Archive for Thursday, October 27, 2005

Group denies use of copyrighted science standards

October 27, 2005


— Two national groups say the state can't use their copyright material in proposed science standards that critics contend promote creationism.

The National Academy of Sciences and the National Science Teachers Assn. notified the Department of Education in writing, the groups and state officials confirmed Wednesday to The Associated Press. The department had sought permission to use material from each group's standards.

The State Board of Education expects to vote next month on the proposed standards, which incorporate language sought by intelligent-design advocates expressing skepticism about evolution. The board's conservative majority contends it wants only to give students a balanced view of evolution, but critics say they're promoting intelligent design, which detractors describe as a repackaged form of creationism.

The two groups' positions mean department attorneys must scrutinize any standards the board approves to make sure they do not lift language from the national groups' material.

The standards, which must be updated periodically under Kansas law, are used to develop student achievement tests for measuring how well schools are performing. However, they don't mandate how science is taught in the 300 school districts.

Kansas officials had expected the groups to deny permission because the proposed standards represent a shift from treating evolution as a well-established theory crucial for students in understanding science.

"They are such adamant evolutionists," said board Chairman Steve Abrams, of Arkansas City, who favors the proposed standards. "I'm surprised they haven't done it already. Everybody knew it was coming. That's just the way they are."

Academy spokesman Bill Kearney said it would release the letters and a statement today.

Deputy Education Commissioner Alexa Posny said evolution wasn't cited specifically as the reason Kansas can't use copyrighted material, but added, "It's based on the draft that is out there."

The groups also withheld their permission in 1999, when a conservative board majority removed most references to evolution from the standards. Two years later, after elections made the board more liberal, the standards became evolution-friendly again.

Evolution is an issue in other states, too. In Pennsylvania, a federal trial is under way after parents sued the Dover school district over a policy requiring teachers to make a statement about intelligent design before teaching evolution.

President Bush has endorsed teaching intelligent design alongside evolution, and a recent poll suggested a majority of Americans favor allowing creationism in classrooms, something the U.S. Supreme Court has banned.

Posny said she didn't expect the national groups to grant permission to use their materials, but thought a decision wouldn't be announced until a final vote on the standards.

Abrams didn't know whether the groups' stance would delay adoption of the standards.


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