Jul 18 2006
07:59 am

In the endorsements thread, the argument has been raised that Lee Martin's children being in private schools is a good reason to question his school board candidacy.

I respectfully disagree, and would offer a better reason: he openly advocates teaching creationism.  Martin has every right to send his kids to private school, but his unabashed desire to turn our public schools into parochial ones is deeply troubling and deserves more attention.  (Follow the jump.)

Knox County already has a private, religion-aligned foundation that no one can or will explain getting taxpayers' education money -- despite losing teachers due to low salaries.  Now the county will have an open advocate for idiocy on its school board if Martin is elected.

Here is the link:


Here are the money quotes: 

H. Lee Martin, who is running against Thomas Deakins, went on to give a definitive answer: Public schools should teach creationism, as well as evolution, when discussing the origin of life.

"I want to be extremely clear on how I answer this," Martin said in an interview earlier this week. "No. 1, have you looked at a 10th grade biology textbook lately? If the answer is yes, more power to you because no longer is the theory of evolution a theory, and I have a very, very difficult time with that.

"The theory of evolution, which was even doubted by Darwin himself, is being taught as a fact. Let's face it, intelligent design is nothing but a code for creationism - let's call it what it is.

"Bottom line is, there are so many holes in the theory of evolution that we need to teach creationism along with it."

Shudder. I guess he deserves credit for honestly calling intelligent design creationism, but that's all. 

But Martin's b.s. gets deeper.  Further down in the same article, Martin says he likes that his children, in their private school, "can pray for each other and they can pray for their teachers and likewise," as though they could not do so in a public school.  Martin has to know this is a false criticism, and he is being disingenuous by introducing it into public dialogue. 

Nothing in any law anywhere prohibits a child from praying in school for his classmates, himself, his teachers, his pop quiz, whatever.  It is school-led and school-sanctioned prayer that's forbidden in public schools.  If Martin does not already know that, he is patently unqualified to serve on the board.

R. Neal's picture

Maybe he should have prayed

Maybe he should have prayed harder for IPix and some of that intelligent design.

Tess's picture

I had a similar reaction to the NS article

Yeah, that News-Sentinel article made me scratch my head, too.  I agree with your analysis.  Why is he even interested in running for public school board, other than to bring his evangelical agenda to the public schools?  Seems like everybody would be better off if he became a member of the board of either of the two private schools that his children attend.  On the other hand, his opponent Deakins sounds like a great, thoughtful, candidate.

Barry's picture


I agree in principle with your claim, that we shouldn't teach creationism as fact in schools. But I don't think Martin's advocating that - just teaching it as an alternative.

That said, it still is probably not a great idea, since it's impossible to control what fair level teachers would give to each creation story/myth along with evolution.

But after all that to label him or his ideas as "insane" is not very accurate and somewhat insulting to Martin, regardless whether you agree with him or not. If he advocated feeding children to giant furnaces in the school basement as punishment for cheating...yeah, that would be insane. But not this.

Also, I think the reason a private school parent wants to run for school board is to be an advocate for change in the public schools so his kids could go to them and be assured of a better quality education. And I think that sentiment is commendable - whether you agree with his philosophical or religious views or not.

Oren Incandenza's picture

Diction and usage

It should be clear I find the kids-in-private-school argument a canard.  But I fully intend to demean Martin's stand on teaching creationism, so my word choice was deliberate and I have no intention of apologizing for it.  He's insulting voters by making this suggestion (and with his inane statement about prayer), so he'd better get ready to take some of his own medicine.

It is crazy to start down this road; among other things, as you admit, it's impossible to regulate which creation myths will get taught and for how long.  Let's stick to science in our public schools, shall we?

I also think it's commendable that this community has managed to avoid this sort of anti-intellectual debate, which has consumed the time and attention of other communities in a materially destructive way.  If you elect Martin, however, you're probably buying a ticket to it.  Does that make sense?  No.  It's insane, especially when you're already financially strapped.

rikki's picture

I agree

Insanity is not the right word. "Dishonest" or "ignorant" would be better. That "just a theory" line is like a neon sign that says "I have no idea what I'm talking about." "Evolution violates the laws of thermodynamics" says the same thing. That kind of talk ought to say "Keep this man away from our kids" to the Sentinel editors and to parents.

Andy Axel's picture

The word I'd use is

The word I'd use is fatuous...

"Bottom line is, there are so many holes in the theory of evolution that we need to teach creationism along with it."

...but that requires a lot of folks to go running to m-w.com or some such.

The answer seems pretty simple. Go to effin' church if you want to be taught "alternative theories" of human origin.

I'd direct the candidate here for an explanation, but I don't think his type is down with The Enlightenment.

There's an infinite number of things that you can't disprove: unicorns, werewolves, and teapots in orbit around Mars. But we don't pay any heed to them unless there is some positive reason to think that they do exist.


You can't statistically explain improbable things like living creatures by saying that they must have been designed because you're still left to explain the designer, who must be, if anything, an even more statistically improbable and elegant thing. Design can never be an ultimate explanation for anything. It can only be a proximate explanation. A plane or a car is explained by a designer but that's because the designer himself, the engineer, is explained by natural selection.

Bronze Age is more his speed.


"The iPod was not developed by Baptists in Waco." -- G.K.

Jeanne's picture

We're gonna skip that chapter for now, y'all

The only reason Knox County hasn't gone down this road is that the school board and the administration go to great lengths to avoid the issue. Evolution is a part of the curriculum, but it is NOT being taught! The teachers use a variety of excuses to put that chapter of the textbook off 'till later, and later never comes. The superintendent's office has no written policy regarding teaching evolution; they refer questions to a designated science teacher at each middle school. Good luck getting that teacher to return your calls.

You can be sure that if creationism is taught alongside evolution the creationism chapter will never be pushed back until the year runs out, and evolution will certainly not be given anymore respect by the teachers than it is now.

The coming year will be my last as a parent of a Knox County student, but if the school board brings up teaching creationism under any name, now or five years from now, I'll be among those intent on stopping them.

Please don't vote for anyone with such foolish ideas, things are bad enough already.

Oren Incandenza's picture

Really? Wow.

Jeanne, do you know if that's true for high school as well?  Because when I went to HS in Knox County, years ago, evolution was taught in my biology and zoology classes.  Maybe that's changed.

In any event, at whatever level, that's a gutless approach.  And here I was, prepared to give them credit for navigating the issue sensibly.

Jeanne's picture

21st century Knox County High Schools


It seems to depend on the teacher. In biology, students were told to read the chapter but there would be no class work or discussion; in honors biology the basics were covered, but there was no indepth study or discussion. This is so discouraging in a school system that strives to be world class and claims to have a strong new focus on science.

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