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Slowly but surely in Kansas


When Sally Cauble and Jana Shaver take their seats on the Kansas state board of education in January 2007, the balance of power on the board will shift to favor the supporters of the integrity of science education. But the return to a set of state science standards in which evolution is properly treated is not likely to be immediate. The Associated Press (November 21, 2006) reports [Link broken] that "board members and scientists who want to rewrite the standards also want to take at least several months to do it. They hope to reconvene a panel of educators whose evolution-friendly work fell by the wayside last year when the board's conservative majority decided to adopt language suggested by intelligent design supporters." Steve Case, co-chair of the panel, explained, "I don't want the board to do anything in haste in a reactionary sort of way. They need to do it right."

In November 2005, the board voted 6-4 to adopt a set of state science standards in which the scientific standing of evolution was systematically impugned. Those standards, however, were not immediately implemented in statewide tests or in classrooms. At least one local school district -- USD 383, serving Manhattan and Ogden -- explicitly rejected the antievolution version of the standards, and it is likely that a number of local school districts decided not to address the antievolution version of the standards until it was clear whether the antievolution faction would continue to have a majority on the state board of education. Now that the election is over, NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott told the Associated Press, "The sooner the teachers in Kansas get a clear directive of what is expected of them, the better it will be for science education."