Although somewhat quiescent lately, the state of Kansas has never truly emerged from The Crazy Days in 2005 when the Kansas State Board of Education, led by Kathy Martin and Connie Morris, actually decided to re-define the meaning of science in Kansas so that it would include supernatural phenomena — thus allowing creationism to be taught in science class.
But things changed in the next school board election when the creationist majority lost control. Since then things have been tolerable, but that may only be until the November elections, which may change the balance of power on the Board. The situation has been simmering, and we’ve been expecting the pot to begin boiling again.
As we wrote back in July, in Kansas Creationism Is National News:
Kansas is considering new, evolution-friendly science standards proposed by the National Research Council, which are intended as voluntary guidelines to be adopted by all states for use in their public schools.
One faction on the Kansas State Board of Education wants to approve the standards now, before the November elections — which could swing the Board back to a creationist majority.
Five of the 10 Board seats are on the ballot this fall. Kathy Martin, the queen of the Kansas creationists, won’t be running for re-election, so it’s all up for grabs this year. Evolution is the big issue, because Kansas is on the cutting edge of science — Tenth Century science.
There hasn’t been much news out of Kansas since then, so what’s been happening in their ongoing evolution war? In the Topeka Capital-Journal we read Kansas school board members like drift of science standards. Unfortunately, it’s an Associated Press story, and they don’t like bloggers using their material. So we’ll do some summarizing, along with copying a phrase here and there, plus a few direct quotes provided by the AP.
They begin by saying that the new, evolution-friendly standards are gaining approval by the Kansas State Board of Education, “even from members who have worried the new guidelines will be too friendly toward evolution.” They remind us that Kansas has gone through five different revisions of their science standards since 1999, as creationist majorities ebbed and flowed.
Then we’re told that the creationists aren’t expected to win a majority in the coming elections, so things may remain evolution-friendly. Maybe so, but that remains to be seen.
To our great surprise, the AP story quotes Ken Willard, about whom we wrote “We’re Not Crackpots”. According to AP:
“I’m very supportive of most everything that I’ve seen,” he said.
That doesn’t sound like the same Ken Willard we’ve written about before. But that’s not all. Then AP quotes Kathy Martin, the queen of the Kansas creationists:
“I really like what these new science standards are doing,” she said. “I like the discovery-based, project-based learning.”
None of this makes any sense to us. This is Kansas, folks! What’s going on? It would be lovely if Kansas adopted rational science education guidelines, and if the November elections preserved the currently sane majority on the Board. But ya’ know — your Curmudgeon gets suspicious when things seem to be going too well — especially in a creationist state like Kansas. So we’ll keep watching.
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