To the editor:
I am not saying that our nation's reaction to the Kansas Board of Education's recent adoption of new evolution teaching standards is not news, but we must be cautious not to let concern for our image influence policy that determines the quality of public education. To do so only sets the example for children that they should care more about what others think of them than they do about pursuing the truth, which is ostensibly the goal of both science and religion.
The Board of Education has not prohibited Kansas Schools from teaching evolution. It has merely prohibited the mandatory teaching of evolution, leaving individual school systems to decide for themselves.
Another "board" once made the courageous and controversial decision to allow smaller communities to substantially rule themselves. The result was our constitution, which allowed each state to pursue whatever policies it believed were best. It is little wonder that so-called progressive critics who favor standardized control over local autonomy have resorted to hackneyed Wizard of Oz puns, imaginary conversations with God, and irrelevant references to flat-earth theories to support their claim that they and they alone know exactly how human life originated.
The decision not to require Kansas schools to teach evolution theory as proven fact teaches children that they must use their own minds to determine the validity of information they receive rather than regarding authoritatively stated but inherently unverifiable theories as fact by default. And the furor over the board of education's decision should teach adults that ancient religion and modern science are not that dissimilar: both depend upon cult-like faith in their respective priests to define truth for the masses.
I for one am proud that as we enter the new millennium the state of Kansas has shown the courage to tell its children the real, if discomforting truth, that we do not and cannot know for certain how human life originated. We can only hope that one day New York, California, and other "progressive" critics will be as honest with themselves as we backward Kansans are being with our school children.
Paul Matthew Bryant