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Evolutionary Forces Win Kansas Ballot "There's been so much embarrassment for most Kansans that it finally gave them an awareness of the importance of those seats,"he said.
Evolutionary Forces Win Kansas Ballot
August 2, 2000 8:15 am EST
Voters Snub School Board Policy De-emphasizing Evolution
TOPEKA, KANSAS, AUGUST 2, 2000 (CBS News) - Kansas voters have expressed their displeasure at their state Board of Education's move to play down the instruction of evolution.
Voters chose three candidates who promised to back science standards with a greater emphasis on evolution.
Two incumbents and another candidate who support the state's retreat from teaching evolution were defeated in Republican primaries Tuesday. The lone incumbent survivor, Steve Abrams, helped write the standards.
The elections pave the way for a potential reversal of the board's 6-4 vote last year that put the standards in place. In the Nov. 7 election, the four primary winners will face Democrats who also want to scrap the guidelines.
"I think it's a foregone conclusion that we get a new set of science standards in January," said Bill Wagnon, a Topeka Democrat who voted against the standards.
The board voted 6-4 last year to approve the standards, with moderate Republicans and Democrats dissenting. The standards, which are not mandatory for school districts, play down the importance of evolution and omit the Big Bang theory of the universe's origin.
Linda Holloway, who supported the new standards as board chairwoman last year and spent thousands in her re-election campaign, lost Tuesday to Sue Gamble, 60 percent to 40 percent.
Gamble told CBS News more was at stake than the word "evolution." She says, "The big bang theory, geologic time lines, fossils, dinosaurs. All of these things have been removed from our curriculum."
The issue drew national and international media attention, and it has generated unprecedented campaign contributions.
Debate over teaching evolution in school has heated up in a number of states. Efforts have included attempts to delete evolution from science standards and tests, and including a disclaimer in textbooks playing down the importance of the theory.
The issue has also created rifts in the Kansas Republican Party, which traditionally has been divided on the issue of abortion. Evolution has now become the litmus test of whether someone is conservative or moderate.
Kansas delegates at the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia offered differing opinions on Tuesday's votes. Dwight Sutherland Jr., a conservative Mission Hills attorney, said board members who supported the standards had been demonized.
"The moderates successfully worked and got opinion - ill-informed as it was - against the incumbents," he said.
Another delegate, state Senate President Dick Bond of Overland Park, said Kansans "wanted to stop the bleeding."
"There's been so much embarrassment for most Kansans that it finally gave them an awareness of the importance of those seats," he said.
A 1999 Gallup Poll found that 68 percent of American adults favored teaching both creationism and evolution in public schools. By a margin of 55 percent to 40 percent, they opposed replacing evolution with creationism. The margin of error was plus or minus 3 percentage points.
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Sleep well, my 99.8% grandchildren
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