Monday, May 21, 2007

Kansas Intelligent Design Supporter Poised for President of National State Boards Association

H/t Panda's Thumb for first alerting me to the story. The New York Times reported Saturday that Kenneth Willard of Kansas is running unopposed for President of the National Association of State Boards of Education.

Let's pause and take note of the fact that there is an umbrella organization for umbrella agencies. There.

Back to it. Kenneth Willard is identified as having "voted with the conservative majority in 2005" when the Kansas State Board of Education voted to include in the science curriculum the critiques of evolutionary theory flying under the banner of intelligent design. In fact, he is apparently more than just a guy who went along, but is a true believer.

Pro-science activists are trying to mount a write-in campaign for Sam Schloemer Cincinnati-area member of the Ohio State Board of Ed who is a scientist and a Republican. According to the NYT story, it's not clear that the bylaws of the organization allow for write-in candidates.

Meanwhile, the Ohio SBOE last week declined to take action on a proposed resolution supporting the slate of candidates for the national organization, based on Willard's position on science standards. (To find that in the article, scroll down to the SBOE summary, then scroll down to a list of items on which the Board took action. The decision on the resolution is discussed in the paragraph introducing that list.)


Jill said...

Wow, Scott - I had no idea. What do you suggest? Should there be more upsetment over this? What is your take on the relevance? It sounds very alarming it? Anything to do at this point?

Scott Piepho said...

Well a lot of people had no idea which is how the whole thing happened.

What this does is give the guy a platform. "Hey we need to listen to him, he's the President of NASBE, fer gawds sake." That sort of thing. Other than that, the organization is more about tech support and info sharing than any kind of policy making. In any event, Willard claims he isn't looking to use the position to push an ID agenda.

What can we do? Short of shouting it from our virtual rooftops, I'm not sure there is much. It's a membership organization and we are not members. The one member we can influence -- Ohio SBOE -- has already taken a stand against the guy by deciding against the resolution in support. If the write-in campaign goes forward, it's pretty much up to them to do it.

On the other hand, the more people who know about this guy and what he's up to, the less he will be able to use the platform to push ID.

Jill said...

Thanks, Scott. I definitely want to know more. Also curious as to why no one's stepped know what I mean?

Scott Piepho said...


The sense I get from talking to people is 1) the position isn't that big a deal and is more the kind of position where its your turn in the barrel than something one aspires to and 2) the science community didn't see what was happening until after the slate had been set.