Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Kansas and Ohio Look back

Someone asked me about Ralph Seelke, someone I mentioned in a recent post. He was one of the people involved in that wonderful, and completely ridiculous, adoption of new science standards in Kansas. You know the one, it was in all the news. If you missed it, here are the highlights courtesy of Wikipedia.

  • The Kansas Board of Education voted 6-4 August 9, 2005 to include greater criticism of evolution in its school science standards, but it decided to send the standards to an outside academic for review before taking a final vote. The standards received final approval on November 8, 2005. The new standards were approved by 6 to 4, reflecting the makeup of religious conservatives on the board [I disagree with this for a simple reason, this one scientific theory is singled out for special criticism. Proponents claim this makes better science, but the Dover trial also found the reality is this weakens any discussion of the topic in students minds]
  • On August 1, 2006, 4 of the 6 conservative Republicans who approved the Critical Analysis of Evolution classroom standards lost their seats in a primary election. [I think the Kansas school board evolved, much like the Dover school board did just before the results of the trial were announced]
  • On February 13, 2007, the Board voted 6 to 4 to reject the amended science standards enacted in 2005. The definition of science was once again returned to "the search for natural explanations for what is observed in the universe." [Damn, Astrology returns to the realm of pseudo-science, again]
This was yet another defeat for the organizations, like my favorite target the Discovery Institute, in their quest to control what gets taught in science class. Kansas corrected a mistake and learned a lesson I hope other states will remember when letting their personal beliefs get in the way of doing their job!

Ohio went through something similar, voted to critically analyze Evolution and backed out of it later. Didn't Intelligent Design proponents submit 40 references for Intelligent Design to the Ohio State school board when Ohio was debating a change to the school standards. After the vote it was discovered that more than 90% of the references mention Intelligent Design only to call it in question and the other 10% don't discuss the subject at all. And we all know the Ohio standards were returned to their pre-ID form and the fight continues as new and different changes are being proposed that do the same thing -- call into question evolution and encourage the teaching of their pet idea.

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