Tuesday, July 26, 2005


Kansas Science Revisision Vulnerable to Court Challenge

A couple of days ago, RSR wrote a post (What ID and the New Coke have in common) that suggested that the revisions to the Kansas science curriculum written and adopted by the science subcommittee of the board might be vulnerable to challenge if -- but more likely -- when they are adopted by the full board, as expected in October.

A number of readers have written to ask about our analysis.

First, it is not yet, apparently, widely known that Board President Steve Abrams decided not to move adoption of the recommendations from the ID minority on the science standards committee, but rather to write his own.

As we see it, there are at least three potential problems here.

First, some members of the board sub-committee are on record as having said they don't understand the science, and yet they have now rejected both the majority draft, written by professional scientists and educators, and the minority draft written by ID activists who were chosen because they have some connection -- however tenuous -- to science.

Second, they were hastily and poorly written.

Third, in any court challenge, the motivation of the board in adopting these changes will be examined carefully to see if it has a secular intent. Having rejected the recommendations of the professionals they appointed to the curriculum committee, the public statements of board members Abrams, Martin, and Morris will become fair game.

The courts will certainly be interested in the record that Steve Abrams has compiled from 1999 on. For example, here's what curriculum committee chair Steve Case wrote in an open letter to the board during the science hearings last May:
Dr. Abrams must think that we have forgotten Trial Draft 4A of the science standards that he introduced in 1999. At the time he told us that he was the author of this trial draft of the standards. It was only through a bit of detective work that we found that this was not true. The draft had been written by a young earth creationist group from Cleveland, Missouri.
Surely, the newsletter published by Connie Morris in the midst of the deliberations over the science standards will also come in for some scrutiny. If you've forgotten about her newsletter, published under the letterhead of the State Board of Education, here's a choice excerpt:

First, let me say that I am a Christian and subscribe to the literal depiction of the origin of life as detailed in Genesis. i know that many of you don't adhere to the same belief. In fact, many Christians find no difficulty in reconciling their faith with evolution -- so be it. But the quandary exists when poor science -- with anti-God contempt and arrogance -- must insist it has all the answers.

Then, there's this from Kathy Martin:
"Our nation is a Christian nation. We are based on Christian principles."

In rejecting the recommendations of both the proscience majority of the curriculum committee and the antiscience ID minority, the board subcommittee has taken full responsibility on its own shoulders for the changes.

Because they have been vocal and built a long record concerning the religious motivation for the changes they've made, they have made themselves extremely vulnerable to a legal challenge that asserts there is no secular intent behind their antiscience revisions.


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