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Discouraging news from Kansas

With the results of the August 3, 2004, primary election, the balance of power on the Kansas Board of Education is likely to tilt in favor of anti-evolutionists, for the first time since 1999, when the board voted to de-emphasize evolution in the state's science standards. The board is presently split 5-5 between supporters and opponents of evolution education.

In District 6, Kathy Martin defeated incumbent Bruce Wyatt to become the Republican candidate. On July 11, during a candidates' forum, Martin said that evolution should be taught as a theory and alongside alternative theories such as "intelligent design," which she described as "accepted by professors around the US." Noting that evolution was the consensus view among scientists, Wyatt warned that changes to the standards such as those proposed by Martin would compromise the academic standards of Kansas’s schools: the state’s schools should "keep the science in science."

In District 10, incumbent Steve Abrams, who submitted a creationist-written version of the standards to his colleagues in 1999, defeated Tim Aiken, who reportedly supported keeping the present standards as they are, to become the Republican candidate. In Districts 2 and 8, moderate Republican incumbents Sue Gamble and Carol Rupe, supporters of evolution education, ran unopposed, apparently because their would-be conservative Republican rivals missed a filing deadline by seconds.

Martin, Abrams, Gamble, and Rupe are running unopposed in the general election. The only contested seat will be in District 4, where incumbent Democrat Bill Wagnon, a supporter of evolution education, is running against Republican Robert Meissner, whose views on evolution education have not been reported.

It is thus likely that anti-evolutionists will have at least a 6-4 majority on the board, which will be reviewing a revision of the state science standards -- presently under development -- in 2005.

(Story in The Witchita Eagle) [Link is broken]