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Lexington, Ky., School Board Rejects Creationism After Long Controversy

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Lexington, Ky.--A proposal to require that "scientific creationism" be taught alongside the theory of evolution was rejected last week by the metropolitan Lexington school board.

Vote Could Set Precedent

The 3-to-2 vote by the Fayette County Board of Education--which represents Kentucky's second-largest school district--followed more than a year of community debate on the controversial issue. According to some educators, the vote could set a precedent for the state's other 179 school districts in dealing with the question.

No school district in Kentucky now requires the teaching of scientific creationism. But State Superintendent of Public Instruction Raymond Barber allowed for its consideration6in a 1980 policy that permits local school districts to use state money to buy creationist materials.

Mr. Barber's policy followed a request by Citizens for Balanced Teaching on Origins, the same Lexington-based creationist group that pressed the issue locally.

Fayette County, with 32,000 students, was the first district in the state to deal with the issue of mandatory "equal time" for scientific creationism. The Lexington creationist group, headed by a biomedical engineer, took its proposal to the five-member board two months ago.

The school system's superintendent, Guy Potts, had initially rejected the proposal after being advised by 14 University of Kentucky scientists that the theory had no scientific validity.

And the board's attorney had advised that teaching the theory would violate the constitutional provision for separation of church and state.

Under a 1976 state law, teachers are allowed to include the Biblical account of creation in instruction if they wish, but many school officials expect a push in the 1982 General Assembly to require that scientific creationism be taught. One such proposal died in a legislative committee in 1980.

Many Oppose State Mandate

In a poll of the state's 794 biology teachers conducted by an Eastern Kentucky University professor, 76 percent of the respondents indicated that they opposed any state mandate for the teaching of creationism.

But 78 percent of the teachers responding said they approved of the state law giving teachers the authority to decide whether to include creationism in the curriculum, and a majority said they frequently encourage students to present views opposed to the theory of evolution.

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