By: David Bloomberg
To: David Rice
Re: Custer in Plano
* Original to David Rice at 1:325/805 in "EVOLUTION"
* Forwarded Sun Feb 26 1995 10:24:59 by David Bloomberg at 1:2430/2112
In a msg to David Bloomberg on , David Rice of 1:325/805 writes:
DB> Update on Pandas in Plano: Those who were there said it looked like Custer
DB> meeting the Indians. The three fundamentalists who started the whole thing
DB> wished they had never brought it up. Mike was there, and he will
DB> have a report. Watch for it.
DR> Are you aware of any diffinitive causal reason why the
DR> parents in Plano were able to recognize _Pandas_ (and
DR> Creationism) for what it is? I don't imagine Plano parents
DR> are any more educated and rational than at, say, Vista,
DR> California. What prompted the positive response in defense
DR> of good science?
My guess is that it was at least partly due to the efforts of the North Texas
Skeptics (from whom I've been getting my information). Somebody down there
also said, on another echo, that the info made the papers, so that probably
DR> In Vista, California, once the stelth candidate's sinister intentions were
DR> known there was an immediate demand for recall from the parents of the
DR> District. The Fundamentalist Christian majority on the school board,
DR> seeing they faced recall, put their intended assault on hold. One wonders
DR> just how long they'll stew in their ire. I have no idea how the situation
DR> in Vista is currently, but I would like an update.
From the Chicago Tribune, 11/21/94:
Conservative town votes out religious Right
School board ouster bucks trend in U.S.
by Karen Brandon
Tribune Staff Writer
VISTA, Calif.--Two years ago this conservative community nestled high in a
Southern California mountainside became the harbinger of a national political
Christian fundamentalists won the majority of seats on the local school
board, promising to put values into secular education--or to impose religious
doctrine in public schools, depending on your point of view.
It wrote a policy that many believed could lead to teaching biblical
creationism on a par with evolution.
It adopted an "abstinence only" sex-education curriculum that had been
opposed by the district's teachers and criticized for a lack of contraceptive
information and for having doctrinaire overtones and scientific inaccuracies.
It rejected a state grant that would have paid for school breakfasts for
low-income children, arguing that they should eat breakfast with their parents
Then on Election Day this year, while the nation's voters swept in
conservative candidates, many of them champions of Christian Right causes,
Vista did something out of character. It swept the religious conservatives
out--going so far as to recall two members midway through their four-year
The vote raises the question of whether this community has become a
bellwether of another trend--the reaction Christian fundamentalist politicians
may face from voters once they move from being challengers offering ideas to
officeholders defending actions.
"I don't think it bodes well for the religious Right," said Jordan Budd,
staff counsel of the American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego and Imperial
Counties, an ardent foe of the board the last two years. "If they cannot
maintain their agend in a community as conservative as Vista, I don't think
they can maintain it anywhere."
Or perhaps Vista was an example of Christian conservatives finding that
voters' widespread demand for less government extends beyond taxes and includes
their personal beliefs, an area where polls show most Americans also oppose
Local supporters say the vote was not a rejection of conservative
Christians' agenda but of divisive politics.
"I think the statement was made by the populace that they did not like the
turmoil within the community," said Roger Friend, pastor of the Vista Christian
Fellowship, a congregation that includes one of the outgoing board members.
"If the new school board takes this as a mandate to bring in a bunch of liberal
perspectives, they're going to be sadly mistaken when the next two years come
The last two years have been so vitriolic in this suburban community of
76,000 that even the seating at board meetings was divided, with the
conservative majority's supporters on the right of a center isle, opponents on
Meetings, punctuated by booing and hissing, began at 7 p.m. and sometimes
continued until 2 a.m. In June, the superintendent quit.
The recall, supported by 55 percent of voters, highlighted the divisions.
"You just didn't discuss [the recall], unless it was with someone who was a
very good friend," said Anita Kramer as she sat in her car, waiting to take her
children home from Monte Vista Elementary.
Barbara Donovan, who spearheaded the recall drive, will serve out the term
of one of the recalled board members. She was pelted with candy and pebbles at
a Little League game for collecting signatures for the recall.
A longtime Republican and a self-described moderate, Donovan believes the
vote showed that even conservative Vista still wants a separation of church and
state. "I went in as a mainstream parent," she said. "I stood for something
that the mainstream could latch onto."
Recalled candidates did not respond to requests for interviews. Rev. Billy
Falling, head of the Christian Voters League in Nortern San Diego County, has
said they were victims of "big liberal guns"--Planned Parenthood, the ACLU and
the California Teachers Association.
"They [the winning candidates] convinced the community that religious
bigotry is acceptable," Falling told the Los Angeles Times.
Once an agricultural town, Vista now is a bedroom community for workers in
Orange County and metropolitan San Diego. Tract housing replaced avocado and
orange groves. The number of students doubled over the last eight years,
leading to year-round schools for 23,000 pupils.
This accounts for much of the tension over schools, said Rene Townsend, the
former superintendent who left largely becaues of the board's actions and a
belief that members no longer listened to parents.
"Having people say they are Christians doesn't mean they represent the full
range of Christians," she said. "I think there's absolutely a place for people
who hold the view of the then-board majority. I agree philosophically with
many of the basic positions."
But when she proposed forming a task force to discuss the role of religion
in public schools, the majority voted it down, saying, "We are the common
ground. We are the community," Townsend said.
The Vista vote appeared to defy the Election Day trend. Nationally, 60
percent of candidates aligned with conservative Christian political groups won
Nov. 8, an increase over the 40 percent success rate two years earlier,
according to studies by People for the American Way, a liberal lobbying group
in Washington, D.C.
Besides Vista, Christian Right candidates were also defeated in an October
runoff election in Lake County, Fla., the group said.
"It's hard to read it any other way but as a rejection of the religious
Right," said research director Matthew Freeman. "These are cases where people
had a good look at the agenda in action."
Jim Guth, a Furman University political science professor who has studied
the conservative Christian movement for two decades, cautions against drawing
large conclusions: "The politics of school boards often reflect local
characteristics more than national lessons," he said.
Many in Vista feel the board went too far.
"They came in and tried to preach too much," said Jeanne Ujie, crocheting
as she waited for her 8-year-old son after school. "I think everything has its
proper place and you can't run a whole school system like that."
DR> Unfortunately it is often a lose-lose situation. If _Pandas_
DR> is not challenged, students, parents, teachers, and the
DR> community lose because their children are being taught occult
DR> nonsense and being told it is "science." When _Pandas_ =IS=
DR> challenged, the school board squanders tens of thousands of
DR> dollars defending their violation of the Constitution. School
Yup. Well, in this case, it looks like rationality and science actually won
out -- neither of the above happened.
DR> board members should be PERSONALY responsible for law suits
DR> filed against the school boards that introduce occult crap
DR> (Creationism) into the school curriculum.
I agree. Same goes for other things, like that board which is fighting a court
order to remove a picture of Jesus (we should carry this portion of the
conversation over to CHURCH&STATE, so I'll be x-posting this message there,
DR> These Creationists =MUST= have been aware that _Pandas_ violates the
DR> neutrality of religion in Government: make them pay for these
DR> violations, not the tax payers AND NOT THE CHILDREN!