolution, he said he would vote as Voth did, to downplay it.

Kepfield said he would support the idea of letting local school boards decide whether they wanted to teach evolution. He said he thinks they have that authority already.

Anstine has experience as a teacher, school superintendent and local school board member. He said he would not be in favor of bringing the evolution issue back.

o 9th District: Incumbent moderate Republican Val DeFever of Independence is being challenged by Iris Van Meter of Thayer, a conservative Republican.

Van Meter said she was running to give Republican conservatives a choice. She is the wife of a retired minister and fruit farmer.

Van Meter referred questions to her daughter, Lauren Van Meter of Topeka, her campaign manager. Her daughter said she did not want to get into a discussion of the issues.

DeFever said she thinks Kansas will have to find the resources somewhere to better fund education. She said she would not support another vote on evolution.

2001 ledgerenquirer and wire service sources.

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