Kansas school officials have implemented statewide standards aimed at undercutting the teaching of evolution in the public schools.
On Nov. 8, the Kansas Board of Education voted 6-4 to adopt science standards proposed by Religious Right activists. The new standards state that evolution is in controversy among scientists and that there are other valid scientific theories for students to consider. Science is re-defined as not being limited to natural explanations of life’s origins.
The Discovery Institute, the primary proponent of “intelligent design” (ID), lauded the Kansas board’s action, calling the adopted policies “the best science standards in the nation.”
The new Kansas science package is even more troubling than one approved by the board in 1999. Those standards downgraded the teaching of evolution in the public schools by removing questions about evolution from statewide student tests. Anti-evolution board members were subsequently ousted in 2000.
But the board was again taken over by Religious Right activists in 2004, and they proceeded quickly to throw the state back into the creationism/evolution debate.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which is currently challenging an ID policy at a Pennsylvania public school district, is looking into the constitutionally troubling situation in Kansas. Kansas Citizens for Science called the standards an effort to promote “a sectarian religious view.” The group’s president said the state board was “treading on constitutional grounds.”