- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 8, 2005

From combined dispatches

The Kansas State Board of Education yesterday approved science standards for public schools that include statements questioning Darwinian concepts of evolution.

The Kansas board voted 6-4 to adopt the standards, which caution that some theories of the origin and development of life “are not based on direct observations … and often reflect … inferences from indirect or circumstantial evidence.”

The standards say high school students must understand major evolutionary concepts but that the basic theory that all life had a common origin has been challenged in recent years by fossil evidence and molecular biology.

“This is a great day for education. This is one of the best things that we can do,” said board Chairman Steve Abrams.

Critics of the proposed language charged that it was an unconstitutional attempt to inject creationism into public schools.

“It will be marketed by the religious right … as a huge victory for their side,” said Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education. “We can expect more efforts to get creationism in.”

In 1999, the Kansas board was criticized after adopting science standards that eliminated most references to evolution. Two years later, after voters replaced three members, the board reverted to evolution-friendly standards. Elections in 2002 and 2004 changed the board’s composition again, making it more conservative.

The Kansas decision was applauded by those who advocated the concept of intelligent design, which holds that the complexity of life — including the intricacies of DNA — is evidence that life did not develop randomly or accidentally.

“Under these standards, students will learn more about evolution, not less,” said Casey Luskin, a spokesman for the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, which supports intelligent design.

Stressing “tolerance and respect,” the new standards emphasize that “some scientific concepts and theories … may differ from the teachings of a student’s religious community or their cultural beliefs. … Science teachers should not ridicule, belittle or embarrass a student for expressing an alternative view or belief.”

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