Archive for Monday, November 7, 2005

Evolution debate timeline

November 7, 2005


What follows is a timeline of major events in the evolution debate in Kansas.

August 1999

In a decision broadcast worldwide, conservative Republicans, with a 6-4 majority on the State Board of Education, adopt science standards that de-emphasize evolution. Gov. Bill Graves, a moderate Republican, issues a one-sentence statement in reaction to the decision: "This is a terrible, tragic, embarrassing solution to a problem that did not exist."

August 2000

Two conservative Republicans who voted to de-emphasize evolution are defeated by moderates in the GOP primary, and a third, who didn't seek re-election, was replaced by a moderate.

February 2001

The newly seated Education Board, with a moderate majority, restores evolution as a central theory in Kansas' science curriculum.

August 2002

Two little-known conservative Republicans stun Kansas politics by trouncing moderate Republican incumbents in the GOP primary. The victories of Connie Morris of St. Francis and Iris Van Meter of Thayer make the board even at 5-5 between conservatives and moderates.

August 2004

Kathy Martin of Clay Center completes the conservative resurgence on the board by defeating moderate incumbent Bruce Wyatt of Salina in the GOP primary. Martin campaigned on her desire to see creationism taught alongside evolution. She takes office in January 2005.

February 2005

With conservatives in charge 6-4, they mount effort to change science standards recommended by a committee of scientists that supports evolution.

The conservatives adopt a hearing process "to investigate the merits" of competing theories on the origins of life.

On the side, Atty. Gen. Phill Kline, a conservative Republican, holds a private meeting with three conservative board members, telling them he would defend the board if it decided to put stickers on science texts that raise questions about the theory of evolution.

Kline is accused by Democrats of violating the Kansas Open Meetings Act. Kline denies any wrongdoing and is later cleared by a Shawnee County prosecutor who was asked to look into the matter.

As the controversy over science standards increased, longtime Education Commissioner Andy Tompkins announces he will leave the job. Tompkins said his resignation was unrelated to the culture wars going on at the board.

May 6-8 and 12

Three conservative board members convene hearing on science standards that draw reporters from around the world. Scientists who believe in the teaching of evolution boycotted the hearing process. All the witnesses were brought forward by advocates of intelligent design.

Aug. 9

Board votes 6-4 to give preliminary approval of standards that criticize evolution.

Sept. 14

Thirty-eight Nobel laureates led by Holocaust survivor and noted author Elie Wiesel write letter asking Education Board to reject the science standards.


Consultants hired to review the science standards said some of the standards were unclear, especially in areas related to evolution and the study of life's origins.

The National Academy of Sciences and the National Science Teachers Assn. notified the board it cannot use copyright material in the standards. Board chairman Steve Abrams says the board will make the necessary changes but still plans to vote on the standards Tuesday.


Education Board is scheduled to make final vote on science standards.

State board of education members

¢ District 1 is represented by Kansas City resident Janet Waugh, a Democrat, who's also considered a moderate board member.

Waugh has been on the board since 1999.

¢ Shawnee resident Sue Gamble represents District 2. She's also considered a moderate school board member. Gamble is a Republican. Her term began in 2001.

¢ District 3 is represented by John Bacon of Olathe. He's a Republican conservative on the board since 1999.

¢ Topeka resident Bill Wagnon represents District 4. Wagnon is considered a moderate school board member. He's a Democrat who's been on the board since 1996.

¢ Connie Morris, a conservative Republican, represents District 5. She's been on the board since 2003. Morris lives in St. Francis.

¢ District 6 is represented by conservative Republican Kathy Martin of Clay Center. She was elected to the board in April.

¢ Kenneth Willard of Hutchinson represents District 7. He's a conservative Republican who has been on the board since 2003.

¢ District 8 is represented by Wichita resident Carol Rupe. She was elected to the board in 2001. She is a moderate Republican.

¢ Iris Van Meter represents District 9. The conservative Republican was elected in 2003.

¢ Steve Abrams of Arkansas City is board chairman and District 10 representative. He is a conservative Republican elected in 1995.


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