The Kansas Board of Education dealt Darwinists a surprise blow last year with a 6-4 vote to delete macro-evolution from state testing standards-effectively leaving it up to local districts to decide whether to teach Darwinism (WORLD, Sept. 11, 1999). Payback came last week.
In Republican primaries on August 1, Darwinists won three of four contested board seats, wresting control from incumbents who supported last year's vote. In the most highly publicized race, Sue Gamble defeated board chairman Linda Holloway 60 percent to 40 percent in suburban Johnson County. "Propaganda still works," said Ms. Holloway, who raised about $90,000-a state record for a school-board race-in her unsuccessful bid to retain her office.
Opponents of Darwinism and advocates of local control attributed the "moderate" takeover to media coverage painting the issue as one of religion vs. science, and to Democratic voters who crossed party lines. Macro-evolution advocates declared the vote a historic verdict in favor of Darwinism. "I think it's a validation of parents and other community people speaking for their schools and quality education," said Ms. Gamble.
The board shake-up makes a reversal of last year's vote likely. "I think it's a foregone conclusion that we get a new set of science standards in January," predicted Bill Wagnon, a Democratic board member.
But Kansas voters didn't vote down-the-line moderate. In the Kansas City area's Third Congressional District, which includes Johnson County, conservative state Rep. Phil Kline defeated moderate Greg Musil in the GOP primary. Mr. Kline now will challenge freshman Democratic Congressman Dennis Moore in one of the most closely watched congressional races of the year.