Daily Archives: June 11, 2006

Should school districts just say no to bad science?

Over time, most local school districts in Kansas have found that the best way to deal with the excesses of the Kansas State Board of Education is to ignore them. So it will be interesting to see whether any follow the urging of the Kansas Citizens for Science and the lead of the Manhattan-Ogden public schools — and reject the state board’s new science standards, which encourage the teaching of criticisms of evolution. In its letter to superintendents of the state’s 300 districts, the advocacy group said the “standards are so flawed that they may be unconstitutional, and if endorsed by a local school district could lead to serious legal difficulties.”
That seems like an overstatement, but David Awbrey, communications director for the Kansas Department of Education, told The Hutchinson News that the state gives districts considerable latitude on curriculum. “They are just suggestions, guidelines," Awbrey said of the science standards. That being the case, school districts that care about the integrity of science education arguably should not shy away from rejecting the state board’s faulty standards.
Posted by Rhonda Holman

Open thread

Will social conservatives take the bait again?

The Republicans are doing their best to make gay marriage an issue in the midterm elections. Many expected that Republicans might return to their winning strategy of 2000 in the hopes it would motivate evangelicals to turn out the vote again. But Jacob Weisberg argues in this article that pressing “the gay panic button” won’t work this time around.
He argues that social conservatives are starting to see through the GOP’s motives, realizing that the party leaders only pursue the issue when elections are coming up. The way Bush is toting the issue out now, after ignoring it for the rest of his term, Weisberg writes, “is bluntly insulting to his evangelical backers, who are in effect being told: Come and get your election-year bone, before we kick you back into your doghouse on Nov. 8.”
Posted by Melissa Cooley

The whole political world is watching

USA Today columnist DeWayne Wickham picked up on the Mark Parkinson story, turning the former Kansas GOP chairman’s defection into a postscript to Thomas Frank’s 2004 postcard from the state’s political landscape, “What’s the Matter With Kansas?”
Parkinson, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’ new running mate, was quoted in the column as saying: “What’s happened in Kansas, and what’s attracted me and excited me about serving on this ticket is that the person that’s captured (the political middle) of Kansas is Gov. Sebelius.”
To which Wickham added, “And that’s got to worry Republicans all over this country. Just as Kansas was once a bellwether state for the ascendancy of Republican power, what’s happening there now may be evidence of its decline.”
Posted by Rhonda Holman

No hard feelings from being passed over?

Speaking of Mark Parkinson, Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius scoured the state looking for the best person to be her second-term running mate. In the end, she chose — a Republican. That irked Republicans. But shouldn’t it also have bothered Democrats? Apparently not, because she’s the boss and the party needs building in Kansas, even if that means going outside the party to build it. “I trust her judgment. . . . I say look at all she’s done,” Barbara Stout, chairwoman of the Harvey County Democratic Party, told The Topeka Capital-Journal.
Posted by Rhonda Holman

Happy anniversary, WE Blog — and come celebrate June 22

The Eagle’s editorial blog launched one year ago, and it’s been an amazing ride. By the end of its first week, WE Blog had become a top destination on our Web site, Kansas.com, and it has kept growing ever since. In fact, page hits are up 25 percent since January. But what is most impressive is the reader participation. WE Blog averages 1,900 reader comments per week. That ranks second among all the Knight Ridder blogs nationwide (Dave Barry’s blog at the Miami Herald is still No. 1).
Thanks to you readers for making WE Blog such a success. And help us celebrate by attending a WE Blog meet-up at The Wichita Eagle, 820 E. Douglas, from 7 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. Thursday, June 22. There will be a meet-and-greet time, plus we’ll do a Q&A in which we hope to get your feedback on ways to make the blog better. We’ll also give a short tour of The Eagle to anyone interested.
Hope you can attend.
Posted by Phillip Brownlee