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Archive for Friday, October 28, 2005

Science standards vote still on

Removing copyrighted material means major revisions needed

October 28, 2005

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— Criticism of proposed science standards that question evolution continue to pile up, but state education officials are expected to approve them soon.

On Wednesday, two groups - the National Academy of Sciences and National Science Teachers Assn. - announced that the State Board of Education couldn't use the organizations' copyrighted material in the proposed standards.

Earlier this month, a consultant hired by the state to review the standards said the standards were unclear, especially in areas related to evolution and the study of life's origins.

And in September, a group of 38 Nobel laureates, including leading scientists, asked the board to reject the standards because they said the proposal promoted intelligent design, which holds that the complexities of life point toward evidence of a creator.

Even so, a news release Thursday from the Department of Education said a vote by the Education Board to adopt the proposed standards is expected to occur as scheduled on Nov. 8.

Board Chairman Steve Abrams, a conservative Republican from Arkansas City, said that despite the complaints, he still supports the standards.

"It is unfortunate that we will now have to dedicate additional time and effort to revising portions of the standards to avoid copyright infringement, but I respect the opinions of the members of the National Academy of Sciences, even if I cannot agree with them," he said.

With the groups withdrawing permission to use copyrighted material, the Department of Education must now go through the standards and either omit or rewrite language that it used from the two groups' national guidelines.

Steve Case, the Kansas University scientist who has led efforts to teach evolution, said the work needed to write around the national groups' language will be major.

"The rewriting is going to be extensive. It's an extraordinarily different writing task. If the writing is going to be coherent they need to start over," he said.

Case is the co-chairman of a committee that was appointed by the Education Board to put together the science standards. A conservative majority on the board, however, rejected Case's efforts and supported standards that criticize evolution.

Case said the majority of the board had ignored his committee's efforts and the consultant's review. "But this copyright issue is a legal issue that they can't ignore," he said.

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