Evolution, creation and education


The Mirror

Tom Madden and Helen Stanwell went into territory last Thursday night that has been a battleground in other school districts.

During a candidate forum sponsored by the Sequoyah Middle School PTSA, an audience member asked what the Federal Way School Board contenders thought of schools teaching evolution.

Elsewhere around the country –– Kansas, in particular –– school boards, teachers and families have been wrestling with teaching evolution –– the belief all life evolved over time –– and creation –– the belief God made the universe and world in six days.

“Evolution is no longer a theory, it’s a fact,” said Stanwell, a former Federal Way substitute school teacher.

“We are doing our children no service” by not preparing them for the 21st century, she said to the audience of about 30 people. She called intelligent design –– a theory that aspects of life were created by an intelligence –– “pseudo science.”

Stanwell drew from her past to explain her beliefs. When her father was growing up, flying was controversial and he told her about people arguing that if God wanted people to fly, he would have given them wings, she said.

“God has given us the brains to figure it out,” she said.

Madden said he believes in teaching his children the correct principles and letting them make decisions about their lives, yet teaching about faith and God should come from the home. Teaching it in school brings up too many issues and potential problems, he said.

On a separate subject, both candidates said they support the creation of another school in the north end of the school district similar to Federal Way Public Academy, which is in the south end.

The academy, a popular school, started in 1998. It offers an academic-intensive program and routinely has the highest scores on assessment tests. It started for grades seven and eight but now has sixth, ninth and 10th. Parents have been asking for the school to be expanded to the 11th and 12th grades and for another campus. Demand is high and there is a waiting list of parents who want to enroll their students there.

Madden said he wants to see if the district’s budget can support a second academy. He noted the academy doesn’t cost more to operate than other schools. There is a demand and it should be met if possible, he said.

The district’s superintendent, Tom Murphy, is studying the matter at the direction of the School Board, Madden said.

Stanwell said she supports extending the grades. She said opening a second campus could cut down on pollution and fuel costs for parents driving long distances across the district to bring their children to the school.

Madden and Stanwell told the audience they’re experienced in business. Madden runs a company from his home that advises other companies on financial matters. Stanwell said her time as an Army captain and 23 years working in King County’s parks system gave her experience in reading budgets and understanding personnel matters.

Stanwell and Madden, the District 4 candidates, along with District 1 challenger Grace Rawsthorne and incumbent Ed Barney, will end their campaigns Nov. 8 when voting concludes for the general election.

Organizers of last week’s forum said they didn’t invite Barney and Rawsthorne because the district in which Madden and Stanwell are vying contains Sequoyah. However, voters are selecting from among all the candidates.

Staff writer Mike Halliday: 925-5565,

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