Topeka Physics will remain a specialty area for teacher-licensing purposes following appeals to the Kansas State Board of Education from science educators.
The Kansas State Board of Education voted Tuesday to retain physics as a specific area for science teacher licensure.
Board member Scott Hill of Abilene, who made the motion, said the physics community convinced him it was prudent to include that field on the state's list of science teaching endorsements.
"The physicists made an argument," said Hill, who urged others who believe an academic specialty ought to be retained to speak up. "I'll vote for them if they make a valid argument."
A professional advisory panel, which has spent years studying options for trimming the state's list of 200 teaching endorsements to fewer than 50, had recommended three general areas of science licensure: earth and space science, life science, and physical science.
A state board committee later decided to specify chemistry and biology.
On Tuesday, the full board voted 7-2, with Steve Abrams of Arkansas City and Mary Douglass Brown of Wichita dissenting, to include physics, too. The action means the entire licensure reform package will go to the Kansas Department of Administration and the state attorney general's office.
If it passes a legal review, the state board will then conduct public hearings throughout the state.
Andy Tompkins, the state's commissioner of education, told board members to prepare for spirited commentary from university faculty with a vested interest in the preparation of school teachers.
For example, college physics professors waged a campaign to get physics returned to the mix of specialties. Emporia State University professor DeWayne Backhus argued that dropping physics would result in teachers unable to prepare Kansas youngsters for careers in the sciences, engineering and technology.
Dighton Supt. Ron Musselwhite asked the board to introduce uniformity to the divergent academic standards used by Kansas universities and colleges. He said it was common for three Kansas colleges to have three different credit-hour requirements in the same field of instruction.
Tompkins was resigned to defeat on the point: "We cannot solve the variance at colleges," he said.
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