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09 November 2005

Dover PA voters give the heave to all 8 Intelligent Design school board members

Dover Pennsylvania voters
take back their school board
from Creationist loonies

Wednesday 9 November 2005
Deutsche Presse-Agentur

San Francisco -- The same day Kansas state school officials voted to teach schoolchildren about alternative theories to evolution, voters in Pennsylvania booted out a district school board for making the same decision.

The Kansas School Board voted 6-4 on Tuesday that children should learn the alternative theories, in what critics claimed would make Kansas 'the laughing stock of the world' and open the door to the teaching of the quasi-religious theory of intelligent design.

The decision was made despite strong opposition from The National Academy of Sciences and the National Science Teachers Association, the Kansas City Star reported Wednesday.

In another case that has gained national attention, parents at Dover High School near York, Pennsylvania, have challenged the constitutionality of a school board dictate to teach intelligent design in the science classroom.

But also on Tuesday, local voters resoundingly turned out all eight school board members who mandated the change. A court ruling is expected in the case in the near future.

One of the Dover school board winners, Bernadette Reinking, told the New York Times: 'I think voters were tired of the trial, they were tired of intelligent design, they were tired of everything that this school board brought about.'

While the Kansas decision does not force schools to teach the theory, it will be included in statewide testing material that virtually guarantees that it will be on most school's curriculums.

'This is a great day for Kansas,' said board President Steve E. Abrams, who led the campaign. 'This absolutely raises science standards.'

But board member Janet Waugh argued that it would teach religion in the guise of science.

'We're becoming a laughing-stock, not only of the nation but of the world,' she was quoted as saying.

Backers of intelligent design maintain that life's development is too complex to be explained by the theory of natural evolution and argue that the process must be guided by a 'higher power'. President George W. Bush gave the religious-based movement a boost earlier this year when he said that schoolchildren should be taught about theories of evolution and intelligent design alongside of each other.
Though four other states have backed some measures that promote the teaching of intelligent design, the Kansas measure is by far the most wide-reaching and would provide major impetus to the controversial theory.

'Intelligent design supporters and creationists will hold this up as a standard -- go forth and do likewise,' said Eugenie C. Scott, director of the National Center for Science Education.

Intelligent design 'does not provide any natural explanation that can be tested,' said Francisco Ayala, an expert in evolutionary genetics and past president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

He said the Kansas standards 'are an insult to science, an insult to education and an insult to the American Constitution' which bans the teaching of religion in state schools.

Kansas previously voted to teach children the intelligent design theory in 2000, but the decision was overturned soon afterwards when the conservative school board was voted out. Republicans retook control in 2004, but three of the six board members who backed Tuesday's measure face re-election next year.

© dpa / Deutsche Presse-Agentur


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