Fwd: Kansas Rejects Evolution In Science Classes

James W. Perry jperry at UWC.EDU
Thu Aug 12 17:25:15 EST 1999

>I don't normally forward things like this to a news group, but it's a sad 
>day for science when this sort of garbage happens. If I lived in Kansas, 
>and was a biologist, I would be wondering what is going on in the world. 
>Come to think of it, I don't live there and I am still wondering.

Where did we, as science educators, fail?

> >By Carey Gillam
> >
> >TOPEKA, Kan. (Reuters) - The Kansas Board of Education rejected evolution
> >as a scientific principle Wednesday, dealing a victory to religious
> >conservatives who are increasingly challenging science education in U.S.
> >schools.
> >
> >The 10-member board, ignoring pleas by educators and most scientists, voted
> >six to four to embrace new standards for science curricula that eliminate
> >evolution as an underlying principle of biology and other sciences.
> >
> >``It's a step forward. We're going to improve rather than detract from
> >science education in Kansas,'' said Scott Hill, a farmer and board member
> >who helped write the new standards.
> >
> >``There's a liberal agenda to build up or glorify evolution in our
> >schools,'' Hill said, adding that evolution had been pushed on students as
> >a ``dogmatic fact.''
> >
> >Individual schools can continue to teach evolution in science classes from
> >elementary through high school, but knowledge of evolution will not be
> >required and will not be needed to pass state-sanctioned tests.
> >
> >School board members opposed to removing evolution from the curriculum
> >recoiled at the change.
> >
> >``In removing an important concept like evolution from life sciences and
> >biology, (students) are going to go essentially crippled. It's like
> >removing a leg and asking you to run a 100-yard dash,'' board member
> >William Wagnon said.
> >
> >Others predicted students would fail college entrance exams and be
> >ill-prepared for college science classes.
> >
> >``Our children will not be prepared,'' member Val DeFever said. ``It's sad
> >that people are attacking education.''
> >
> >The guidelines eliminate evolution as a way to describe the emergence of
> >new species -- for instance the evolution of primates into homo sapiens --
> >while leaving intact references to ``microevolution,'' or changes that
> >occur within a single species.
> >
> >The theory of evolution was developed by 19th-century British scientist
> >Charles Darwin. His discoveries were famously argued in the 1925 ``Scopes
> >Monkey Trial,'' in which the state of Tennessee put teacher John Thomas
> >Scopes on trial for knowingly infringing a law banning the teaching of
> >evolution.
> >
> >Defended by prominent trial attorney Clarence Darrow, Scopes was convicted
> >and fined the minimum $100 but the verdict was reversed on a technicality
> >by the state Supreme Court.
> >
> >Prior to Wednesday's vote, the presidents of Kansas' six public
> >universities wrote a letter saying the new standards ''will set Kansas back
> >a century and give hard-to-find science teachers no choice but to pursue
> >other career fields or assignments outside of Kansas.
> >
> >``The argument that teaching evolution will destroy a student's faith in
> >God is no more true today than it was during the Scopes trial in 1925,''
> >the letter said.
> >
> >Banning evolution from the classroom gave conservative forces a victory
> >after previous attempts to eliminate evolution in states including Alabama,
> >Arizona, Georgia and Nebraska.
> >
> >Religious groups have argued that evolution cannot be proven, and some feel
> >that evolution is not in accordance with Biblical teachings regarding the
> >origins of life.
> >
> >``It's deception,'' said Tom Willis, director of the Creation Science
> >Association for Mid-America, which helped write the new standards. ``You
> >can't go into the laboratory or the field and make the first fish. When you
> >tell students that science has determined (evolution to be true), you're
> >deceiving them.''
> >
> >A 27-member state science committee spent a year writing new standards that
> >were based on national education standards and included evolution. But this
> >spring, a school board member introduced a competing proposal to remove
> >evolution theories from classrooms. The board deadlocked over the matter in
> >May, and the issue has since prompted angry debate.
> >

James. W. Perry, CEO/Campus Dean
Professor, Department of Biological Sciences
University of Wisconsin - Fox Valley
1478 Midway Road, P.O. Box 8002
Menasha, Wisconsin 54952-9002
Office: 920.832.2610
FAX: 920.832.2674
jperry at uwc.edu

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