Kansas school board forced to reword science standards
DeSOTO, Kan., Oct. 12
Two months after voting to downplay the theory of evolution in its public schools, the Kansas Board of Education on Tuesday was still trying to figure out what its new science curriculum should say. It's no simple task: Three national science groups are refusing to let the board use their copyrighted materials, which are part of the state's current testing standards, because of the board's stance.
BOARD CHAIRWOMAN Linda Holloway said the board is not likely to reverse its decision.
And at a public hearing Monday, support and criticism of the controversial August vote was voiced anew.
The board voted to omit from state science standards "macroevolution," the theory that species can evolve into other species and that some species, most notably apes and man, have common ancestors. Also left out is the big-bang theory of the universe's origin.
Note from Ross: When are the Flat-Earthers going to get their way with the Kansas school board? Why not? The board already is rejecting an established science because a bunch of ignorant bible-thumpers don't like it.
The standards are merely a guide for local school boards, which decide what to teach. But the standards will also be used to develop statewide tests for students, and critics fear schools will emphasize whatever the standards do. The first of the new tests will be given in spring 2001. Last month, the National Research Council, the National Science Teachers Association and the American Association for the Advancement of Science said the board couldn't use their materials because Kansas' new standards don't reflect their goal of advancing science education.
That in turn led to Tuesday's meeting where board members were working on rewording science standards to avoid copyright violation.
The U.S. Supreme Court cited separation of church and state in ruling more than a decade ago that states cannot teach Creationism, the belief that a divine power created the universe.
But the matter is far from settled.
Three states, Alabama, Kansas and Kentucky, give districts the option of offering in science classes creationism as an alternative or accompanying view to the evolution.
Colorado recently dropped questions on evolution from a standardized test it gives students, but it did not tell school districts whether to teach creationism.
Other states have dealt with the contentious issue since the Kansas board's vote:
Kentucky's Education Department last week substituted "change over time" for evolution in new guidelines of what public school students should know.
Note from Ross: What a way to weasel around the issue.
New Mexico's Board of Education last week voted against requiring classroom instruction on creationism or other alternative theories about how life forms came to be.
Note from Ross: I guess the NM board decided to use brains instead of some asshole's interpretation of the bible.
A spokesman for Americans United for Separation of Church and State made this pitch for not placing evolution and creationism on the same level. "We could no sooner make a compromise there than presenting a choice between a flat Earth or a round Earth," said Steven Benen. "We don't say some people think there is gravity and some people think there isn't and we'll just leave you to make up your own mind."
At Shawnee Mission West High School in Shawnee Mission, Kan., biology teacher Ken Bingman explained why he feels evolution has to be the focus. Earth sciences taught in middle school usually prepare students for understanding that a scientific theory such as evolution has to have a high degree of evidence to support it, Bingman said. Creationism, he adds, doesn't have that degree of support.
Note from Ross: All creationists have is a shaky faith and lies.
Bingman also has the support of his school district, which said it will not change its emphasis on evolution as prevailing scientific theory.
Petra Stankard, a 16-year-old junior in Bingman's Biology 2 honors class, believes "a lot of smaller schools will decide to not teach evolution" even though most college entrance exams such as the SAT have questions about evolution.
"This can lead to more kids not being able to get into the schools they choose, because they haven't been taught evolution, how the Earth evolved," Stankard said.
That argument has persuaded states such as Arizona, where college professors said high school graduates would be at a disadvantage if they didn't study evolution, not to let creationism share the stage.
Creationism holds God created life on Earth in six days approximately 6,000 years ago.
Duane Gish, of the Institute for Creation Research, argues that because "science is the search for truth, I say we must consider this alternative." The debate mostly rages in the relatively autonomous local districts, where religious conservatives organize attacks on evolution as scientists and pro-evolution groups retaliate.
Gish, a biochemist who published "Teaching Creation Science in Public Schools" in 1996, argues that teachers and students should be aware of the questions he says evolution can't answer.
"There are a tremendous number of very complex invertebrates that appear abruptly in fossil record and they supposedly had evolved," he said. "There were no human witnesses; our public schools are not the private property of evolutionists or creationists."
Note from Ross: Gish is a ****-ing liar who has been debunked so many times I'm surprised he can even show his face without shame. Don't believe me? Just ask, I'll show how he lies, or point out where his bullshit has been totally debunked. You believe this asshole STILL says that Earth's biological system as a whole can't work for as long as it's supposed to, according to Gish's interpretation of Newton's third law?
The Kansas Board of Education has a Web site with additional background on its proposed standards at www.ksbe.state.ks.us/outcomes/science.html
Note from Ross: It should be renamed www.biblethumpingassholes.com.
© 1999 Associated Press. All rights reserved.