John Timmer: Kansas Republicans, creationists oppose new science education standards: Noted

JohnTimmer: KansasRepublicans, creationistsoppose new scienceeducationstandards: Noted

JohnTimmer: KansasRepublicans, creationistsoppose new scienceeducationstandards:

The NGSS standards are a nationwide attempt to improve science education in the US, and they have been backed by organizations such as the National Research Council, National Science Teachers Association, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science…. The most surprising is Kansas, which has an awkward past when it comes to science education. The state booted evolution from its science standards at least twice in the last few decades…. The state Republican Party has called for their withdrawal, and now a lawsuit has been filed that claims the standards’ focus on natural causes will violate students’ religious freedom.

Earlier this month, the state’s Republicans passed a series of resolutions…

prohibit[ing] adoption of any standards that require the state to cede any measure of control over their drafting and revision.

These mention the NGSS standards by name, and the Lawrence Journal-World notes that:

the standards were opposed by some because they treat evolution of species as a fact and offer no discussion of religious-based theories such as creationism or intelligent design."

Meanwhile, adopting the standards has gotten the Kansas State Board of Education and the state’s Department of Education embroiled in a lawsuit… Citizens for Objective Public Education (COPE)…. At issue is science’s focus on identifying natural causes for past and present phenomena…. According to the suit, questions of origins—of the Universe, our planet, and life itself—are inherently religious…. It’s a pretty novel legal argument, given that courts have shown little inclination to find that science education is religiously problematic….

The suit is unlikely to get very far, but it may end up having unintended consequences. The Dover decision on intelligent design technically only applies to the district in which it was decided, yet the decision was written so comprehensively and definitively that no other school districts have officially endorsed intelligent design since. There’s always a chance this case could trigger an equally comprehensive decision that will banish some other creationist arguments from the legal sphere.

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