Tuesday, September 20, 2005


Kansas Education Commissioner: Experts Need Not Apply

The incredible incompetence of the right-wing -- brought into stark relief by FEMA's calamitous (non)response to Hurricane Katrina -- is alive and well on the Kansas School Board.

Last spring, Christian fundamentalist board members Steve Abrams, Kathy Martin, and the ever entertaining Connie Morris, rejected the expert advice of professional scientists and educators on the science standards committee and proposed instead a set of crudely antiscientific revisions designed to open the door to the supernatural in state science classes.

Next, born-again board members so embarrassed the National Association of State Boards of Education, the experts they hired to guide the search for a new Education Commissioner to replace Andy Tompkins, that they dropped out of the process. In a letter to the board, Brenda Lilienthal Welburn, Chief Executive Officer of the National Association of State Boards of Education, complained of "irregularities" and of being "disparaged in the press" and of not being treated with "mutual respect" by the right-wingers who dominate the board.

Bill Wagnon, a voice for sanity on an increasingly unstable board, calls the withdrawal of the National Association of State Boards of Education a tragedy.

“All it did was indicate that once again this board majority is unwilling to accept expert advice,” says Wagnon, a member of the moderate minority on the board. “They’re pursuing a political agenda that marginalizes experts. … I fully expect them to select a commissioner that reflects the outrage and anger they have at schools.”


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