Archive for Wednesday, November 22, 2006

No rush on new science standards

State education board not likely to hurry a return to pro-evolution guidelines

November 22, 2006


— While Kansas public schools are likely to get their fifth set of science standards in eight years, the officials who want to ditch the anti-evolution ones now in place aren't planning to act immediately.

Two new Kansas State Board of Education members take office Jan. 8, ending a conservative GOP majority and giving control to a coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans. That makes a return to standards treating evolution as well-grounded science - not a flawed theory - seem inevitable.

But board members and scientists who want to rewrite the standards also want to take at least several months to do it. They hope to reconvene a panel of educators whose evolution-friendly work fell by the wayside last year when the board's conservative majority decided to adopt language suggested by intelligent design supporters.

Those wanting to rewrite the standards argue that schools either resisted the anti-evolution ones or decided to hold off on any course changes until after this year's elections, given the chance that they would change the board's membership.

"There's no real, compelling reason that they have to be adopted in January," said Steve Case, associate director of Kansas University Center for Science Education. "I don't want the board to do anything in haste in a reactionary sort of way. They need to do it right."

Intelligent design supporters don't believe the board can do a good job of rewriting the standards. They contend the existing ones don't promote their ideas but encourage an open classroom discussion of evolution and its flaws.

"We're fighting entrenched authority, not only within the science institutions but within the academic institutions," said John Calvert, a retired Lake Quivira attorney who helped found the Intelligent Design Network.

Moderate majority

Joining the board in January are moderate Republicans Sally Cauble, of Liberal, and Jana Shaver of Independence. While campaigning, Cauble said evolution had been well-tested. Shaver said last week that the board should rely on scientists and educators to write the standards - an approach likely to lead to evolution-friendly standards.

Such standards are used to develop tests for students that measure how well schools are teaching science. While they don't dictate what schools teach - those decisions are left to 296 local school boards - scientists worry that any tilt toward intelligent design would encourage changes in the classroom.

Intelligent design says an intelligent cause is the best way to explain some features of the universe that are complex and well-ordered. Many scientists view it as creationism, repackaged to get around a 1987 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that prohibited its teaching as a government endorsement of specific religious doctrines.

Kansas had evolution-friendly standards in 1999, when a conservative state board majority rewrote them to delete most references to the theory. That inspired international ridicule - and a voter backlash. The board returned to evolution-friendly standards in February 2001, just a month after a moderate majority took over.

Controversial changes

State law requires periodic reviews of academic standards, leading the board to consider changes last year, with a conservative majority back in charge.

Those changes included a definition of science that doesn't specifically limit science to the search for natural explanations of phenomena.

Also, the new standards said evolutionary theory that all life had a common origin has been challenged by fossils and molecular biology. And, they said, there's controversy about whether changes over time in one species can lead to a new species. Both statements echo intelligent design arguments, defying mainstream science.

"The sooner the teachers in Kansas get a clear directive of what is expected of them, the better it will be for science education," said Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education in Oakland, Calif., which fights efforts to undermine the teaching of evolution. "Hopefully, this will not be a really drawn-out process and it won't get derailed."

But John West, a senior fellow at the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, which supports intelligent design research, contends that if the new board is serious about writing good standards, it will have hearings and ensure that people with diverse views, including evolution critics, have a role.

If the board simply wants to "rubber stamp" the scientific establishment's views, he said, "I don't know why they're going to even go through motions. They might as well just approve it."


ASBESTOS 11 years, 5 months ago

""We're fighting entrenched authority, not only within the science institutions but within the academic institutions," said John Calvert, a retired Lake Quivira attorney who helped found the Intelligent Design Network."

NO, John you are not fighting authority, you are fighting REALITY and you are fighting TRUTH, and you are fighting EVIDENCE, and you are fighting FACT.

Pack up you bags and move out of the political areana and MOVE ON! You lost, now just shut up! Other than that all you are doing is pitching a b!tch!

gr 11 years, 5 months ago


Weren't you on another thread promoting the idea of keeping an open mind to alternative reasons due to complexities of the issue? (CO2)

jafs 11 years, 5 months ago

I think the most disturbing part of the conservative changes is the change in the definition of science. Redefining science so as to be able to include philosophy/theology and call it scientific seems like a very bad idea to me.

Sean Livingstone 11 years, 5 months ago

I wonder why conservatives are challenging the very established Nobel prize and other science prizes? The theory of evolution has gotten an award from one of these prizes, and approved by the entire scientific community. The scientific community has established procedures to validate research and if it gets to the award level, it's basically confirmed to be a widely accepted theory, unlike the "intelligence design" proposed by the religious community. That is an unproven theory, and do not pass the scientific standard established by the scientific community and it is not supported by the entire religious communities (i.e. not just the christians, the buddists, the hindus, the muslims etc. have to support that theory and make it a challenge against the scientific community).

So forgive me, the "intelligence design" is thus a concept, just like a scientific paper being submitted to a journal and got a major revision back, but the authors simply refuse to make those revisions. The scientific community is a diverse community, it doesn't simply consist of people from one science... it is composed of scientists from various branches of science and it is INTERNATIONALLY ACCEPTED, i.e. they got approval from scientists from Russia, China, Brazil, England, France etc... not just the United States.

So, people who propose the "intelligence design" should propose to all religious communities and get their acceptance and get a prize for their theory before they are even allowed to debate and challenge evolution.

gr 11 years, 5 months ago

"The theory of evolution has gotten an award from one of these prizes, and approved by the entire scientific community. "

More specifics please. As in, what specifically about "evolution".

Wallabe 11 years, 5 months ago

Karma King, you apparently underestimate the ability for those in rural areas to have a view independent of what is taught. They won't make a difference? Was this your personal experience? Must of been. Sorry that you currently work at Qwik Shop. Stop picking on rural citizens that can an most likely will make a difference in the world.

It's quite funny. I am from a rural area and somehow I managed to be accepted into a university, maintain a 3.6 G.P.A., oh and I will be obtaining a B.S. in Computer Science after this semester. Maybe you need some schooling you freaking a@#.

Wallabe 11 years, 5 months ago

Karma King,

Perhaps you didn't know that Albert Einstein was a high school drop out.... mmm.... Guess he hasn't made a difference... Oh wait, what, the theory of general and special relativity and the contributions he made to the political arena during the second world war..... His contributions don't count though right... Check your history out before you speak out of turn and embarrass yourself as you have just done.

You just piss me off you #$%&.

Sean Livingstone 11 years, 5 months ago

gr, read yourself. The theory of evolution, at the start, contains some flaws, like most science etc. But there are many research that came on later and at least one got the Nobel prize.

The evolution theory has been applied since history by farmers to modify or select the right gene to breed the species they want. Doesn't this tell something about evolution?

To Wallabe, rural residents tend to be more conservative, this is natural and applies to every communities. They are just as smart as urbanites.

However, the key issue is that when you cannot find an answer to explain certain thing, don't challenge a theory that has been proven and later resesarch confirms the correctness of that theory. Farmers use "evolution" to select the best seeds, the best species... don't they? Do you wait for the sky to fall and give you the best?

People living in the tropics are darker than people in the nordic... why? If you use the reasoning "intelligence design", and refuse to use science... you will end up having the argument that people in the past use: Some human are lesser than the others... because it's ID! Which is nonsense and lead to many racial discriminations and slavery. Science, can now explain why some races have darker pigment: A natural body adaptation to the environment, and that's why we've got more skin cancer nowadays.... and how the term "redneck" comes by... the power of the sun to change the skin.

Sean Livingstone 11 years, 4 months ago

parkay, I agree. I think the state board of education is not doing our children any good by taking away a very important part of education: The scientific reasoning. It's easy to use the religious card and explain everything is created by God (as a Christian, I should agree with this). However, it's our job to discover the codes that are embedded by God. ID is junk and rubbish, it simply takes away the scientific approach of a real scientific argument, which has always proved to be more accurate.

I always remember my high school teacher told me once: Didn't you remember that the church used to tell Galileo to "admit" that the earth is flat instead of round? Didn't Galileo's scientific approach proved that earth is really round? (not really round but so much closer to round than flat!). Of course, if you want to argue that Galileo's theory is wrong because earth is not round.... you could... that's the ID community's argument, that Evolution is not correct, ID should be replaced... yes, early Evolution theory is not perfect, just like Galileo's, however, it sets the fundamentals for future scientific research to strengthen that theory. ID CANNOT replace the theory of evolution, it can never, and it will never.

Religion and science are two different beings and should be treated separately. Attempts to use religion to explain science will result in flaws... don't let the world laugh at us anymore, pleaseeeeee!!!!

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