By: David Bloomberg Re: Pandas in Plano, I Last May three candidates running for positions

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By: David Bloomberg Re: Pandas in Plano, I Last May three candidates running for positions on the Plano, Texas, school board, were pushing the "values" issue, something which has become a buzzword for religious fundamentalism. Their opponents accused them of being "stealth" candidates, which they denied. From their responses and public statements, one would get the idea they had never even met prior to running for office, let alone gathered with other creationists to conspire to take over the Plano schools. The three were elected in May, and last year they were successful in getting condom demos discontinued in the school and in having their "values" program (whatever that is) instigated. Now they have "dropped the other shoe." Last month they announced their intention to promote the book "Of Pandas and People..." as s supplementary text. The situation in Texas is that the State approves a list of public school textbooks, purchases them, and supplies them to the schools (remember the Schoolbook Depository Building in Dallas?). The State does not approve supplemtary texts, but it does allow individual school districts to purchase and use what they see fit. Several Plano residents realized that "Pandas" is a thinly disguised argument for creationism and began to rally against the adoption. Steve Levene, a Harvard-trained biology professor at the University of Texas at Dallas (which is really in Richardson, Texas, very close to the Plano city limits) lives in Plano, and he has joined in opposition to the book. NTS has pitched in, helping to argue against the book. On Tuesday this week, the board will vote on the issue, and the current leaning is to adopt. The three fundamentalists will surely vote for adoption, and others on the board are not knowledgeable enough or civic minded enough to counter their vote. Joe Voelkering has asked a local ACLU lawyer for help, and he has pitched in. He is drafting a letter to be delivered to the Board by Tuesday stating that he represents certain tax payers in Plano, and he is advising that the current issue closely parallels Edwards v. Aguillar (spelling?), which was decided by the Supreme Court. We shall see if the fundamentalists back down when they are made to realize they can be held personally, financially responsible for the cost of the books and the subsequent litigation when they put their own private agent above the interest of the tax payers. I will follow up with more news. John Blanton 3220 Silent Oak Farmers Branch, Texas 75234-2273 current Vice President and Secretary, The North Texas Skeptics

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