Thursday, June 15, 2006

 

Martin Sends a Message

The Kansas State Board of Education sent a message yesterday.

β€œIt is the Christian message, after all," said right-wing fundamentalist board member Kathy Martin, "of what we want young people to do.”

A new board policy -- Martin's message -- is that school districts must teach β€œabstinence until marriage.”

However, Martin's initial proposal has been toned down. The new policy contains no penalties for school districts that fail to comply. And, there's no prohibition about providing information about birth control and sexually transmitted diseases.

Parents who don't share the biblical literalist faith of the board majority -- Catholics, Jews, Mainstream Protestants, Muslims, free thinkers -- may have thought that by sending their children to public schools they would control the religious education of their own children. Apparently, they were wrong.

The state board has made clear in any number of ways that they intend to run the public school system in Kansas as a religious institution with born-again Christianity as the official state religion.

Martin isn't up for election this year, but perhaps the voters of Kansas will send her fellow members of the fundamentalist majority on the state school board -- three of whom are seeking re-election -- a message of a different sort come election day.

Retaining the seat now held by moderate Janet Waugh and winning just two other races will give moderates a majority on the state school board. This would allow Kansas to get back to the business of delivering quality education instead of using our children as foot soldiers in the culture wars.

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