Kansas decision will leave students with insufficient skills to enter an increasingly technological world

October 25, 1999

AAAS Condemns Kansas Decision and Offers Web Site on Evolution

Washington, DC (October 26, 1999) The recent ruling by the Kansas Board of Education will prevent students from gaining the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in a world that relies increasingly on science and technology, said the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in a resolution passed by its Board of Directors that condemns the decision. The Kansas ruling will also make it more difficult for Kansas to attract quality science teachers, AAAS warned.

"Events in Kansas regarding the teaching of fundamental concepts and evidence about evolution and cosmology should concern all people committed to education excellence in science," said Stephen Jay Gould, Alexander Agassiz professor of zoology at Harvard University and AAAS president. "These events encroach upon the professional judgment of dedicated teachers, and strongly compromise the education that informed and responsible citizens need to receive to participate fully in our increasingly technological world."

The new standards in Kansas do not forbid the teaching of evolution and cosmology, but the subjects will no longer be included in statewide tests for evaluating students. Scientists and educators fear that as a result the teaching of evolution will de diluted or eliminated completely in some schools.

"The American Association for the Advancement of Science deplores the recent decision by the Kansas State Board of Education to remove references to evolution and cosmology from its state education standards and assessments, thereby making central principles for the scientific understanding of the universe and its history optional subjects for science education," the AAAS resolution states. "This decision by the Board is a serious disservice to students and teachers in the State of Kansas."

The AAAS resolution warns that the Kansas boards decision will make it difficult for students to become informed and responsible citizens in an increasingly technological world. "Students need to study and judge for themselves the empirical evidence and concepts central to current scientific and understanding," the resolution says. "Without that knowledge, students will be at a disadvantage when it comes time to excel in college or compete in a work environment."

"We must work aggressively to ensure that teachers will be able to introduce their students to such topics as evolution and cosmology," said Mark S. Frankel, director of AAASs Scientific Freedom, Responsibility and Law Program. "These topics are crucial if students are to gain a scientific understanding of the universe."

The resolution also warns that the Kansas decision will make it more difficult for Kansas to recruit capable science teachers because it will discourage them from using the best-available knowledge of their profession related to the nature and history of the universe.

The resolution urges the people of Kansas to restore the topics of evolution and cosmology to the state curriculum. AAAS also calls on its affiliated societies to endorse the resolution and communicate their concerns to public officials in Kansas. The resolution opposes measures that could adversely affect the teaching of science, wherever they may occur.

Evolution is a central part of contemporary science. In 1859 Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species, his famous treatise on evolution. Since then, evolution has also been a source of ongoing religious commentary and sometimes controversy. Those defending creationism against evolution argue that a literal reading of Biblical texts should be the basis for the study of the origins of man and the universe.

In the 1920s, several states banned the teaching of evolution. The 1925 Scopes trial resulted in the conviction of a Tennessee high school teacher. Only in 1968 did the Supreme Court declare such laws unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds. In the late 1970s, Arkansas and Louisiana required that if evolution were taught, equal time must be given to Genesis literalism. The Supreme Court rejected those laws in 1987.

Recently, AAAS also released a joint statement with the National Research Council and the National Science Teachers Association that explained their decision to deny the Kansas State Board of Education permission to use text from their publications the Benchmarks for Science Literacy, the National Science Education Standards, and Pathways to the Science Standards.

"By deeming that only certain aspects of the theory of evolution should be taught, the State Board of Education adopted a position that is contrary to modern science and to the basic visions and goals that the Kansas Science Education Standards claim to espouse," the statement said.

AAAS also offers an evolution web site (www.aaas.org/spp/dser/evolution), with resources on the scientific content of evolutionary theory and its place in education; historical, philosophical, legal and religious perspectives on evolution; and commentary on current issues.
-end-
AAAS, the worlds largest federation of scientists, works to advance science for human well being through its projects, programs and publications. With more than 143,000 members and 282 affiliated societies, AAAS conducts many programs in the areas of science policy, science education and international scientific cooperation. AAAS publishes the prestigious peer-reviewed journal Science, as well as a number of electronic features on the World Wide Web.
-end-
AAAS Statement on the Kansas State Board of Education Decision on the Education of Students in the Science of Evolution and Cosmology

The American Association for the Advancement of Science deplores the recent decision by the Kansas State Board of Education to remove references to evolution and cosmology from its state education standards and assessments, thereby making central principles for the scientific understanding of the universe and its history optional subjects for science education. This decision by the Board is a serious disservice to students and teachers in the State of Kansas. To become informed and responsible citizens in our increasingly technological world, students need to study and judge for themselves the empirical evidence and concepts central to current scientific understanding. The actions of the State Board of Education may place Kansas students at a competitive disadvantage in their education and work environments. By discouraging teachers from using the best available professional knowledge about the nature and history of the universe, the Board's decision will make it more difficult for Kansas to recruit capable and inspiring science teachers.

Recognizing that the State Board of Education decision is a serious setback for public education in the State of Kansas, the AAAS adopts the following resolution: Adopted by the AAAS Board of Directors
October 15, 1999

American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related Evolution Articles from Brightsurf:

Seeing evolution happening before your eyes
Researchers from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg established an automated pipeline to create mutations in genomic enhancers that let them watch evolution unfold before their eyes.

A timeline on the evolution of reptiles
A statistical analysis of that vast database is helping scientists better understand the evolution of these cold-blooded vertebrates by contradicting a widely held theory that major transitions in evolution always happened in big, quick (geologically speaking) bursts, triggered by major environmental shifts.

Looking at evolution's genealogy from home
Evolution leaves its traces in particular in genomes. A team headed by Dr.

How boundaries become bridges in evolution
The mechanisms that make organisms locally fit and those responsible for change are distinct and occur sequentially in evolution.

Genome evolution goes digital
Dr. Alan Herbert from InsideOutBio describes ground-breaking research in a paper published online by Royal Society Open Science.

Paleontology: Experiments in evolution
A new find from Patagonia sheds light on the evolution of large predatory dinosaurs.

A window into evolution
The C4 cycle supercharges photosynthesis and evolved independently more than 62 times.

Is evolution predictable?
An international team of scientists working with Heliconius butterflies at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama was faced with a mystery: how do pairs of unrelated butterflies from Peru to Costa Rica evolve nearly the same wing-color patterns over and over again?

Predicting evolution
A new method of 're-barcoding' DNA allows scientists to track rapid evolution in yeast.

Insect evolution: Insect evolution
Scientists at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich have shown that the incidence of midge and fly larvae in amber is far higher than previously thought.

Read More: Evolution News and Evolution Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.