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New Draft of Kansas Science Standards Praised For Encouraging Critical Analysis of Evolution

TOPEKA, KS – A new draft of science standards to be presented to the Kansas State Board of Education this week is drawing praise for recognizing that students need to study all the scientific evidence relating to chemical and biological evolution. At the same time, the new draft standards make clear that they do not cover the concept of intelligent design. 

“The new draft standards call for students to learn more about the scientific evidence regarding chemical and biological evolution, including scientific criticisms raised in peer-reviewed science journals,” said Dr. John West, Associate Director of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. “This is a common-sense approach that will benefit students, parents, and teachers. The proposed standards correctly treat evolution like a scientific theory that is open to further investigation, not a sacred cow.”

The new draft of the science standards was prepared by the Kansas Board of Education’s Science Hearings Committee after hearing testimony from nearly two dozen scientists and scholars last month about how evolution should be presented in the classroom. The Committee concluded that it had “heard credible scientific testimony that indeed there are significant debates about the evidence for key aspects of chemical and biological evolutionary theory.”

In its “Rationale of the State Board for Adopting these Science Curriculum Standards,” the Science Hearings Committee also stressed “that the Science Curriculum Standards do not include the theory of Intelligent Design. While the testimony presented at the science hearings included both advocates and critics of the theory of Intelligent Design, we do not include it in these curriculum standards. The Board does not take a position on this topic.”

“There now should be no doubt that the debate over science standards in Kansas is NOT about intelligent design,” said West. “Anyone who claims otherwise is simply offering up the proverbial red herring. The real debate in Kansas is whether to teach students the scientific evidence for and against Darwin’s theory, not whether to teach them alternative theories.”

West praised the Science Hearings Committee for making clear that it was basing its new draft of the science standards on science, not religion.

The Committee noted that it was “aware that the study and discussion of the origin and development of life may raise deep personal and philosophical questions for many people on all sides of the debate. But as interesting as these personal questions may be, the personal questions are not covered by these curriculum standards nor are they the basis for the Board’s actions in this area.”

Discovery Institute supports teaching students more about evolutionary theory, including introducing them to mainstream, peer-reviewed scientific debates over key aspects of modern evolutionary theory (known as neo-Darwinism). The Institute does not favor requiring students to learn about the scientific theory of intelligent design.

Discovery Institute

Discovery Institute promotes thoughtful analysis and effective action on local, regional, national and international issues. The Institute is home to an inter-disciplinary community of scholars and policy advocates dedicated to the reinvigoration of traditional Western principles and institutions and the worldview from which they issued.