Sheila Harkins Speaks Out

The Indianapolis Star allows comments about opinion pieces. Sheila Harkins, former school board president of the Dover Area School District, shows up in that thread:

Sheila
Red Lion, PA

It isn’t just opening minds and texbooks, it’s being allowed to question, speek, much lest possibly just mention any alternative to evolution as happened here in Dover. You don’t hear about the Biology teacher who testified in court how before all this began started his section on evolution by writing evolution on the blackboard drawing a line down the middle and writing creation on the other side of the line, explaining it is either evolution or religion. If a student dared tried to question this he was shot down quickly.

Sheila Harkins
2005 Dover School Board President

By her claims, Sheila Harkins is experiencing an amazing retroactive improvement in memory function. I was present in the courtroom when Ms. Harkins testified, and a more surreal scene in a courtroom would be difficult for me to imagine. Ms. Harkins went on the stand chewing gum, then through her time in the seat progressed to propping her head on one hand, holding one side of her face with a hand covering it, all the way to having both hands covering most of her face, these things going on all the while as she answered questions.

Some of Ms. Harkins’ testimony under oath:

” [471]THE WITNESS: I’m sorry. I’m thinking with my eyes closed. I’m sorry.”

” [478]A. I don’t remember. There were other issues, but I can’t give you any particulars. The relationships were strained.”

” [500]A. I don’t remember that.”

” [502]A. I don’t remember that, no.”

” [648]A. I don’t remember.”

” [650]A. No. Refresh my memory. I’m sorry. I do not remember that.”

” [762]A. I don’t remember, but I take your word.”

” [766]A. I don’t remember any.”

” [774]A. I don’t remember that.”

” [766]A. I don’t remember any.”

” [772]A. I don’t recall that I knew that.”

” [774]A. I don’t remember that.”

The claim that someone presented things in the conflict mode is, in fact, checkable in the transcript. It should surprise no one that Ms. Harkins’ recall is not accurate. Here is the sworn testimony of Mr. Robert Linker on the chalkboard issue.

[106]Q If you look beneath that I asked you a question, “Tell me what you can, in brief, about what you told Mr. Baksa, about the way you presented evolutionary theory.” And you continued to answer.

Isn’t that with reference to the meeting with Mr. Bonsell?

[107]A I didn’t — the meeting with Mr. Bonsell I did not tell anything about dividing the chalkboard.

[108]Q Okay, then let’s talk about the meeting with Mr. Baksa.

During that meeting you told Mr. Baksa that at the beginning of your presentation of evolutionary theory you drew a line down the middle of the board, correct?

[109]A Correct.

[110]Q And you wrote evolution on one side, correct?

[111]A Correct.

[112]Q On the other side you wrote creationism, correct?

[113]A Correct.

[114]Q And you started out saying that creationism was based on religion and writings in the Bible, correct?

[115]A Correct.

[116]Q And you said you were not going to talk about creationism because you were not an expert in it, correct?

[117]A Correct.

[118]Q You said your training was on the other side of the board, in science, correct?

[119]A Correct.

[120]Q You said on this side were facts based on science, the fossil record, DNA and the like, correct?

[121]A Correct.

As one can see, there was no claim made that one must choose one or the other between evolution and creationism. Rather, the issue was the empirical basis for each and Linker being competent to speak to the basis of evolutionary science.

If Harkins and others actually listened to what people were saying, they might find that they really aren’t in disagreement. Instead, we find bogeymen created out of nothing and less than nothing.

One should also look at Ms. Harkins’ comment here in light of her testimony:

[381]Q. Okay. Let me ask you. When you voted for the curriculum change on October 18th, 2004, did you have a religious purpose in doing so?

[382]A. No, I did not.

[383]Q. What was your purpose?

[384]A. I just thought it was good to add additional information. I thought, you know, we are — we are a standards driven school. But when kids walk across that stage, you want them — you want them to know how — not just what to think, but how to think. I thought, this is another way to maybe make them think.

Ms. Harkins, students need to be taught accountable information, the stuff that has been scrutinized, tested, and passed that serious inspection. Evolutionary science has done that. Intelligent design creationism has not. It really is that simple. If you want students to learn an alternative to evolutionary science, you need to show that there is an alternative that does meet that high standard. So far, all IDC and other antievolution efforts have yielded are an ensemble of tired, old, bogus arguments inherited from earlier and more honest forms of creationism.

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Wesley R. Elsberry

Falconer. Interdisciplinary researcher: biology and computer science. Photographer. Husband. Christian. Activist.

5 thoughts on “Sheila Harkins Speaks Out

  • 2007/12/17 at 7:13 am
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    Poor dear doesn’t know how to spell. Or the difference between “less” and “lest”.

    It seems to me it would be a good thing if candidates for school boards, state education and textbook selecting committees were required to pass a high school proficiency exam covering the topics included in their districtís/stateís curriculum.

    But that will never happen, Iím sure. Sigh.

  • 2007/12/17 at 7:14 am
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    Goos stuff Wes. Did you also post it in the comments of the Star piece? I didn’t see it there.

  • 2007/12/17 at 9:24 am
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    A School Board President with such bad spelling and punctuation? Should I be surprised?

  • 2009/02/11 at 10:06 pm
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    As a former member of that board and a past president, by the way I voted NO on this issue. What is so Ironic is that Mrs. Harkins stole statements verbatim from me and used them in her testimony. This one she used variations of several times (she did not deliver them as eloquently as I did in the board room, but she stole the line anyway) Our duty is to teach children how to think not what to think. She had no problems remembering spending $400 dollars for a stove four years ago but could not remember so many things when it came time to testify. She was always an arrogant pain in the posterior nether region. If you live outside of Dover then you would need to understand the dynamics of the town and I cannot explain that in this short of time. I am thinking about writing a book from a board insiderís point of view after I finish my Masterís program in November.

  • 2009/02/12 at 5:51 am
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    Dave S.,

    Thanks for passing along the information to that thread. I see that both sections of quotes from the transcripts made it into the thread via you and another commenter there.

    Noel W.,

    Thanks for dropping in and confirming my impression of Sheila Harkins. Best wishes for your studies.

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