Kansas Creationist Running Unopposed For Education Position

Kenneth R. Willard, a Kansas Republican who voted to include teaching intelligent design in science classes, is running unopposed to be President of The National Association of State Boards of Education. His previous opponent for the July election dropped out for personal reasons and nominations are now closed.

Scientists opposed to having a creationist in such a position are urging members to write in Sam Schloemer, who they also helped get on the Ohio board last November when organizing to defeat creationist candidates.

People like Steve Rissing, a professor of biology at Ohio State University who was involved in the state election effort last fall, say they fear that if Mr. Willard is elected, challenges to the teaching of evolution would move to the national board. “Those of us in the trenches say, ‘Oh no, not again,’ ” Professor Rissing said.

Patricia Princehouse, a professor of evolutionary biology at Case Western Reserve University and a leader of the scientists’ efforts, said she hoped there would be many write-in votes. “Whether they decide it counts or not is up to Nasbe,” Professor Princehouse said, using the acronym for the national association. “But people do not have to endorse Willard’s candidacy.”

Supporters of teaching creationism in science classes, such as The Discovery Institute, support his candidacy.

But Kenneth R. Miller, a biology professor at Brown University who testified last year in a lawsuit over an effort to challenge the teaching of evolution in Dover, Pa., said he was “concerned” when he learned a supporter of intelligent design was slated to head the national school board group.

“We are in a nationwide struggle for the integrity of science education,” Professor Miller said, “and any situation that provides an opportunity for the opponents of science education to advance their agenda is a matter of concern.”

Think Progress quotes Willard on teaching intelligent design:

“Any introduction of any criticism of evolution or the consideration of it is a challenge to the blind faith in evolution that some people want to hold.” [PBS, 11/11/05]

“I’m very pleased to be maybe on the front edge of trying to bring some intellectual honesty and integrity to the science classroom rather than asking students to check their questions at the door because it is a challenge to the sanctity of evolution.” [New York Times, 11/9/05]

“”What we’re dealing with here…is a high degree of fear of change.” [Washington Post, 11/9/05]

As The New York Times report states, “There is no credible scientific challenge to the theory of evolution as an explanation for the complexity and diversity of life on earth. Courts have repeatedly ruled that creationism and intelligent design are religious doctrines, not scientific theories.”

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