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.
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