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Education Reporter

Evolution Standards Evolving in Kansas
TOPEKA, KS - By a vote of 7-4 on Valentine's Day, the newly-elected Kansas Board of Education approved new state science standards that require the teaching of evolution in public schools. These replace the 1999 standards, which allowed students to make factual scientific criticisms of evolution.

After the 1999 standards were approved, pro-evolution forces and the media created a national uproar, falsely claiming that the teaching of evolution would be prohibited in Kansas classrooms and that "faith" in the form of creationism would be taught instead. The reality was that the 1999 standards allowed local schools to be open-minded in how they taught evolution and didn't mention creation. (See Education Reporter, Oct. 1999.)

Kansas voters reacted to the misleading reporting by electing pro-evolution candidates to the State School Board last November, despite the fact that an ABC exit poll showed that only 14% want evolution taught exclusively and 66% want both evolution and creation taught.

Former Kansas school board member Linda Holloway says the 1999 standards actually had more emphasis on evolution than the previous standards they replaced, and that the 2001 standards present "a radical change" in the teaching of evolution. "The new board had no mandate to vote such an extreme policy into effect," she stated. "The people of Kansas need to know that they are getting the dogma of Darwinian evolution with these new standards. They need to know that evolution dogma is being protected by censorship, and that censoring evidence or new discoveries about evolution standards will limit students to learning rote information and prevent them from applying critical thinking skills."

The 1999 standards mandated that "no evidence or analysis of evidence that contradicts a current science theory should be censored." This requirement was removed from the 2001 standards. The new standards encourage teachers to evade tough questions from students about the validity of evolution theories. Instead of addressing students' questions, the standards suggest that teachers "should explain why the question is outside the domain of natural science."

The 2001 standards remove a geology experiment and replace it with "Toilet Paper Earth History." Students are instructed to "Plot the major events (last ice age, beginning of Paleozoic Era, etc.) of earth history on a roll of toilet paper. Each sheet of toilet paper = 100 million years."

The 2001 standards also eliminate a key scientific concept called "falsification." As recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court in its 1993 Daubert decision, an idea is in the realm of science if it has the potential of being "falsified" by an experiment. For example, the idea that sunsets are beautiful is not scientific unless some procedure is contemplated to determine whether or not sunsets really are beautiful. On the other hand, a theory that the sun rises in the east is falsifiable because it could be disproved by the sun rising once in the west.

The 1999 Kansas standards stated: "Learn about falsification. Example: What would we accept as proof that the theory that all cars are black is wrong? Answer: One car of any color but black and only one time. . . . No matter how much evidence seems to support a theory, it only takes one proof that it is false to show it to be false." The 2001 standards replace the falsification test with the following: "Share interpretations that differ from currently held explanations on topics such as global warming and dietary claims. Evaluate the validity of results and accuracy of stated conclusions."

Repeated problems with the theory of evolution have required advocates to redefine it to merely mean "change." One biology textbook defines evolution as "the totality of all changes that have occurred in organisms from the beginnings of life on earth to the present day." Another textbook uses fancier language: "any genotypic and resulting phenotypic change in organisms from generation to generation." Both definitions are incapable of the falsification test.

Linda Holloway believes the new Kansas science standards may ultimately have a negative effect on education funding. "Two-thirds of Kansas school districts have declining enrollments," she observes. "The state board passed a policy that will likely drive even more families from the public schools and then provoke criticism of the legislature for not adequately funding the schools."

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