Oops – this almost escaped my notice — according to the New York Times (in a May 19 story that will soon go behind the proprietary veil, so hurry if you want to read it):
The National Association of State Boards of Education [NASBE] will elect officers in July, and for one office, president-elect, there is only one candidate: a member of the Kansas school board who supported its efforts against the teaching of evolution.
Scientists who have been active in the nation’s evolution debate say they want to thwart his candidacy, but it is not clear that they can.
The candidate is Kenneth R. Willard, a Kansas Republican who voted with the conservative majority in 2005 when the school board changed the state’s science standards to allow inclusion of intelligent design, an ideological cousin of creationism. Voters later replaced that majority, but Mr. Willard, an insurance executive from Hutchinson, retained his seat. If he becomes president-elect of the national group, he will take office in January 2009.
I suppose a flat Earth advocate, a communist economist, or someone who is convinced the Moon landings were hoaxes, could head up such an education organization and not bother the rest of us with his particular brand of lunacy.
But is it likely?
Mr. Willard, who is in his fourth year on the 16-member national board, said in a telephone interview yesterday that issues like the teaching of evolution were best left to the states.
“We don’t set curriculum standards or anything like that,” Mr. Willard said of the national organization, adding that it handled issues like advising state boards on how to deal with governance concerns or influxes of immigrant students or ways to raise academic achievement among members of disadvantaged groups.
He said, though, that he personally thought students should be taught about challenges to the theory of evolution, like intelligent design. And while he said he had not heard of a possible challenge to his candidacy, Mr. Willard added that he was not surprised by it.
“Some people are mindless about their attacks on anyone questioning anything Darwin might have said,” Mr. Willard said.
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.
NASBE is the organization that offended the Texas State Board of Education by advocating that gay high school students should not be bullied. Is Willard’s nomination a sop to get Texas back in the fold?
Almost immediate update: Pharyngula is already on the thing.
Another update: Panda’s Thumb is in the fray, too.