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Washington Co. school board candidates discuss intelligent design, uniforms

October 18, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM
(Page 3 of 3)

I do not support mandating school uniforms for public school students. I recognize that there may be some evidence that school uniforms may decrease violence and distractions for teachers and students. However, I believe a strong, fair and enforceable dress code for students can accomplish the same goals. Further, I would also support a policy which would allow for individual schools to institute school uniforms if it is the desire of that community.

Jacqueline B. Fischer, 62, Clear Spring



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

I would have to honor the 2005 Dover Trial Decision in which the judge ruled that intelligent design is not science and, therefore, would violate the First Amendment of the Constitution. His reasoning was that simply replacing references to God with the term, "intelligent design," does not remove the religious connection; it is still a form of Creationism. Intelligent design's theory on the origin of life still relies on supernatural intervention which is not testable by methods of science.

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Do you support mandating school uniforms for public school students?

This is a topic worth exploring. Twenty-one states and DC have some sort of school uniform requirements. Their experience has shown that while increasing school pride, uniforms reduce peer pressure, discipline problems, theft and violence related to clothing, and distractions. Uniforms also help curb gang-related issues and identify intruders. In addition, they cost about one third as much as department store clothing. Opponents say uniforms take away individuality and stifle creativity. It is a topic I would like a future study group to explore, but I would not mandate uniforms without buy-in from a majority of parents and school personnel.

Donna Brightman, 56, Southern Washington County



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

Science is the organization of knowledge based on systematic and formulated inquiry. Today, when we discuss evolutionary/biology education, we are looking primarily at the cellular and molecular level. Our students need to compete in the 21st Century and many of the emerging job markets in Maryland are tied to biomedical research and the life sciences. The prerequisite for these jobs often require the integration of physics, chemistry and biology instruction with applied learning models and project-based education delivery methods.

As Reverend Martin Smith once said, "Why can't scientific advance unveil the beauty of creation?"

Do you support mandating school uniforms for public school students?

Cherry Hill Elementary in Baltimore was the first public school in the country to mandate school uniforms. Maryland, along with 20 other states, allows local districts or individual schools to require school-wide uniforms. Currently, the Howard County Board of Education is holding county-wide town hall hearings to survey the community interest in this issue. That approach is commendable and I would support similar action if Washington County school communities were to advocate for such a policy. Experience has shown that uniforms may often improve the educational process and can be a cost savings for students' families.

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