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Local districts advised to shun Kansas standards


Kansas Citizens for Science is urging local school districts not to use the set of state science standards adopted by the Kansas board of education in 2005. In a letter to the superintendents of the 300 or so local school districts in the state, KCFS's president Jack Krebs warned that the board "changed the definition of science in order to include supernatural causes as acceptable scientific explanations, inserted numerous statements into the biology standards that have been rejected by mainstream science and are only found in Intelligent Design creationist literature, and cast unwarranted doubt upon the methodology and validity of science," and noted that the standards have been condemned by numerous scientific and educational organizations -- including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Science Teachers Association, and the Kansas Association of Teachers of Science.

Noting that the members of the board who voted to adopt the standards, as well as their appointees and spokespeople, have "all made clear their motivations for these changes," in part by rejecting "the religious beliefs of those Christians who accept the mainstream theory of evolution, calling them 'confused' and 'illogical' for believing that Christianity and evolution are compatible," Krebs warns that the board's version of the standards "are so flawed that they may be unconstitutional, and if endorsed by a local school district could lead to serious legal difficulties." The solution, he suggests, is for local school districts either to retain their old standards, based on the 2001 state science standards, or to adopt the Science Standards Writing Committee's Recommended Standards, the completed product of the writing committee originally empowered by the board to revise the 2001 standards.

A Harris News Service story [Link broken] published in the Hutchinson News (June 6, 2006) about KCFS's letter noted that the Manhattan-Ogden school district (USD 383), acting on a proposal from faculty and staff at Kansas State University, was the first local school district in Kansas to reject [Link broken] the board's version of the standards, in February 2006. USD 383 board president Randy Martin told the Hutchinson News, "we concluded that the state's science standards before the recent change were in the best interest of our students." While taking no position on the science standards as such, the superintendents of the Chanute and Hutchinson school districts both indicated that their districts are not constrained to follow the state's guidelines, with Hutchinson's superintendent saying, "good science teachers are going to teach what they believe children ought to learn" regardless of what the state says.