By Rick Moore / Escondido Democratic Club
Both candidates competing to represent Area 4 of the Escondido Union (elementary) School District told Escondido Democrats in a forum September 13 support teaching creationism alongside science in the classroom. Incumbent Board Member Marty Hranek said it is “important to offer different viewpoints and state the facts as they are. There’s a lot of very good research out there for multiple philosophies.” Zesty Harper, who is challenging Hranek, said “I’m a Christian and I believe God created the earth. I think we should offer both views… in a non-biased way.” Hranek later sent an email attempting to backtrack from his comments, writing “I do not agree that ‘creationism’ should be taught as curriculum in public schools.”
Watch video of the candidates on the EDC YouTube Channel.
Another question probed the candidates on separation of church and state. Both agreed that it is not appropriate to allow prayer during instructional time, but both also indicated that students can express themselves outside the classroom. “There’s room for both on our campuses,” Hranek said. In his follow-up email, Hranek said “I agree that a clear separation of church and state needs to be evident in public schools. In response to a question about teacher tenure, Hranek said “limited” tenure is OK, but that it “needs improvement.” Harper was unequivocal — she opposes tenure. In his email, Hranek wrote “I agree with tenure for teachers in the state of California.”
Harper is a graduate of Escondido Charter High School who described herself as a stay-at-home Mom who tutors special needs kids. She said she has a passion to improve local schools and wanted to build Escondido into “an educational mecca where people want to move here because the schools are so good.” Hranek is a teacher and school principal who sees his role as making sure”our system is truly one for all students.”
Members voted to rate Harper “unacceptable.” After some discussion, members voted to rate Hranek “acceptable.”
Two other candidates also appeared in the forum. Both seek election to the Escondido Union High School board. Lou Barrios is challenging Bill Durney for the Area 2 seat left vacant when Randy Garcia declined to seek re-election. Georgine Tomasi is challenging incumbent Jon Peterson for Area 5. Barrios is currently a teacher; Tomasi taught for 16 years. Both presented as dependable Democrats and supported teacher tenure and not teaching creationism alongside science. They have been endorsed by the San Diego County Democratic Party and members voted to give them endorsement from Escondido Democrats.