Arizona Education Candidates, Many Creationists

We’ve written before about the creationist madness in Arizona. The last time was Arizona Creationism — The Governor Speaks Up. As you know, Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas is a flaming creationist, as are most of her staff.

There’s an election coming up for the position now held by Douglas, and she’s one of the candidates. We found an article about it in The Arizona Republic of Phoenix, Arizona, the state capital. Their headline is Most GOP candidates for top Arizona schools post support teaching creationism, and they have a comments feature. Here are some excerpt from the news story, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

Four out of the five Republican candidates running for state superintendent of public instruction said they believe Arizona students should be taught creationism and intelligent design as part of science learning requirements.[Groan] The candidates’ comments came during Wednesday night’s debate hosted by The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com [their website].

Only four out of five? Hey — it could be worse. Then they say:

Jonathan Gelbart was the sole Republican candidate who opposed teaching students creationism and intelligent design. He is joined by Democrats Kathy Hoffman and David Schapira. The four others [Republicans, presumably] — Bob Branch, Frank Riggs, Tracy Livingston and incumbent Diane Douglas — each said they believed students should be taught those topics in some capacity.

Amazing. Then they tells us:

Republican candidates were asked by moderator and Republic reporter Richard Ruelas whether they were in favor of teaching accepted science, including climate change and evolution. The question morphed into a broader discussion over the teachings of creationism and intelligent design in Arizona public schools.

This is the response of the one sane Republican:

Gelbart, 29, a former director of charter development for BASIS.ed, touted that he is the only Republican candidate to say that he “absolutely (does) not support” including the teachings of creationism and intelligent design as part of the science standards they are required to learn. “It’s not science,” Gelbart said.

And here’s what some of the other Republicans said:

Livingston, 55, a Maricopa Community College board member and former classroom teacher, said that while she supports creationism, “it’s just a no-no” for teachers to bring it up in front of students. Multiple candidates accused her of backtracking from an earlier stance at a previous debate. “Schools don’t even allow Merry Christmas anymore,” Livingston said. “I wish we could say something (that) there is creationism, there are these things. We can’t say it. There’s one thing to want it, there’s another thing to actually do it.”

Weird stuff. Here’s another:

Riggs, 67, a former U.S. congressman who ran for Arizona governor in 2014, said he believes older students in high school are “perfectly capable of looking at the arguments of both sides of evolution.” Riggs said older students “should know what our founding fathers believed and put in our founding documents,” referencing part of the Declaration of Independence that states, “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.”

Idiot! He’s quote-mining what Jefferson wrote. Oh, here’s what Douglas, the incumbent, said:

Douglas, who is running for re-election, said she “absolutely” believes that creationism and intelligent design should be taught alongside evolution because “they should be brought all sides of an argument.” Douglas reasoned that this would help make students critical thinkers. [Hee hee!] “The courts have ruled very strongly for whatever reason that creationism and intelligent design is not allowed in our school. I vehemently disagree with that,” Douglas said.

Yeah, who cares what the courts say? Let’s read on:

Both Democrats disagreed with the four Republicans. Hoffman, an educator, said Thursday that “it’s critically important that the science taught in our schools is research based and evidence based.” She said creationism and intelligent design are “religious concepts.”

Very reasonable. Another excerpt:

Schapira, a Tempe Councilman, said those topics should be taught in a religious studies class, not as a part of science. … “We cannot handicap our students by having state standards that reflect a certain ideological belief,” Schapira said.

Okay, that’s enough. We think the primary election for Education Superintendent will be held on 28 August. The voters of Arizona can pick one sane Republican (out of a field of five) and either of two Democrats who are reasonable on the creationism issue. It’ll be fun to see what happens, so stay tuned to this blog.

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11 responses to “Arizona Education Candidates, Many Creationists

  1. Michael Fugate

    Republican office holders can’t be trusted on any part of education – period.

  2. +1000.

  3. Mark Germano

    “The courts have ruled very strongly for whatever reason that creationism and intelligent design is not allowed in our school. I vehemently disagree with that,” Douglas said.

    Whatever reason? I bet he know that reason is the Constitution.

  4. “I bet he know[s] that reason is the Constitution”
    Which he has scrupulously avoided ever reading, let along thinking about.

  5. Note: Diane Douglas is a she, not a he.

    It seems odd that the sane ones didn’t mention Dover. And if the four creationists are themselves clueless about Dover, they are not qualified to be superintendent of education.

  6. Am I the only person around here old enough to remember when the GOP wasn’t the automatic Party of Crazy?

  7. [Jonathan] Gelbart, 29, a former director of charter development for BASIS.ed, touted that he is the only Republican candidate to say that he “absolutely (does) not support” including the teachings of creationism and intelligent design as part of the science standards they are required to learn. “It’s not science,” Gelbart said.

    Hear, hear. It’s nice to know there are some GOP’ers in politics who are willing to say such things in public.

  8. Here’s what this Republican would say: Students < 1% of their waking hours learning biology in science class. There they must learn only what has *earned* the right to be taught, and that's evolution. They have the other 99+% of the time to learn on their own all the mutually-contradictory, long-discredited "alternatives", as well as the scams that don't mention those "alternatives", but just misrepresent evolution to promote unreasonable doubt.

  9. Megalonyx: “Am I the only person around here old enough to remember when the GOP wasn’t the automatic Party of Crazy?”

    No, and I’m still hoping that this “crazy” era is just a passing fad. I wrote in Jon Huntsman in 2016 because he said (in 2011): “The minute that the Republican Party becomes… the anti-science party, we have a huge problem.” Unfortunately he underestimated how anti-science voters (of both parties) are, and how easily they can be conned with feel-good sound bites, even if those “salesmen” never “deliver the goods” (and yes that’s a reference to “The Art of the Deal” which the real author, Tony Schwartz now regrets writing).

  10. Megalonyx asks: “Am I the only person around here old enough to remember when the GOP wasn’t the automatic Party of Crazy?”

    Your Curmudgeon is a remnant of those days. But the Democrats who get all the headlines these days are increasingly embracing their own variety of madness. It’s not a good situation.

  11. Our Curmudgeon makes full disclosure:

    Your Curmudgeon is a remnant of those days.

    For my part, I meant the Eisenhower era.

    But I have heard from others of your age that those Lincoln/Douglas debates really were humdingers!