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Evolution speeding back to Kansas


The Associated Press (January 9, 2007) reports [Link broken], "The new moderate majority on the Kansas Board of Education plans to vote next month on new science testing standards, moving more quickly than anticipated to dump anti-evolution guidelines that made the state an object of international ridicule." The anti-evolution state science standards, adopted by the board in November 2005 under the guidance of local "intelligent design" activists and over the protests of the state's scientific and educational communities, were widely criticized for systematically impugning the scientific status of evolution. After the August 2006 primary elections, it was clear that the antievolution faction on the board would lose its majority, but it was not clear how quickly the November 2005 vote would be overturned: in November 2006, the Associated Press reported that "board members and scientists who want to rewrite the standards also want to take at least several months to do it."

Now, however, the hope is that the board will adopt a set of science standards in which evolution is appropriately treated at its next meeting, February 13-14, 2006 -- just after Darwin Day, as it happens. The standards will be ready to be considered by the board, the Associated Press explained, because the standards writing committee worked to prepare a version through December. Steve Case, who co-chaired the committee, told the Lawrence Journal-World (January 9, 2007) that he was eager to work with the new board and that the committee's report was, except for a few touches, ready for approval. But he noted that the recurring battle over the content of the state science standards is a problem, saying, "This process is clearly broken." If the board reverses its November 2005 decision in February 2007, as now expected, it will be the fourth major change to the treatment of evolution in the state standards in the last eight years.