The recently reconstituted Kansas state board of education voted Jan. 9 to revise its science standards when it meets next month, with a majority of members moving to reverse past policy and strengthen the teaching of evolution.
The board drew worldwide scrutiny—and scorn from scientists—in November of 2005, when a majority of its members voted to insert more criticism of evolution into the state’s standards. Kansas over the years has been the scene of fractious debate about evolution’s place in state science standards, with the document changing along with shifts between conservative and moderate majorities on the board.
The current standards, those adopted in 2005, describe aspects of evolutionary theory as “controversial”; refer to “a lack of natural explanations for the genetic code”; and change the overall definition of science, among other alterations. Scientists strongly objected to those changes, saying the language misled the public about evolution, the dominant and widely accepted theory of life’s development.
Elections last year produced a new, narrow board majority that scientists believe favors revising the current standards and presenting evolution accurately. In its 6-4 vote last week, the board agreed to review the standards at its meeting in February, state education department spokeswoman Cynthia Williams said.
A version of this article appeared in the January 17, 2007 edition of Education Week