LePage’s new education commissioner supports teaching creationism in public schools

Over the course of his tenure as Maine’s governor, the LePage administration has earned a reputation for cronyism by appointing friends and family members to high-ranking positions.

So it should come as no surprise that the governor’s appointee for Maine’s acting education commissioner is someone who he has close ties with.

Bill Beardsley. Photo, John Clarke Russ, BDN.

Bill Beardsley. Photo, John Clarke Russ, BDN.

Bill Beardsley, who will replace a retired Jim Rier, was president of LePage’s alma mater Husson University from 1987 to 2010.

In 2010 Beardsley also was one of the Republican hopefuls vying for the party’s nomination for governor, which LePage wound up receiving. Beardsley then served as LePage’s conservation commissioner in 2011 until the position was merged with the Department of Agriculture in 2012 to form the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.

What should come as a surprise, though, is that Beardsley and LePage are both on record supporting the teaching of creationism alongside evolution in Maine public schools.

Dating back to 2010, when the two were sparring for the GOP nomination with several other hopefuls, the candidates were asked about creationism in a televised debate.

The debate’s moderator, Maine Public Broadcasting Network’s Jennifer Rooks, asked, “Do you believe in creationism, and do you think it should be taught in Maine public schools?”

Photo- Troy R. Bennett, BDN.

Gov. LePage. Photo- Troy R. Bennett, BDN.

To the question, which was asked in a “lightning round” format, which gives candidates limited time to answer, LePage responded, “I would say intelligence, uh, the more education you have the more knowledge you have the better person you are and I believe yes and yes.”

Beardsley answered simply, “I would teach creationism.”

Also in the same debate, Rooks asked candidates, “Do you believe global warming is in large part caused by human activities?” To which Beardsley replied, “I believe we should be focusing on our economy rather than chasing after issues that haven’t been proven in science.”

The term for an acting commissioner is six months, but if LePage wishes, he can appoint him for the position permanently. The appointment would then go to hearings by the Education Committee and the Board of Education, which, if approved, would then go to the State Senate for a final confirmation vote.

What do you think?

Chris Shorr

About Chris Shorr

Chris is a sixth generation Portlander who loves all things Maine. He has worked with mentally ill and marginalized adults at a Portland non-profit, on a lobster boat in Casco Bay, at several high-end Portland restaurants, and at a local meat packing plant. He also ran for Portland City Council in 2013, wrote a weekly column in the now defunct Portland Daily Sun, and currently writes a weekly column in The Portland Phoenix.