08 November 2005

A clean sweep in Dover

The York Dispatch is reporting that eight out of the eight incumbent school board members in Dover have lost their bids for re-election to pro-evolution candidates. Wes already gave the preliminary results in an earlier Panda's Thumb post. What I'd like to do is talk about the implications a bit.

First, it's worth noting that voter turnout was higher in Dover than in other school districts, and that the school board was the reason. If you look at the official election results page for the county, you will see that voter turnout for the county was about 20%. (This speaks rather poorly for us as a country, even if it is an off-year election, but that's another issue.) The turnout in two of the four Dover districts hit the 40% mark, a third district was at 35%, and the last 23%. People care about this issue.

It is also worth noting that this was a hotly contested election. If I've done the relatively simple math correctly (not necessarily a safe assumption at this time of night), it looks to me like the Dover CARES candidates won 52:48. That's actually a lot more significant than it looks at first glance. Dover is heavily Republican, as the rest of the results indicate, and the Dover CARES candidates were running as Democrats. They may have only gotten 52% of the vote, but the Democrats running for County Commissioner and Inspector of Elections each only managed to get 35% of the vote.

People do care about this issue, and it appears that they care about good education for their children. The candidates from Dover CARES have managed to demonstrate, once again, that getting up off of your ass and doing something can really make a difference. Don't ever underestimate that.

If you are reading this, and you are not already doing something offline, start. Talk about the issues with your friends and neighbors even - especially - if they are on the other side. If you can, host something like Cafe Scientifique. Get involved with the local school board or PTA, particularly if you have children in the district. Sure, it requires time, and who has time. Sure, it is inconvenient. But it is the right thing to do.

Now comes the hard part: once you get involved, stay involved. The fight over whether science education in America should be governed by science or religion is one that is not going away any time soon.

Let's take the news from Dover not just as a sign that it is possible for people who get involved to make a difference. Let's take it as a sign that we can make a difference - if and only if we get up, get involved, and stay involved.


Ed Darrell said...

When do the new Dover school board members take office? January?

Konrad Crist said...

Swearing in of the new board members is December 5th. Though I am just outside the Dover district, I am proud to say that Dover really won last night. Now maybe the new school board can really put some intelligent design into the proper running of the school district!

RIRedinPA said...

I think this is the most significant results of this off year election. There's not much to read in the tea leaves of the other races, both Jersey and Viginny had Dem govs already, though there was some significance in Virginia with the numbers who voted for Kaine in the really heavy Republican counties and considering Kilgore tried to distance himself from Bush and the President made a campaign stop there the other day.

But the Dover vote, IMO, is significant. It showed two things - the people, at least of Dover, PA want their children to be taught a proper education and for that education to be in the correct perspective. I think Intelligent Design should, at the least, be given scruitny but it should be in the proper perspective - alternative religion, philosophy, etc. And it showed the power of grass roots mobilization.

Anyway, not to ramble on but now hopefully the deal will be sealed with the PASC ruling against the now former school board members.

Keep up the fight though. The forces that want to throw our educational system back into miedeval times are alive and well, send an email to the Kansas Board of Education protesting their decision to attack Darwin in their curriculum.

Steve in York, PA said...

I'm just outside Dover, too, and I was expecting the current board to be voted back in given that Dover is a right-wing stronghold, so I'm pretty excited about the results.

An interesting issue that I read in the Daily Record this morning is that, depending on how the court rules on the ID suit in Harrisburg, the Dover School District could be held liable for all of the plaintiff's (anti-ID) attorney fees. Should the anti-ID parents, one of which will become a board member thanks to yesterday's election, win their suit, the Board will have to figure out how to pay for what I'm guessing will be six or seven figure attorney fees. That is a lot of money for a rural district like Dover to pay. If the new board is forced to raise taxes, they may experience a backlash in the next election.

Anonymous said...

Question: Can or does the newly elected Board have the power to overturn the decision by the previous board?

Anonymous said...

Asuming the matter is not decided before the new board is sworn in, one of two things will likely happen.

1)The new board will offer to settle, probably with some reimbursement, but nowhere near to what a decision will cost them.

2)The board and the plaintiffs will sit down and specifically request the judge to rule on the matter of ID being science vs. religion, so that maybe they can put a spear in this beast. Again with minor financial reimbursement to the plaintiffs attourneys.

Anonymous said...

About getting involved ---

I'm a Community Organizer with over 30 years working to make change in some very tough NYC communities, most notably in the Bronx.

I can tell you that making change is surprisingly easy, and takes a relatively small number of people. You do need to do careful research, think strategically, adn be persistant.

Over the last 30 years, community residents in the Bronx - stopped redlining, rehabbed thousands of units of affordable housing, created parks, schools, and dozens of community programs, beginning at a time when the Bronx was being written off.

In short --- organizing works.

I stongly encourage everyone out there to "start where you are." (A prime tenent of organizing). Begin to look for allies, and generally make yourself heard.

The Christian Right is very good at this, which is why such a small percentage of the population has had such a big impact.

"Never forget, that a small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead.

The Mom (yes, QA's)

Mark said...

I think one reason for the sweep is that the Board's actions have hurt Dover financially, not just in reputation.

In my school district (Southern York Co), the polling place was deserted when I arrived (about 5:00 PM). Last time I voted in an off-year, school board election, the place was mobbed. Nothing like a little controversy to get out the vote.