It's still two years until his graduation day at Kansas University, but Mike Karlin already is eyeing the job market out of state.
Karlin, an education major from Overland Park who plans to teach high school biology, said he was tempted to avoid the controversy of teaching evolution in Kansas by landing a job elsewhere.
"It puts teachers in Kansas in a difficult situation," Karlin said. "It would make it more likely for me to go somewhere else."
For Karlin and other KU education majors, today's vote by the state Board of Education on the teaching of evolution is more than a hot-button political and social issue - soon it'll be part of their livelihood.
The evolution vote is expected to open state science curriculum to criticism of evolutionary theory while opening the door for more discussion of "intelligent design" - the belief that an intelligent being caused some complex features of the natural world.
The debate has been a topic of conversation in a variety of KU classes this fall, said Jim Ellis, associate professor of teaching and leadership.
"It comes up," Ellis said. "I send them e-mails of stories from the (news), so they're aware of the issue. The topic is something that's been around 80 or more years. That hasn't changed. I try to give them information about what's going on in Kansas - it's an interesting educational and political issue to follow."
Karlin said no matter which side future biology teachers are on with the issue, they know their teaching of evolution will be scrutinized by the time they make it into the classroom.
"In my opinion, it's impossible to teach intelligent design without bringing God into it," he said. "And you're not supposed to have God in public schools. If you're allowed to do that, it brings up the whole separation of church and state thing."
Kelly Calderone, a graduate student from Olathe who also plans to teach high school biology, said she was "on the fence" when it came to the evolution issue.
"I'm a Christian, so I have a difficult time with that one," she said. "I think God has a hand in things. I believe that, but do I need to teach that in the classroom? No."
She said she would prefer evolutionary theory to focus less on the origin of life and more on evolution within species - why, for instance, some iguanas have adapted to swim while others have not.
She said she feared parents someday would call her to complain about something she told her students in class.
"It makes me more nervous with parents than it does with students," she said.
Unlike Karlin, Calderone said the evolution controversy wouldn't persuade her to move out of state after graduation.
"I'd like to stay in Kansas," she said. "I kind of want to be involved with this drama."
Evolution poll: Kansas by the numbersEvolution poll: Kansas by the numbers
- Complete poll results: In Douglas County
- Complete poll results: By district
- Complete poll results: By age
- Complete poll results: By education level
- Complete poll results: By gender
- Graph gallery: Poll results
- Take the survey yourself
- Learning Evolution: Readers' Stories
- 6News video: Poll: Evolution should be taught in schools (10-09-05)
- Can God, evolution coexist?
- Douglas County in line with the rest of Kansas
- Responses appear linked to education level
- More seniors against teaching evolution
- Intelligent design good politics for some on Board of Education
Evolution in Kansas
- 6News video: Some question group's move with elections nearing (07-08-06)
- 49abcnews.com video: Discovery Institute starts ad campaign weeks before elections (07-07-06)
- 6News video: Film explores evolution circus (01-03-06)
- 6News video: Group takes shot at Mirecki through postcards (12-15-05)
- 6News video: Mirecki resigns from KU department post (12-07-05)
- Education board to revisit debate over evolution (02-11-07)
- As old board departs, new evolution stance takes shape (12-14-06)
- Biologist speaks for intelligent design (12-08-06)
- Cultures clash in Democratic primary (07-06-06)
- Education department spokesman leaves job (06-15-06)
- Evolution, religion comments put heat on department spokesman (05-26-06)
- KU profs support evolution skepticism (02-21-06)
- Science teachers pan new standards (02-14-06)
- 'Dodos' circling around I.D. (01-04-06)
- Attorneys in I.D. case spread message (01-04-06)
- Professor blasts KU, sheriff's investigation (12-10-05)
- Kansas ranks last in science (12-08-05)
- Discovery Institute
- Evolution timeline: Events related to the Kansas controversy
- U.S. District Court Ruling in Kitzmiller et al v. Dover Area School District (PDF)
- Center for Science and Culture: A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism
- Parody: Intelligent Design Society of Kansas
- Mirecki press release (.pdf)
- More evolution coverage
- LJWorld.com's Evolution in Kansas coverage