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So Who Is the Kansas State Board of Education?

On Tuesday, the Kansas State Board of Education voted to change their state science standards by to promoting alternate "theories" to evolution, including the concept of Intelligent Design. While they were at it, they also decided to redefine the word "science" so as to include concepts other than natural explanations. There are ten members of the Board, and the vote was 6-4 in favor of the new guidelines.

The only article I found that broke down the 6-4 vote by member was Kansas State Board Votes to Teach Intelligent Design in Schools from the Bloomberg news service.

Here are the names of the six people who voted to include Intelligent Design:
Steve Abrams
John Bacon
Kathy Martin
Connie Morris
Iris Van Meter
Kenneth Willard

And here are the names of the four who voted against the proposal:
Sue Gamble
Carol Rupe
Bill Wagnon
Janet Waugh

Yesterday, I began wondering just who the six people were that seem to lack a basic understanding of what science is actually about. So I did a little websearching, and lo and behold, found the Kansas State Board of Education Contact Information webpage, which includes links to biographies of all six members. Here's a taste of what I found. (Note that all direct quotes are taken from their own bios; this is what the members are telling the world about themselves.)

Steve Abrams: "He is a former board member of Family Life Services and is a member of First Baptist Church in Arkansas City."

John Bacon: "John earned his Bachelor's degree in accounting from Mid- America Nazarene University in 1985 and is now self-employed as a certified public accountant."

Kathy Martin: "Kathy belongs to Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Clay Center, where she has served as Parish Council Chairperson, C.Y.O. Sponsor, and is a Eucharistic Minister and Lector. "

Connie Morris: "Her autobiography, From the Darkness:  One Woman’s Rise to Nobility, has been published by Huntington House Publishers.  The book is Connie’s story of recovery through Christ from incest, rape, domestic violence, substance abuse, and poverty during her early years in the Appalachian Mountains region."

Iris Van Meter: "Iris graduated from Kentucky Mountain Bible College in 1956 with a degree in Christian Education.  She worked in broadcasting for several years as a radio announcer and control operator.  Iris was a minister's wife for over 30 years and held many offices in the church and community....She has been a Republican precinct committeewoman in Neosho County for several years and has been an active supporter of the Republican Party."

Kenneth Willard: "He is active in his church, and school and community organizations."

Interestingly enough, of the four people who voted against adding Intelligent Design, only one of them, Carol Rupe, includes her church affiliation in her bio: "Carol resides in Wichita and is a member of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church."

What are we to make of this? I leave that for you to decide. However, I will point out, as many others have before, that one can be both religious and a believer in evolution. One can also be religious, refuse to believe in evolution, and yet still understanding enough to leave the public schools alone.

By the way, the contact page includes the Board members' home addresses and phone numbers. They must be very brave...although an email I sent to Janet Waugh yesterday has remained unanswered.

Comments

You might be interested in an ongoing discussion here:

http://www.livejournal.com/users/ariston/437688.html

I note that Ms. Martin, of the Gang of Six, admits membership in what some people take to be the most authoritative and others the most authoritarian of Churches -- one which has recently come down firmly on the side of evolution. Does this make her something of a freethinker?
A couple of shabboses ago, Rabbi Sendor spoke out very strongly against creationism and intelligent design calling Jews who believed in these "thoughtless." He also spoke very passionately about the spirit of our creation story and how the creation of light could refer to the first light from the big bang and not from the luminaries.

It made me feel good that religion doesn't necessarily close a person's eyes to the world around us.

All I can say is, "I don't think we're in Kansas anymore."
Count me in the possible to do both camp. The twenty-four hour day is a human construct, not a divine one, you know?

M
We've seen science fiction that presupposes evolution. Has there been any successful SF that extrapolates specifically on intelligent design? I imagine "...and their names were Adam and Eve" stories don't count. What kind of extrapolation is possible when the range of conclusions is so predetermined?

Yes, I know. The ramifications for SF slush pile trends are trivial when compared to the greater effect that the encouragement of ignorance has on society. But would somebody please think of the children editors?

Alex (ever faithful and dumbfounded)
The bios are rather revealing, aren't they?
Conservative Christians are more likely to be vocal about what church they go to, they need to constantly prove their affiliations to the community. It's a status symbol thing.

The sort of person who is for separation of church and state would be more likely to see their church affiliation as not being relevent.
from what i've seen, it goes far beyond a "status symbol" into a definition of self-identity. it's how they define themselves, which is why they have problems relating to anyone who isn't Just Like Them.

there was something on the news earlier tonight, and i'm afraid i didn't hear it too clearly because i was in the kitchen at the time...but they said all eight (?!?!) of the board members who voted this in, were immediately (well, OK: today) voted out of office. some televangelist was quoted as saying this meant kansas was voting god out of their schools...which was the same as voting against god.

good grief charlie brown!
It wasn't the Kansas Board that got voted out of the office, but the Board in Dover, PA, where the ID trial just ended.
ah! knew something was odd. makes much more sense now. ;)

guess that's what i get for trying to listen from the other room.

(Anonymous)

More on the KSBE

As most of you know, four of the six conservative board members are up for re-election next year. One blog out there has claimed that three of the four are, because they are from overwhelmingly rural areas, expected to be re-elected easily. That may not necessarily be the case.

I'll focus on the two districts i'm most familiar with.

Connie Morris has already drawn a challenger in the Republican primary and a Democrat for the General Election. She was one of three board members elected in 2002, and one of the two who knocked off a moderate incumbent. Immigration played a very big role in that election, given the large and growing hispanic population in southwest Kansas and economic problems in the northwest corner of the state (where Morris is from). She also came under fire earlier this year over a trip to Miami where she stayed in a very expensive, by western Kansas standards, resort hotel at state expense. If anything hurts her, this might be it.

Ken Willard won an open seat in 2002, but not just any open seat. The person he succeded just happened to be the board member who cast the deciding vote on the 1999 standards de-emphasizing evolution. Willard won the GOP primary over a candidate that had backing from key conservative leaders. He represents a district with very divergent views on this issue, with the predominant view being evolution and intelligent design should both be taught equally. He's also been the voice of calm and reason among the conservative bloc, and was the last holdout when the current commissioner of education was hired. If Ken Willard is to be beat, geography will play a bigger role than anything else. This KSBE district has been represented by someone from Reno County for years, particulary someone from the Hutchinson area. If a strong candidate surfaces from outside Hutchinson, they have a chance just on that.

Of the other two conservative candidates, the one that most people think might be the most vulnerable, John Bacon, might actually be in good shape, as his district includes the power base of the conservative faction of the Kansas Republican Party.

Re: More on the KSBE

Fascinating - I didn't know who on the Board was up for re-election next year. (By the way, could you identify yourself?)
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