Kansas Is Having a Lucid Moment

If you’ve been following The Controversy between evolution and creationism for a while, then you surely remember the Kansas Crazy Days of 2005 and the Kansas evolution hearings. Back then 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 also include supernatural phenomena — thus allowing creationism to be taught in science class.

But shortly after those infamous hearings the Kitzmiller trial began in Dover, and that’s when everything started going downhill for the creationists. The next Kansas elections brought in a new Board majority that reversed the supernatural science standards. Kansas continues to be a hotbed of creationism, but in the realm of official, state-mandated madness, Louisiana has superseded them as the center of the flat Earth, and Kansas has largely faded from our attention. But not entirely.

Last year we posted Kansas Creationism Is National News. At that time Kansas was considering the new, evolution-friendly science standards proposed by the National Research Council, intended to be voluntary guidelines to be adopted by all states for use in their public schools. Although Kansas was helping to draft the standards, their adoption was controversial. After all, the standards being drafted were pro-science, and that starts with “p” and that rhymes with “d” and that stands for devil.

Those standards have now been completed and you can see the final product here: The Next Generation Science Standards. We haven’t looked at them; all we know is that they’re pro-evolution and make no attempt to teach “both sides” of the alleged controversy. So now you’re all wondering — what will Kansas do — adopt the standards or reject them?

That brings us to today’s news story in the Lawrence Journal-World of Lawrence, Kansas. Their headline is State board approves new science standards.

Lordy, lordy — it’s a miracle! Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

The Kansas State Board of Education today approved a new set of science standards that supporters say will give students a deeper understanding of science through more hands-on experience.

A few short years ago we would not have believed this was possible — not in Kansas. The story continues:

“When I first read the NGSS [Next Generation Science Standards], I was very excited to see it was just a clear description of what I’ve been striving toward for the past 10 years,” said Julie Schwarting, a biology teacher at Free State High School in Lawrence and president of the Kansas Association of Biology Teachers. “It really included all of the things I think are great ways to teach science.”

If the biology teachers are happy, the creationists must be furious. Let’s read on:

But the science standards have also drawn criticism from religious conservatives because they treat the evolution of species as a scientific fact and offer no discussion of religious-based theories such as creationism or intelligent design.

Ah, now that’s the Kansas we remember. Another excerpt:

Rex Powell of Spring Hill, a member of Citizens for Objective Public Education, or COPE, said the new standards would teach, “that life is a random occurrence, not a creation.”

“These are the tenets of non-theistic religion like atheism and religious humanism,” Powell said, adding that they promote, “an atheistic world view in the minds of impressionable children. They are standards for religious indoctrination rather than objective science education that touches religious issues.

Yeah, Rex baby– tell ’em how it is! Here’s more:

State board member Ken Willard, a Hutchinson Republican, said he shared that view. In a lengthy prepared statement that he read to the board, Willard said “both evolution and human-caused climate change are presented in these standards dogmatically,” and that the standards amount to “little more than indoctrination in political correctness.”

We’ve written about Willard before — see Kansas Creationism: “We’re Not Crackpots”. He’s hard-core. Moving along:

Willard and board member John Bacon, who also voted against the standards, once were part of a majority on the board which pushed through science standards in 2005 that deleted references to macro-evolution.

Those were the days! Yes, we’ve got Louisiana to laugh at now, but somehow it’s not the same. Louisiana is dark and gloomy and swampy and all the trees drip with Spanish moss, so it’s not surprising that they’re all bonkers. But — this is difficult to express — when Kansas was officially insane, it just seemed so … appropriate! However, we are not creationists, or any other kind of magical mystical maniac, so we shall deal with the world as it is.

There are more details in the article, but you already know the big news — Kansas has adopted the new standards and that means they’re out of the creationism game — for now. But all that’s needed is another election, and the balance of power on the Kansas State Board of Education may change again. Then the Earth will once more be flat, God will be in heaven, and we won’t be no kin to no monkey.

Copyright © 2013. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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12 responses to “Kansas Is Having a Lucid Moment

  1. waldteufel

    It’s nice to see good news once in a while. Let’s hope that Kansas can maintain this bit of sanity.

  2. It’s good that evolution may be in the standards. But you know what sucks for me and people like me? I earned my PhD in paleontology at the University of Kansas. Ironically this institution has one of the best Ecology and Evolutionary Biology programs in the world – Google it if you doubt me. And yet this NEVER gets mentioned because of the crazies that dominate the news. It is just assumed that everything about Kansas is like this. Oh well.

  3. Having family roots in Kansas (my great grandfather Aaron Coberly homesteaded the family farm south of Topeka in 1857) and having taught biology in Louisiana for the past 35 years, its good to see something going in the right direction. Maybe before I die Louisiana will finally get it act together. NOT!

  4. “But the science standards have also drawn criticism from religious conservatives …”

    Ah, give me that old-time religion in the science classroom.

  5. To quote the story:

    …and offer no discussion of religious-based theories such as creationism or intelligent design.

    Do you think the DI will rise to the bait? I hope so – I look forward to reading Kling’s rant about the lack of journalistic integrity in referring to intelligent design as a “religious based theory.”

  6. Just came across this… good for a giggle: “Ray Comfort Claims Pineapple Disproves Big Bang Theory”


  7. So far, so good, but too many anti-science and -education legislators are just itching to make sure no $$ will be used to actually implement the new standards. They’ve promised to attack during their next session.

    But yes, it’s happy dance time!

  8. john zande says: “Ray Comfort Claims Pineapple Disproves Big Bang Theory”

    I can’t believe that. It’s gotta be a spoof.

  9. It is, but a bazzilion points to the writer for mocking Hambo in such a way. Can’t say he doesn’t deserve it 🙂

  10. Ceteris Paribus

    CSA says: “So far, so good, but too many anti-science and -education [Kansas] legislators are just itching to make sure no $$ will be used to actually implement the new standards. They’ve promised to attack during their next session.They’ve promised to attack during their next session.”

    Public education dollars were going to be cut no matter whether the science standards were adopted or not. The Kansas legislature and Brownback have planned ahead, and already borrowed $320 million to patch up the state capitol building. More than any other state has paid on renovating their pleasure domes capitols.

    With interest, Kansas taxpayers will be billed for upwards of $600 million to pay off the revenue bonds issued so the Kansas govt can operate in the style that befits their conservative dogma.

    Good thing Kansas has a part-time legislature that only meets about half the number of days as a public school. They might do some real damage if they spent as much time at their capitol desks as a school kid spends at a school desk.

  11. Cheryl Shepherd-Adams

    Ceteris Paribus it’s certainly disheartening! Yes, public education $$ are going to be cut again – aren’t we already back to 1996 levels? – unless you want to start up a church school innovative district then you’ll get even more $$$.

    You probably already know about this, but Curmy might not be aware that anti-NGSS legislation was written into the tax/budget bills very late in the session. Our (old creationist) friend Senator Steve Abrams has apparently vowed he’ll stop at nothing to purge NGSS from the schools.

    I don’t know who you are, but are you already engaged with one or more groups in Kansas to fight back against this scourge of religious fanaticism? If not I’d love to introduce you to some folks who could use the talents of a bright articulate person like yourself.

    (Of course I’ll feel pretty damned silly if we’ve already met.)

  12. Cheryl Shepherd-Adams says: “I’d love to introduce you to some folks who could use the talents of a bright articulate person like yourself [in Kansas to fight back against this scourge of religious fanaticism].”

    It should be mentioned that Cheryl is vice president of Kansas Citizens for Science.