Archive for Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Evolution hearings postponed

December 29, 2004


Concerns raised by members of the State Board of Education about teaching evolution has led a committee assigned to rewrite the state's science education standards to postpone four public hearings that were scheduled for next month.

The hearings in Kansas City, Kan., Topeka, Derby and Hays are now expected to be held in February, said Alexa Pochowski-Posny, assistant commissioner for the Kansas Department of Education. The dates have not been determined.

At a board meeting earlier this month, conservative members of the board attacked the committee, saying it failed to properly consider views about creationism when working on rewriting the standards.

The board has been split 5-5 between those conservatives and other members who were comfortable with the science committee's work. Conservatives gained a 6-4 majority in this year's elections; that majority takes office in January.

The conservatives contend students should learn about areas of scientific disagreement, including how the Earth was formed and the development of humans.

Besides creationism, other theories include intelligent design, a secular form of creationism that argues the Earth was created by a series of intelligent happenings, not random chance. Evolution says that species change in response to environmental and genetic factors over the course of many generations.

Current standards treat evolution as central to the science curriculum -- among a few key subjects students must grasp. State law requires regular updating of academic standards, and the board decided to review of science standards starting this year.

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