Education Board Repeals Guidelines Questioning Evolution

Tuesday, February 13th 2007, 6:27 pm
By: News On 6

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ The Kansas state Board of Education on Tuesday repealed science guidelines questioning evolution that had made the state an object of ridicule.

The new guidelines reflect mainstream scientific views of evolution and represent a political defeat for advocates of ``intelligent design,'' who had helped write the standards that are being jettisoned.

The intelligent design concept holds that life is so complex that it must have been created by a higher authority.

The state has had five sets of standards in eight years, with anti- and pro-evolution versions, each doomed by the seesawing fortunes of socially conservative Republicans and a coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans.

The board on Tuesday removed language suggesting that key evolutionary concepts _ such as a common origin for all life on Earth and change in species creating new ones _ were controversial and being challenged by new research. Also approved was a new definition of science, specifically limiting it to the search for natural explanations of what is observed in the universe.

``Those standards represent mainstream scientific consensus about both what science is and what evolution is,'' said Jack Krebs, a math and technology teacher who helped write the new guidelines. He is also president of Kansas Citizens for Science.

The state uses its standards to develop tests that measure how well students are learning science. Although decisions about what is taught in classrooms remain with 296 local school boards, both sides in the evolution dispute say the standards will influence teachers as they try to ensure that their students test well.

John Calvert, a retired attorney who helped found the Intelligent Design Network, said under the new standards, ``students will be fed an answer which may be right or wrong'' about questions like the origin of life.

``Who does that model put first?'' he said. ``The student, or those supplying the preordained 'natural explanation'?''

There have been debates or legal battles in several other states over evolution and the intelligent design argument, but none has inspired comedians' jokes or parodies like Kansas' ongoing battle has.

Comedy Central's ``The Daily Show'' had a four-part ``Evolution Schmevolution'' series in 2005, and hearings that year drew journalists from Canada, France, Britain and Japan.