Wednesday, August 10, 2005

COM: I drove through Kansas once . . .

Actually, i'm for anyplace that would like to acquire from us the mantle of intellectual backwater of the universe . . .

Kansas Board Advances a Draft Critical of Evolution
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, August 10, 2005, The New York Times

TOPEKA, Kan., Aug. 9 (AP) - The State Board of Education has approved the latest draft of science standards that include greater criticism of evolution.

The board approved the draft on Tuesday by a vote to 6 to 4. It then voted to send it to be reviewed by outside academics. The board is expected to give its final approval in October.

The draft says the board is not advocating the teaching of "intelligent design," which contends that some features of the natural world are best explained by an intelligent creator, not evolution. But the language favored by the board does come from advocates of intelligent design.

In a debate on Tuesday, board members opposed to the draft said religion had no place in the science classroom.

"When mainstream science accepts this, we can put them in science classes," said Janet Waugh, who voted against the latest draft of the standards.

Proponents of the draft said they wanted a more balanced view of evolution and cited testimony from a hearing in May featuring advocates of intelligent design.

Kathy Martin, the newest board member and a former science teacher, said that opponents of the draft were overreacting and that Kansas was not going to lose any jobs or technological advancements because evolution was given a critical eye.

"I hope you guys can realize it's not going to be the end of the world," Ms. Martin said. "I hope you will try to be more open-minded."

The standards are used to develop state tests for 4th, 7th and 10th graders, with local schools having the final say on what is taught in their classrooms. Students will be tested on the new standards in the 2007-8 school year.

In 1999 the Kansas board drew international attention when it deleted most references to evolution from its science standards. Elections the next year resulted in a less conservative board, which led to the current, evolution-friendly standards. Conservatives recaptured the board's majority in the 2004 elections.