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Kansas science teachers decry antievolution standards


The Kansas Association of Teachers of Science issued a response to the state science standards adopted in November 2005 by the state board of education, the Lawrence Journal-World (February 14, 2006) reported. "By redefining science in the Kansas Science Education Standards," the statement reads in part, "the KBOE is promoting intelligent design tenets that purport supernatural explanations as valid scientific theories. ... [T]he KATS Board of Directors adamantly opposes turning Kansas science classrooms into theaters of political and religious turmoil blurring the Constitutional ideals of separation of Church and State."

Rejecting the standards on both scientific and pedagogical grounds, the statement (PDF) included the following points:

  • Kansas teachers of science should continue to teach science as it is practiced throughout the world, and not attribute natural phenomena to supernatural causation;
  • Kansas teachers of science should explore with their students the extensive evidence for evolutionary theory and actively refute the so-called evidence against evolution, as outlined in the new science standards;
  • The Kansas Association of Teachers of Science recognizes that the KBOE is exhibiting educational irresponsibility in ignoring mainstream scientific understandings by substituting its own religiously-motivated agenda;
  • State assessments should not include items related to the disputed portions of the 2005 Standards, as these statements do not reflect the global view of the science community;
  • The KBOE should reconsider the inclusion of non-scientific ideas about the origins and development of life in order not to damage the prospects for student admission to high quality colleges and universities;
  • The KBOE should be aware that their anti-science actions are in direct conflict with the recent Kansas Bioscience Initiative.
KATS also recommended that the 2001 version of the standards be used for curriculum development and assessment.

KATS is the Kansas state affiliate of the National Science Teacher Association and describes itself as the largest organization in Kansas representing teachers of science. In condemning the standards, KATS joins the NSTA as well as the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the committee that wrote the original standards. Bill Wagnon, a member of the state board of education who voted against the adoption of the standards, commended KATS for taking a stand in defense of evolution education, telling the Journal-World, "They are being professionally responsible."