Friday, July 14, 2006

 

Evolution and the Kansas primaries

As the August 1, 2006, Kansas primary election approaches, evolution is a burning issue. The state board of education is at the center of the furor, of course; in November 2005, the board voted 6-4 to adopt a set of state science standards that were rewritten, under the tutelage of local 'intelligent design' activists, to impugn the scientific status of evolution.

The standards were denounced by a host of critics, including a group of 38 Nobel laureates (PDF), the National Science Teachers Association, the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Institute for Biological Sciences, the committee that wrote the original standards, the authors of the Fordham Foundation's report (PDF) on state science standards, and the Kansas Association of Teachers of Science.

In addition, the standards have been rejected by at least one local school district. Because the terms of five of the seats on the board expire in 2006, the primary election (as well as the general election in November) afford a chance for supporters of evolution education to change the balance of power on the board, just as they did in 2000.

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