AAAS warns Kansas: Science classrooms are for science


Two representatives of the American Association for the Advancement of Science urged the state of Kansas not to confuse students about science by encouraging religiously motivated and scientifically unwarranted criticisms of evolution to be taught in the state's public classrooms. In the July 30, 2006, issue of the Wichita Eagle, Gilbert S. Omenn and Alan I. Leshner write, "In the climate of turmoil that now surrounds how biology and evolution are taught in public schools, a troubling distortion has become common: The issues are wrongly cast as a conflict between science and religion, as if they were two rival football teams. With a crucial State Board of Education election just days away, and with the long-term future of Kansas children at stake, it's important to avoid such misunderstanding."

"America faces unprecedented science-related challenges -- to protect our national security, to find new energy sources, and to defend against diseases such as avian flu," Omenn and Leshner write. "If we undermine science education, we put the people of Kansas and the United States at risk. What's needed is a commitment to mutual respect. Religion is a personal matter, and it should be taught in the home and in churches and synagogues. But science classrooms are where we cultivate the mind-set of discovery and where we prepare the workers of tomorrow. Those classrooms must be reserved for science." Omenn is chairman of the board of the AAAS and a professor of medicine, genetics, and public health at the University of Michigan; Leshner is chief executive of the AAAS and executive publisher of its journal, Science.