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Stickers come off in Beebe


At its meeting on July 11, 2005, the Beebe, Arkansas, School Board voted 3-2 to remove stickers describing evolution as "controversial" and mentioning an "intelligent designer" as a possible explanation of the origin of life from the district's science textbooks. The stickers, which were apparently placed in the textbooks in the early or middle 1990s, seem to have been unnoticed until 2005, when the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas urged the school district to remove the stickers, citing the recent decision in Selman v. Cobb County, in which similar stickers used in Georgia were ruled to be unconstitutional. The ACLU was initially told that the school district agreed to remove the stickers, but then the school board decided to delay any decision until the resolution of the appeal in Selman.

The board's decision to remove the stickers was reportedly prompted more by concerns over the expense and bother of defending against a lawsuit than by the scientific and pedagogical problems of the sticker. For her part, Rita Sklar, the executive director of the ACLU of Arkansas, was just glad to see the board do the right thing for whatever reason: "Of course, I wish it was out of respect for religious liberty and the separation of church and state," she told The Leader. "I'm also glad they are avoiding costly litigation that would only harm the students and the school district." In a press release, Sklar was also quoted as expressing concern "that these stickers may be present in textbooks around the state, as they are the latest attempt to undermine science and bring creationism back into public schools."