Kansas Board of Education Poised to Adopt New Science Standards - Evolution News & Views

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Kansas Board of Education Poised to Adopt New Science Standards

The Kansas State Board of Education is scheduled to take up discussion tomorrow of the proposed revisions to the state's science standards (although an actual up or down vote might not come until later in the summer).

The Board's Science Hearings Committee, after hearing testimony from nearly two dozen scientists and scholars last month about how evolution should be presented in the classroom, will apparently recomend the adoption of the draft standards which call for students to learn more about the scientific evidence regarding chemical and biological evolution, including scientific criticisms raised in peer-reviewed science journals. In a one page rationale for their recommendation the committee states that it had "heard credible scientific testimony that indeed there are significant debates about the evidence for key aspects of chemical and biological evolutionary theory."

Below is the complete text of their statement, which is available on the Kansas Dept. of Education website as well.

Rationale of the State Board for Adopting these Science Curriculum Standards

We believe it is in the best interest of educating Kansas students that all students have a good working knowledge of science: particularly what defines good science, how science move forward, what holds science back, and how to critically analyze the conclusions that scientists make.

Regarding the scientific theory of biological evolution, the curriculum standards call for students to learn about the best evidence for modern evolutionary theory, but also to learn about area where scientists are raising scientific criticisms of the theory. These curriculum standards reflect the Board’s objective of 1) to help students understand the full range of scientific views that exist on this topic, 2) to enhance critical thinking and the understanding of the scientific method by encouraging students to study different and opposing scientific evidence, and 3) to ensure that science education in our state is “secular, neutral, and non-ideological.”

From the testimony and submissions we have received, we are aware that the study and discussion of the origin and development of life may raise deep personal and philosophical questions for many people on all sides of the debate. But as interesting as these personal questions may be, the personal questions are not covered by these curriculum standards nor are they the basis for the Board’s actions in this area.

Evolution is accepted by many scientists but questioned by some. The Board has heard credible scientific testimony that indeed there are significant debates about the evidence for key aspects of chemical and biological evolutionary theory. All scientific theories should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered. We therefore think it is important and appropriate for students to know about these scientific debates and for the Science Curriculum Standards to include information about them. In choosing this approach to science curriculum standards, we are encouraged by the similar approach taken by other states, whose new science standards incorporate scientific criticisms into the science curriculum that describes the scientific case for the theory of evolution.

We also emphasize that the Science Curriculum Standards do not include the theory of Intelligent Design. While the testimony presented at the science hearings included both advocates and critics of the theory of Intelligent Design, we do not include it in these curriculum standards. The Board does not take a position on this topic.

Kansas Science Education Standards Draft 2: June 9, 2005
http://www.ksde.org/outcomes/scstdworkingdoc.pdf

For more on this see the Discovery statement here.