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by Nick Matzke
With the results of the August 3, 2004, primary election, the balance of power on the Kansas Board of Education is likely to tilt in favor of anti-evolutionists, for the first time since 1999, when the board voted to de-emphasize evolution in the state's science standards. The board is presently split 5-5 between supporters and opponents of evolution education.
Senate Bill 168 was not acted upon by the Education Committee before a March 1 deadline, and is therefore officially finished for this year's session of the Kansas Legislature. This result was expected following comments by the Education Committee chair that the bill was already "dead in the water". See February 11 news item on this page.
Two moderates on the Kansas Board of Education lost their primary bids on August 6, raising the chances the board could return to a 5-5 moderate-conservative split. The defeats of Republicans Sonny Rundell, from Syracuse, and Val DeFever, of Independence, means moderates could lose the majority they won in elections following the 1999 debacle when a conservative majority adopted science standards removing many references to evolution, the age of the earth, and the big bang.
On February 14, 2001, a newly-seated Kansas State Board of Education voted 7-3 to restore evolution to the Kansas science education standards. The American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Science Teachers Association, the National Academy of Sciences, and the National Research Council issued a joint statement praising the SBE for their action. Here is their press release: