Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Evolution suffers Kansas setback

Evolution suffers Kansas setback
The US state of Kansas has approved science standards for public schools that cast doubt on evolution.

The Board of Education's vote, expected for months, approved the new language criticising evolution by 6-4.

Proponents of the change argue they are trying to expose students to legitimate scientific questions about evolution.

Critics say it is an attempt to inject creationism into schools, in violation of the constitutional separation between church and state.

The decision is part of an ongoing national debate over the teaching of evolution and intelligent design.

The theory of intelligent design holds that the universe is so complex that it must have been created by a higher power.

Definition of science

Tuesday's vote was the third time in six years that the Kansas board has rewritten standards with evolution as the central issue.

Current state standards treat evolution as well-established, a view held by national science groups.

The new standards include several specific challenges, including statements that there is a lack of evidence or natural explanation for the genetic code, and charges that fossil records are inconsistent with evolutionary theory.

It also states that says certain evolutionary explanations "are not based on direct observations... and often reflect... inferences from indirect or circumstantial evidence".

"This is a great day for education," board chairman Steve Abrams told the Reuters news agency.

Decisions about what is taught in Kansas classrooms will remain with 300 local school boards, but the new standards will be used to develop student tests measuring how well schools teach science.

Educators fear pressure will increase in some communities to teach less about evolution or more about creationism or intelligent design.

A federal judge in Pennsylvania is expected to rule soon in a lawsuit against a school district policy that requires science teachers to say that evolution is unproven.

Story from BBC NEWS: