AAAS “Deeply Disturbed” By Kansas State Board of Education Vote, Leshner
The Kansas State Board of Education voted on Tuesday 8 November to revise
the standards that guide science education in the state, ruling that students
will be expected to study perceived doubts about theory of evolution.
The 6-4 vote was seen as a major victory for proponents of “intelligent
design” and their allies, who have waged a long campaign to introduce
religion-based doubts about evolution into public school science classrooms.
Advocates for intelligent design helped write the new Kansas standards,
directly challenging the science of biological evolution, which is backed
by extensive research, testing, genetic and fossil evidence. While the
standards don't explicitly promote intelligent design, they change the
state's definition of science to move it beyond the search for natural
explanations of the natural world and to allow for supernatural explanations.
The following is a statement from Alan I. Leshner, CEO of the American
Association for the Advancement of Science and executive publisher of
the journal Science, in response to the vote:
“Along with thousands of Kansas scientists, educators and other residents,
we are deeply disturbed by the vote taken today by the Kansas State Board
of Education. No matter how the board's majority tries to cast its action,
the meaning is clear: This is a vote to mix science and faith in public
school science classrooms, at great risk to the economy, to the educational
institutions and, most importantly, to the children of Kansas.
“We do not believe that science and religion are inherently at odds.
On the contrary, we believe they can co-exist harmoniously. Thousands
of religious leaders nationwide share our view. We would not be troubled
to see the issues about human origins discussed in social studies classes,
however, we firmly believe that only science should be taught in science
classrooms. By definition, scientific explanations are limited to rigorous,
testable explanations of the natural world and cannot go beyond.
“Our students, like all of our citizens, need a clear understanding of
what science isand what it isn'tif they're going to thrive
in the 21st century. The Kansas science standards say that science education
must ‘prepare the citizens of Kansas to meet the challenge of the 21st
century.’ But by endorsing science standards that contain misleading information
and literally change the definition of science in order to cast doubt
on biological evolution, the Board of Education has taken a vote to confuse
students, and to undermine science education.”
AAAS previously had spoken out against the process used by the Kansas
board to develop the standards, and against the standards before they
were approved. AAAS also had said it would be more than willing, through
its Project 2061 science-literacy
initiative, to help the Kansas board improve the standards.
For more information, see:
Backs Groups’ Copyright Move Against Kansas School Board”
27 October 2005
Statement on Changes to Kansas Science Education Standards”
13 September 2005
‘Respectfully Declines’ Invitation to Controversial Evolution Hearing”
12 April 2005
For more resources on evolution and science education, see AAAS's "Evolution
on the Front Line."
Edward W. Lempinen
9 November 2005