Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Final tallies: Science wins in Kansas

For the Board of Ed:

Waugh won re-election. There's no Republican challenge, so that seat remains safe.

Cauble appears to have beat Morris! Only 68% of the precincts have reported (with several urban centers that will back Cauble experiencing technical problems), but the trend seems to be holding. If so (keynehore) a lightning rod on the conservative side got burned. Apparently it doesn't cut it to badmouth your colleagues and use government money to fund a Florida vacation. Tim Cruz will still duke it out, but I expect that western Kansas will be a stretch for a Democrat, especially given that Ms. Cauble has a background in education. The debate will be fun to watch, but the fireworks will be elsewhere.

Shaver beat Patzer. I wish her a restful few days off before returning to what should be a great race against Kent Runyan. Runyan is a great guy with tons of experience and I'll be following that race closely. It'll be nice to see a serious race fought on the basis of substance, not wedge issues.

Willard beat Viola. Viola tried hard and came close. Jack Wempe is a great guy, and I hope he puts up a web page one of these days.

And in the most heartbreaking race of the night, Harry McDonald lost to John Bacon. McDonald is the former President of Kansas Citizens for Science, a former school teacher and a really, really great guy. He seemed truly dejected when we spoke last. He raised the most money of anyone in any of the races, he put together a great organization and had lots of help from the pro-science PACs. It just wasn't enough to bend the conservatives in Johnson County. He's pledged his support to Don Weiss, who is also a great guy. Heck, he reads TfK, how can he be bad?

The Board is back in moderate hands no matter what. The night is, on balance, a victory. It'd be nice to further marginalize the extremists by winning the remaining races in November, but we've got a majority that will implement the science standards recommended by the scientists, educators and parents of the science standards committee. The Board can focus on bigger issues. They can dig into ways to address the special challenges of rural districts, and to find solutions to the problems faced by the students in poorer urban districts. Real challenges, not fake controversy. Helping kids, not fighting culture wars.

That's what tonight was about, and the kids won. This wasn't Dover rejecting a few municipal officials. It's a whole state turning against the divisiveness of the IDolators. Congratulations, Kansas!