Kansas Board Decision

December 28, 1999

Last August the Kansas State Board of Education made a decision that brought a national reaction. To understand the decision, you have to go back to 1995 when the National Academy of Sciences issued a set of national science education standards which called for "dramatic changes" in the way science is taught.

The Kansas board declined to adopt the academy's standards on speculative aspects of Darwinian evolution. This seemingly small act has generated an enormous response. Just a month ago, I was in Topeka, Kansas, and I can tell you that many of the citizens in the state are still in shock over the criticism they have received.

Perhaps the best example I can give comes from John Rennie, editor of Scientific American, who urged college admissions officers to "Make it clear that in light of the newly lowered education standards in Kansas, the qualifications of any students applying from that state in the future will have to be considered very carefully. Send a clear message to the parents in Kansas that this bad decision carries consequences for their children.

"If kids in Kansas aren't being taught properly about science, they won't be able to keep up with the children taught competently elsewhere. It's called survival of the fittest. Maybe the Board of Education needs to learn about natural selection firsthand."

This threat (along with many others) shows how quickly and harshly science leaders have dealt with what could at best be considered a minimal act of defiance. The board accepted all the science standards except the speculative one. But that is not enough. The education of Kansas students must now be considered suspect simply because one part of the science standards may or may not be taught in the classroom.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.