Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, we have just regressed back in time.Kansas State Board Votes to Teach Intelligent Design in Schools
Nov. 8 (Bloomberg) -- The Kansas State Board of Education approved a proposal to teach intelligent design along with evolution as a scientific explanation of how life began.
The board voted 6 to 4 in favor of the guidelines, which say schools should teach that doubt exists about the validity of evolution, a theory that originated with British biologist Charles Darwin in the nineteenth century.
The debate about teaching intelligent design, which says life is too complex to have happened through evolution, has led to a federal lawsuit in Pennsylvania and the introduction of legislation in Michigan. President George W. Bush told a group of reporters visiting the White House on Aug. 1 that the theory should be taught alongside evolution, according to Knight Ridder.
Board Chairman Steve Abrams and members John Bacon, Kenneth Willard, Kathy Martin, Connie Morris and Iris Van Meter voted in favor of the guidelines, said Nicole Corcoran, a spokeswoman for Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius. The issue was raised by these members amid an effort to overhaul the Kansas school system that began in February 2001.
Janet Waugh, Sue Gamble, Bill Wagnon and Carol Rupe opposed it. The board members didn't immediately return e-mail requests seeking comment.
The move drew immediate criticism from Sebelius, a Democrat.
``This is just the latest in a series of troubling decisions by the Board of Education,'' Sebelius said in a statement e-mailed to reporters. ``If we're going to continue to bring high-tech jobs to Kansas and move our state forward, we need to strengthen science standards, not weaken them.''
Opponents of intelligent design, including the National Academy of Sciences and the National Association of Biology Teachers, say the theory is an offshoot of the Biblical story of creation in which God made the world in six days.
The National Academy of Sciences and the National Science Teachers Association said in a joint declaration on Oct. 27 that the Kansas board has specifically targeted evolution.
``The use of the word controversial to suggest there are flaws in evolution is confusing to students and the public and is entirely misleading,'' they said in a statement. ``While there may be disagreements among scientists about the exact processes, the theory of evolution has withstood the test of time and new evidence from many scientific disciplines only further support this robust scientific theory.''
U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings' office had no comment on the issue, said spokeswoman Susan Aspey. She said the board's decision was a local affair and the federal education department wouldn't get involved.
Wayne Carley, executive director of the 7,500-teacher National Association of Biology Teachers in Reston, Virginia, rejects the Kansas measure.
``They are undermining the education of their students,'' Carley said in a telephone interview. ``Intelligent design is a version of creationism and is clearly a religious doctrine and not a scientific principle, theory or even a hypothesis.''
The fight to inject intelligent design into science curriculum isn't going to stop in Kansas, said Eugenie Scott, director of the National Center for Science Education at a press conference today in Topeka. The conference was sponsored by the Campaign to Defend the Constitution, which describes itself as a group with 25,000 members that wants to combat the religious right, spokeswoman Jessica Smith said.
``This action is likely the playbook of creationism for the next several years,'' Scott said. ``We predict this fight taking place not only on the state level but on the local level as well.''