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Science Organizations Deny Usage Of Copyright Materials to Kansas

By Jodi Wilgoren


Two leading science organizations have denied the Kansas board of education permission to use their copyrighted materials as part of the state’s proposed new science standards because of the standards’ critical approach to evolution.

The stinging rebuke from the two groups, the National Academy of Sciences and the National Science Teachers Association, comes less than two weeks before the state school board is expected to adopt the controversial new standards, which serve as a template for statewide tests and thus have great influence on what is taught.

Kansas is one of an unprecedented number of states and school districts where the teaching of evolution has come under assault this year. If adopted, the standards, which also received a lukewarm review from an outside consultant, would be among the most aggressive challenges in the nation to biology’s bedrock theory.

The copyright denial could delay adoption as the standards are rewritten but is unlikely to derail the board’s conservative majority in its mission to require that challenges to Darwin’s theories be taught in the state’s classrooms.

“Kansas students will not be well-prepared for the rigors of higher education or the demands of an increasingly complex and technologically-driven world if their science education is based on these standards,” Ralph J. Cicerone, president of the National Academy, and Michael J. Padilla, president of the teachers’ group, said in a joint written statement Thursday. “Instead, they will put the students of Kansas at a competitive disadvantage as they take their place in the world.”

In the statement, as well as in letters to the state board, the groups opposed the standards because they would single out evolution as a controversial theory and change the definition of science itself so that it is not restricted to natural phenomena.