An avid anti-evolutionist is currently running unopposed in an election for the position of president-elect for the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE), alarming educators around the nation.
Kansas native Kenneth Willard will gain the position on the board – which serves "to strengthen state leadership in educational policymaking" – this July when the elections begin for selecting officers.
Several evolutionist proponents are now scrambling to try to fight his election, though it may be impossible.
"We are in a nationwide struggle for the integrity of science education," explained Kenneth Miller, a biology professor at Brown University, in the New York Times, "and any situation that provides an opportunity for the opponents of science education to advance their agenda is a matter of concern."
Willard has now seemed to solidify his run for the president elect since his opponent dropped out of the race over personal reasons after the nomination period ended. The Kansas Republican cannot be challenged now.
Opponents against him hope that they can write in votes during the July election, but there is no provision in the NASBE policy to allow that.
One of the possible write-in candidates would be Sam Schloemer of Ohio, who was given a position on the board last November with the aid of current members who campaigned against creationist candidates. Supporters would vote for him and hope the tallies would count.
Although he originally expressed little interest in the position, Scholemer said in the New York Times, "I would rather serve than see someone of his persuasion represent school boards across the country."
The controversy is a small part of the ongoing disputes between evolutionists and anti-evolutionists. Several scientists and educators have tried to encourage school districts around the nation to show the problems with evolution rather than only teaching it as absolute truth.
A similar conflict is currently ongoing with the opening of the $27 million Creation Museum, which supports the literal six-day account of creation, this Memorial Day. Opponents to the museum are worried that their children will be swayed by what it has to say while museum organizers are arguing that youth are not receiving a balanced view on how the world began.
Amid efforts opposing Willard's run for presidency, several board members have shown support for the anti-evolutionist. They feel that his challenges to evolution thought are constructive for public education, even if they do not necessarily agree with his model.
The president-elect nominee was part of a 2005 committee that voted to include intelligent design – a hypothesis that life is a result of an ultimate "designer" – within its policies. The policy was later reversed.
Should Willard gain the president elect position, he will take office in January 2009.
Each state within the board is allowed one vote in the election.