Board member wants to help teachers teach criticisms of evolution

? Now that criticism of evolution is in the state’s science standards, one State Board of Education member is suggesting the board offer more guidance for teachers, including recommending textbooks.

Kathy Martin, a Clay Center Republican and among six of the 10 board members who voted for the new science standards last month, said Wednesday she wanted more information about materials that deal with critical analysis of evolution.

The new science standards challenge some evolutionary theory, treating it as the subject of scientific controversies, prompting criticism from national science groups. Critics have accused board members of promoting creationism or intelligent design, which says an intelligent cause is the best way to explain some complex, orderly features of the natural world.

Martin, a former elementary science teacher, said she wasn’t interested in approving textbooks for the state’s 300 school districts. But she added that the state should “provide leadership for teachers looking to teach the controversial issue objectively.”

The state board’s policy has been to set curriculum standards for each subject but allow individual districts to decide how the material is presented and what textbooks or other resources are used to teach students. There is no common textbook all districts are expected to use for any school subject.

The board took no action on Martin’s suggestion, which caught those who oppose the revised science standards off guard.

“I was surprised that was even being mentioned,” said board member Sue Gamble, a Shawnee Republican who opposed the new standards. “It is beyond our authority.”

Board Chairman Steve Abrams, an Arkansas City Republican who voted for the new standards, said he didn’t know when the issue would return to the board’s agenda.