Saturday, February 19, 2005

Blue Valley school board candidates

Kansas City Star | 02/19/2005 | Blue Valley board contenders tackle the issues:
• Science standards: Lyon said religion should be left out of the science classroom and supports whatever the majority of science teachers feel is the best thing to teach in the classroom.

Wagner said evolution should be taught although teachers should teach it as a theory and not a proven fact and say there are opposing views on the issue. He said theology should be left to be taught at home or in church.

French said he would not be opposed to having some discussion of the Intelligent Design theory as long as it didn't replace evolution discussions. He said he believes there should be open discussion about the issue in the classroom and it should be left to students to make up their mind about what they believe.

Kleinmann said he supports the current science standards and would be disappointed if evolution was de-emphasized.
Red State Rabble has been following the censorship issue, and here's how the candidates come down on it.

• Book policy: All candidates said they believed the district's current policy was adequate. Kleinmann said that after the district finishes evaluating the books based on the new policy they should re-examine the policy to make sure it had the outcome the board intended.

“I support the process the school district is going through regarding which books to utilize in education. If the outcome of that is the removal of those 14 books, I am OK with that if that is the result of the process and not a result of the petition,” he said.

Lyon said he also supports the policy.

“I think (it) is a good policy, and I think it covers all concerns,” he said, adding that parents who do not approve of material in a novel can request an alternative for their child.

Wagner said he believes parents have the ultimate authority in choosing what is appropriate for their children, but said he draws the line when parents try to decide what is best for other parents or students.

“The board, I think, has set up a policy to try to give the best education to the students of Blue Valley based on what the best teachers they've hired would prefer,” he said.

French said although the district has a sound policy, he believes it needs to be detailed further and followed more closely. He said he would support the removal of the novels if they didn't meet the standards.

He also said from a business perspective, he does not understand how it would take a year to review the novels based on the new policy.

“That was something that didn't sit well with me,” he said. “I can't fathom how it would take that long to see if 14 books met the policy or not.”
Kleinmann sounds pretty reasonable on the merits, thoughtful, civic minded and well-informed. We at TfK get the impression that Lyon is trying not to rock the boat. Talking about what a majority of teachers want is a way of avoiding the issue. Mr. Wagner's answers on evolution indicate a lack of knowledge on how evolution is taught already, but his approach seems thoughtful, if ill-informed. Neither of Mr. French's answers seems adequate to team TfK, and we encourage all voters to oppose him and to support the other candidates. TfK conditionally endorses Mr. Kleinmann, but the other two should not be ruled out.