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Archive for Thursday, April 14, 2005

BOE hears debate on science curriculum

April 14, 2005

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— After three hours of debate, the Kansas State Board of Education Wednesday accepted two reports on proposed science curriculum standards: one that supported evolution and another that criticizes it.

In Hutchinson for the second day of its April meeting, the board members listened as opponents of evolution argued for more critical analysis of the theory in the state's classrooms. Evolution supporters maintained the critical analysis argument was a covert attempt to teach religion in public schools.

A 26-member committee appointed by Education Commissioner Andy Tompkins has been working since June to revise the state's science standards. It presented its second draft of the curriculum to the board, which hopes to approve the revised standards this summer.

"Religious and philosophical issues should be taught in religious classes, and science should be taught in science classes," Steve Case, the chairman of the science writing committee and a Kansas University research professor, told the board.

Existing science standards describe evolution as a key, "unifying" concept vital for students to understand.

On Wednesday, some board members cited their own faith in discussing the issue.

Board member Connie Morris, of St. Francis -- one of six conservatives on the 10-member board -- said she had a clear memory of when she was taught evolution in school.

She said she remembered looking at pictures representing the Big Bang Theory and thinking "that my mom and dad drug me to Sunday School for all those years and had lied to me."

Board Chairman Steve Abrams of Arkansas City said the board would consider the state's science standards -- and evolution -- at hearings tentatively scheduled to begin May 5 in Topeka.

But scientists who support evolution have agreed to boycott those hearings. Case said he supports the boycott.

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