In 2005, the Kansas Board of Education received national ridicule when it rewrote public school standards to cast doubt on the mainstream evolution theories of Charles Darwin.
One of the board members who voted to teach intelligent design was Kenneth Willard, a conservative who is now the only member running as president-elect for the National Association of State Boards of Education. NASBE is a nonprofit organization of state school boards that “works to strengthen state leadership in educational policymaking.”
Willard was one of the Kansas board’s most vocal proponents of intelligent design:
“Any introduction of any criticism of evolution or the consideration of it is a challenge to the blind faith in evolution that some people want to hold.” [PBS, 11/11/05]
“I’m very pleased to be maybe on the front edge of trying to bring some intellectual honesty and integrity to the science classroom rather than asking students to check their questions at the door because it is a challenge to the sanctity of evolution.” [New York Times, 11/9/05]
“What we’re dealing with here…is a high degree of fear of change.” [Washington Post, 11/9/05]
But Willard’s positions remove intellectual honesty from the classroom. As the New York Times notes, there is “no credible scientific challenge to the theory of evolution as an explanation for the complexity and diversity of life on earth. Courts have repeatedly ruled that creationism and intelligent design are religious doctrines, not scientific theories.” Harvard paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould said that teaching science without evolution was akin to teaching “American history without Lincoln.”
A new Board of Education in Kansas recently approved new evolution-friendly policies, but now scientists fear that if Willard is elected to NASBE, “challenges to the teaching of evolution would move to the national board.”