Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Mysticism Gets Its Ass Kicked In Dover! All eight school board members pushing "Intelligent Design" get voted out of office.
November 9, 2005
Evolution Slate Outpolls Rivals
By LAURIE GOODSTEIN
All eight members up for re-election to the Pennsylvania school board that had been sued for introducing the teaching of intelligent design as an alternative to evolution in biology class were swept out of office yesterday by a slate of challengers who campaigned against the intelligent design policy.
Among the losing incumbents on the Dover, Pa., board were two members who testified in favor of the intelligent design policy at a recently concluded federal trial on the Dover policy: the chairwoman, Sheila Harkins, and Alan Bonsell.
The election results were a repudiation of the first school district in the nation to order the introduction of intelligent design in a science class curriculum. The policy was the subject of a trial in Federal District Court that ended last Friday. A verdict by Judge John E. Jones III is expected by early January.
"I think voters were tired of the trial, they were tired of intelligent design, they were tired of everything that this school board brought about," said Bernadette Reinking, who was among the winners.
The election will not alter the facts on which the judge must decide the case. But if the intelligent design policy is defeated in court, the new school board could refuse to pursue an appeal. It could also withdraw the policy, a step that many challengers said they intended to take.
"We are all for it being discussed, but we do not want to see it in biology class," said Judy McIlvaine, a member of the winning slate. "It is not a science."
The vote counts were close, but of the 16 candidates the one with the fewest votes was Mr. Bonsell, the driving force behind the intelligent design policy. Testimony at the trial revealed that Mr. Bonsell had initially insisted that creationism get equal time in the classroom with evolution.
One incumbent, James Cashman, said he would contest the vote because a voting machine in one precinct recorded no votes for him, while others recorded hundreds.
He said that school spending and a new teacher contract, not intelligent design, were the determining issues. "We ran a very conservative school board, and obviously there are people who want to see more money spent," he said.
One board member, Heather Geesey, was not up for re-election.
The school board voted in October 2004 to require ninth grade biology students to hear a brief statement at the start of the semester saying that there were "gaps" in the theory of evolution, that intelligent design was an alternative and that students could learn more about it by reading a textbook "Of Pandas and People," available in the high school library.
The board was sued by 11 Dover parents who contended that intelligent design was religious creationism in new packaging, and that the board was trying to impose its religion on students. The parents were represented by lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and a private law firm, Pepper Hamilton LLP.