Kansas hearings

From: Keith Miller <kbmill@ksu.edu>
Date: Tue Jun 14 2005 - 10:50:49 EDT

I attach an interesting article on one of the three state school board
members who was on the subcommittee that oversaw the Kansas science
standards hearings and is responsible for "advising" the board on its
decision with regard to science standards. Connie Morris was one of
the three board members who sat in judgement over the hearings.


Lawrence Journal-World

State Board of Ed’s Morris causes stir with newsletter
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
Topeka — State Board of Education member Connie Morris has issued a
newsletter that criticizes evolution as an “age-old fairytale” and
describes board members who disagree with her as liberal, rude,
disruptive and phony.
Morris, a conservative Republican from St. Francis in western Kansas,
on Monday declined to speak with reporters about the taxpayer-funded
newsletter, but she was confronted about it by one of the board members
whom she criticized — Carol Rupe, a moderate Republican from Wichita.
“You really hurt my feelings,” Rupe said to Morris after a board
committee meeting at the State Department of Education. The two briefly
hugged, but Rupe was still emotional.
“She can say what she wants about her own position, but I don’t think
it’s fair to say that about me,” Rupe said.
On two occasions, reporters asked Morris to comment on the newsletter,
but both times Morris said she didn’t have time because she had to
attend meetings in the education building.
‘Gutterball politics’
The blistering, four-page letter under state Board of Education
letterhead was brought to the attention of the media by board member
Bill Wagnon, a Democrat from Topeka, whose district includes Douglas
Wagnon, who has often opposed the conservative side of the board, said
Morris’ comments were hypocritical.
“She has clothed herself in a certain kind of righteousness and refused
to admit she is involved in gutterball politics,” he said.
The newsletter focuses on the recent fight about science standards in
Kansas schools. The 6-4 conservative majority on the board favors
standards that criticize evolution.
Morris’ comments
In the newsletter, Morris says she is a Christian who believes in the
literal depiction of the origin of life contained in Genesis. She said
“poor science” insists it has all the answers “with anti-God contempt
and arrogance.”
She said supporters of evolution were in “panic mode.” She described
Wagnon as a liberal and Sue Gamble, a moderate Republican from Shawnee,
as “continually most disruptive and rude.”
She said her favorite “blooper” during board debate on evolution came
from Rupe who said “with psuedo-innocence” that she was mystified by
opposition to science.
During a hearing last month on the science standards, Morris said
opponents of evolution presented extraordinary testimony.
“In short, Darwin’s theory of evolution is biologically, genetically,
mathematically, chemically, metaphysically and etc. ‘wildly’ and
‘utterly impossible.’”
She said mainstream scientists who boycotted the meeting acted
cowardly, and she criticized the media.
She asked her constituents to pray for the conservatives on the board
as they fought liberals.
“As we forge every bit of our being for the battles ahead, I humbly ask
for your prayers. It’s certain you have plenty for which to beseech the
Lord — but if you think of us, please request strength, wisdom and
courage on our behalf,” she wrote.
Morris also wrote about the recent order by the Kansas Supreme Court to
increase school funding by $285 million by July.
Discussion expected
She said schools didn’t need any funding above the $142 million that
Republicans had approved, and she was disturbed that the Legislature
had increased funding for non-English speaking students.
Morris has said before she doesn’t believe the state should educate the
children of illegal immigrants in Kansas.
Wagnon said it was inappropriate for taxpayers to be paying for the
kind of message Morris had in her newsletter.
“It’s partisan. I think she has crossed the line,” he said.
During the full board’s meeting this week, Wagnon said he would bring
up the issue of newsletter expenses.
Education Department officials said they did not know how much the
newsletter cost because they didn’t know how many people received it
and Morris had not turned in a reimbursement form for it yet. Because
it mentions the June 3 state Supreme Court decision on school finance,
it had to have been sent recently.
Received on Tue Jun 14 10:53:57 2005

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