School Board Elections Update — 06 Nov 2013

We’ve recently posted about a few of the local school board elections around the US that had enough creationism involved to get the subject mentioned in the press. We’ll wrap them all up with this single post.

First, regarding the contest we described here: School Board Election in Carlisle, Penn., their local paper, The Sentinel of Carlisle, Pennsylvania now reports: Carlisle school board names four members.

You may recall that the same newspaper had asked the candidates what they thought of a creationism bill that was proposed in the legislature. They all seemed to oppose it, except that Jason Smith, an incumbent Republican, gave an opaque response. We weren’t certain of his position on the subject. Now we’re told:

Republican incumbent Jason Smith missed being re-elected to the Carlisle Area School Board by just more than 200 votes in Tuesday’s election.

Ah, Jason, we hardly knew ye. As for the other candidates, they don’t seem to be creationists, so there’s no reason for us to be interested in that election. We’ll leave Carlisle and move on to the next thrilling school board election.

In School Board Election in Durango, Colorado. we learned about eight candidates who were vying for three open seats on the Bayfield School District Board. One of those, Justin Ross, said he favored teaching abstinence. On the issue of teaching evolution, the newspaper had reported:

[Judy] Spady, who home-schools her children, said though she reads the Bible daily, she felt evolution and creationism should be taught in schools. Hillyer, Phelps, Cox and Ross agreed.

Only Timothy Stumpf and Kristi Smith rejected creationism in classrooms. Oh, and Carol Blatnick gave an ambiguous response: “I can’t believe this is still a question.” Later we learned that Ross — the creationist abstinence advocate — was no longer in the race because somebody figured out that doesn’t live in the district.

Now it’s the day after the election, and the Durango Herald of Durango, Colorado reports: Stumpf, Hillyer, Blatnick win Bayfield school seats. Well, Stumpf is a good choice, and Blatnick probably is too. Let’s see what the newspaper says:

Of five candidates competing for two seats with four-year terms, Timothy Stumpf – the only incumbent – led the pack with 26 percent of the vote.

Way to go, Stumphy! What else are we told? Regarding the race that Stumpf won, there’s this:

Daniele Hillyer, also triumphant, took 24 percent. Wendy Cox and Kristi Smith tied for third place, both taking 19 percent of the votes.

That’s reported as if those results were all in one race, so we don’t understand how Hillyer was “also triumphant.” Well, they were running for two seats with four-year terms, so maybe she won one of them. As for Kristi Smith, it’s good that she’s not a creationist, but neither is Stumpf, and only one of them could win — but if the newspaper is talking about two races, it’s not clear who she was running against.

Now let’s go to the other school board race for the Bayfield School District Board. The same newspaper story says:

In the race for a two-year term seat, Carol Blatnick defeated Judy Spady easily, winning 68 percent to Spady’s 32 percent.

We’re pleased with that result. Why? The newspaper reminds us:

Spady opposed Common Core, saying it amounted to federal interference in education, and Amendment 66. She supported teaching creationism and evolution in science classes.

So everything worked out fine in Durango, Colorado. We had written about one other school board race: School Board Election in Springboro, Ohio. That one was difficult to figure out. The only non-creationist we had identified was Don Miller, who had opposed the creationism proposals of Kelly Kohls, the creationist nutritionist. But Miller wasn’t running for re-election.

All we had to go on was some endorsements by other board members who weren’t running for re-election either (their terms don’t expire yet). One was openly creationist — that was Jim Rigano, who had previously favored Kelly Kohls’ creationism proposal — and the other, David Petroni, didn’t oppose creationism. We assumed their endorsements of a candidate branded that candidate as a creationist. The two of them endorsed David Bitner, Kolton Vaughn and Charles Anderson.

Kelly Kohls (flaming creationist) and Don Miller (not creationist) also did some endorsing, separate from one another. Incomprehensibly, they both favored Vaughn. Separately, Kohls supported Bitner, while Miller supported Anderson (as did creationists Rigano and Petroni, although Kohls didn’t support him).

That’s all we knew going into the election, and it was confusing. Now we read this story at the website of radio station WYSO in Yellow Springs, Ohio — the Miami Valley’s only National Public Radio News station. Their headline is Voters In Springboro Change Course For School Board. They say:

The Springboro School Board has been criticized over it discussion of hot-button topics, like teaching creationism in the classroom, and offering classes on the constitution which critics said had religious overtones. Tuesdays election of Ron Malone, Charles Anderson, and Dave Stuckey dismantles the majority of the conservatives on the school board, and changes the direction of the district.

Wow! One more excerpt:

Malone, Stuckey and Anderson beat out the more conversative [sic] opponents, David Bittner and Kolton Vaughan. Two remaining conservative members, Jim Regano and David Petroni, remain on the school board.

Because of the ambiguity of the endorsements, we’re not certain about the fate of creationism in Springboro, but it looks like a restoration of sanity. Welcome news indeed!

As you know, there are thousands of school districts in the US, and their board members are usually selected in low-publicity, low-turnout elections. This year only a few elections came to our attention — not enough to be indicative of any trend. But for what it’s worth, now you know what we know.

Copyright © 2013. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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9 responses to “School Board Elections Update — 06 Nov 2013

  1. In Mt. Vernon, Ohio, home of John Freshwater, a supporter of honest science beat out a candidate who studied at Liberty University and was a conservative and probable creationist. Another creationists was re-elected. I should note that his creationism has never (to my knowledge) affected his board performance.

  2. Your comment is kinda lonely here, Richard. You and I seem to be the only ones who care about these things.

  3. Sorry Curmy – many of us have been busy stuffing ballot boxes.

  4. We care. The news is more good than bad. We comment when we are outraged.

    — Diogenes

  5. DickVanstone

    I care, just typically a lurker though.

    Diogenes: Your rage is my rage.

  6. I proudly teach in Bayfield. Kristi Smith, my wife, expressly spoke out not only in support of evolution in the science classroom, but she strongly took a stand against creationism in *any* form in the science classroom. Creationist theology belongs at home and in church is what she said in the debate, and the paper was somewhat ambiguous in reporting her response.

    The question asked whether teaching evolution was appropriate in public schools (and did not mention creationism). Tim Stumpf was first to answer and said it should be taught. Other candidates affirmed that view, but added it should be taught alongside creationism so that students “can decide for themselves.” Kristi was last to answer, and she was the ONLY candidate to specifically and strongly reject creationism in science classes. She said such teachings belong at home and in church. Tim absolutely would have as well, had he followed candidates that advocated creation alongside evolution.

    I was proud of Kristi’s strong stance in support of science – and exclusively science – in public science classrooms. I was disappointed that the reporting did not really do her justice. If she lost some religious votes, she’s okay with that. We are people of faith as well, but the teachings of science need to be clearly examined in public schools without the lens of religious dogma.

    Truthfully, evolution and creation is a non issue here – it was never going to come up in actual board meetings, or on curriculum decisions. We teach science and science only in Bayfield. When it comes to SCIENCE, we will take theory over theology any day. (c) (That’s the bumper sticker we want to make. Don’t steal it.) For some reason, the League of Women Voters brings it up… every single time seats open up. Nobody ever runs on a platform of changing the curriculum. I feel Ms. Spady and the other candidates views were unfairly represented by local papers, because they had other valid points they wanted to discuss… the role of the federal government, taxation, and resource allocation… yet the only thing the press seemed to talk about was this non-issue. They were not some wild-eyed crusaders looking to force religion upon the masses, and Bayfield is not a backward ass community of hillbillies that wants to return to pre-Scopes curricula and teachings.

    To be clear: there is never any actual discussion on the Board about teaching creationism. Nor is there any real danger of it coming up in actual board business. Shoot, it’s all about transportation policies, personnel issues, prices of school lunches and approving the purchase of new basketball uniforms.


    Meanwhile, to clarify – there were three seats up for grabs in Bayfield (not Durango, we are a small proud rural community to the east of Durango). One two year term, and Blatnick and Spady contested that. Carol won decisively, and Judy was gracious in defeat, congratulating her and wishing her well. The other two seats are both four year terms. All five candidates ran for both seats; the top two vote getters would take a position. Our good friend, Tim Stumpf, won re-election easily, and Danielle Hillyer had the next most votes and takes office soon. Danielle is a friend to students, teachers, and parents alike, and a true education professional.

    Kristi did finish nearly tied for third, but was about 13 votes down from Wendy Cox, who like Ms. Spady is a supporter of creationism alongside evolution– but again, the issue is truly a non-issue in the district.

  7. Derek Smith, thanks for the information. It’s difficult for me to write about such things when all I have to go on is a local newspaper’s account. They don’t assign their top reporters to school board election stories.

  8. Thanks for allowing me. And in setting up the Google alert for Kristi’s name, I discovered your blog. I love it! Consider me a regular reader now. 🙂

  9. Welcome aboard, Derek Smith!