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Washington Co. school board candidates discuss intelligent design, uniforms

October 18, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Jan Kochansky of Keedysville and his wife both are scientists and believe schools should not integrate creationism or intelligent design concepts into science education in Washington County Public Schools.

With grandchildren attending local schools, Kochansky said the couple has a personal interest in science curriculum.

"Evolution should be taught," he said. "It's the basic unifying framework for all of biology."

Kochansky responded to a request by The Herald-Mail to pose a question to the eight candidates running for four open seats on the seven-member Washington County Board of Education. Candidates discuss their thoughts on whether intelligent design has a place in the classroom on page A3 of today's Herald-Mail. They also respond to another question from a reader about whether they support school uniforms for students.

Candidates were asked to respond to the questions in writing using 100 words or fewer.

Intelligent design suggests that creation of the universe and of living things was guided by an intelligent cause, and creationism is the religious belief that a deity is responsible for the creation of the universe, life on Earth and humanity. However, evolution points to a scientific explanation for those things.

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Intelligent design has been absent from science lessons after a U.S. District Court ruling in 2005 found that intelligent design is not a science and its teaching in public school classes would be a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution.

Today is the third of four consecutive Sundays before the Nov. 4 general election that the candidates will be asked to respond to questions.




Russell F. Williams II, 65, Hagerstown



What is your position on science education, particularly with regard to evolution vs. intelligent design?

Knowledge of the physical sciences and the scientific method are a lifetime protection for our students. Daily people are bombarded with ads for new methods to lose weight, increase in gas mileage, stop aging, or get relief from pain and disease. People who have not learned what a good scientific study is will be taken in by these often worthless products and treatments. Students should be taught that testimonials are worthless in evaluating a product. All students should have a clear understanding of what constitutes a random population, the Hawthorne effect, and what is involved in a double-blind study.

Do you support mandating school uniforms for public school students?

What are the advantages/disadvantages of uniforms?

Advantages: Standardization of dress and fewer violations of clothing rules, less teasing of students wearing hand-me-downs, less evaluation of students based on their clothing. Disadvantages: Difficulty acquiring all sizes, some parents will object to uniforms, lawyers may get involved, initial difficulty acquiring used uniforms, students can still tease each other about other dress items, harder to determine at a distance who violated behavior rules. Everything considered, I believe the disadvantages of uniforms outweigh the advantages, therefore, I am currently against uniforms.

Wayne D. Ridenour, 57, Williamsport



What is your position on science education, particularly with regard to evolution vs. intelligent design?

In science education, Washington County public schools are directed by the voluntary state curriculum as well as courses of study recommended by both Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programs. All are well designed and provide challenges for our students in the classroom and lab settings. Evolution is a part of the curriculum for certain science classes. Intelligent design is not included in science classes but would and could be included in Philosophy courses at the Honors or Advanced Placement level. It would also be appropriate in a World Cultures course in the context of comparative religion studies.

Do you support mandating school uniforms for public school students?

I do not believe at this time, uniforms or standardized attire for students is necessary. There may be time in the future when cultural events or changes occur that may hinder the ability of our students to maximize their potential. If indicators point to a need for unifomity to resolve the issue, I would not be opposed to attempting uniform attire as a remedy.

Margaret Lowery, 61, Halfway



What is your position on science education, particularly with regard to evolution vs. intelligent design?

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