Will Kansas Science Standard Update Reignite Creation, Evolution Debate?

A Kansan activist is uncertain whether the most recent State Board of Education elections will reignite the debate over including creation in public school science classes.

Come November, half of the ten seats on the Board of Education will be subject to elections. It is expected that the Board will review the science standards of the state next year, after the election.

Robert Noland, executive director for the Kansas Family Policy Council, which supports including alternative ideas to the theory of evolution in science classes, told The Christian Post that he had not found any major candidates who are running primarily on this issue.

"I haven't found any serious candidates who are running on this as the sole reason for why they are running," said Noland.

"I know there may be a couple who think it should be looked at, given the fact that the Board is looking at the standards right now; it's just hard to tell what may or may not happen."

For the past several years, Kansas has been the epicenter of much controversy over how evolution and creation are taught or referenced in the classroom. In August 1999, the board voted 6 to 4 in favor of science standards that eliminated most references to the theory of evolution. In February 2001, this vote was overturned in a 7 to 3 vote taken by a largely new group of board members.

In November 2005, science standards more critical of evolution theory were supported by the board, which included giving time to Intelligent Design, a modern counter to evolution. By 2007, however, once again the anti-evolution standards were repealed as a new set of Board members voted on the matter.

Noland's organization, the Kansas Family Policy Council, was founded in 2008, which was after the last debate was held over the issue of creation and evolution in the science curriculum.

"We would look at the issue and explain it this way: the theory of evolution is just that, it's a theory and because it's just a theory there's no definitive proof that it is the only idea out there," said Noland.

"There are other folks who believe there are different ideas that should be considered. We don't believe that taking any one issue off the table is the correct route."

Noland told CP that should the origins debate be brought up when the Board looks to update science standards, his organization would support the "holistic" approach.

"We see with the inclusion of evolution and the way the education system seems to work is any other views are instantly shut out of the process," said Noland.

"We share an interest in the debate … we would advocate examining the policy and how other things might be considered."

The primaries for the Kansas State Board of Education will take place on August 7. One primary candidate, Jack Wu of Topeka, has gained headlines not only for his support of removing the theory of evolution from public schools but also for his ties to the controversial anti-gay group Westboro Baptist Church.

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