Could the evolution debate return to Kansas schools?

Could the evolution debate return to Kansas schools?

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Could evolution be back on the table in 2012?
  • Wikipedia
  • Could evolution be back on the table in 2012?
The prevailing wisdom is that the debate over evolution being taught in Kansas public schools refuses to evolve. The Associated Press suggests that as the Kansas State Board of Education reviews a draft of the Common Core curriculum - a multi-state effort to create a set of teaching guidelines - for science standards (the school board adopted the math and language-arts portions of the Common Core curriculum last October), there is a potential for creationism and evolution proponents to once again butt heads. With five of the 10 school-board members up for re-election, let's look a bit deeper into the AP's suggestion that science classrooms across Kansas could once again be making national news.

Overland Park's Sue Storm, a board member since 2008, and David Dennis, the board's chairman, have both recently announced that they won't seek re-election. Dennis and Storm supported the teaching of evolution in public schools. The two incumbents who have filed for re-election, Carolyn Wims-Campbell and Walt Chappell, are also in favor of evolution being taught.

On the current board, Kathy Martin (who has not yet filed for re-election), Kenneth Willard and John Bacon have all expressed their belief that theories other than evolution should be taught.

Janet Waugh of Kansas City, Kansas, has stated that creationism may be taught in other classes, but science classes should follow the mainstream science community. Jana Shaver was elected in 2006 as a moderate, pro-evolution Republican. Sally Cauble also voted for the current standards on the teaching of evolution that were enacted in 2007.

So for those scoring at home, there were seven members who supported evolution being taught and three opponents. Of those seven members, two are not running for re-election. That leaves five members in favor of evolution (if Campbell and Chappell are re-elected).

Willard and Bacon are not up for re-election until 2014, and Martin's decision to run will be known by Monday, the filing deadline for school-board candidates. So that leaves two, potentially three, supporters of creationism being given a platform in classrooms (again, assuming Martin runs for re-election and wins).

There are two open seats in districts that have previously elected candidates who ran on a pro-evolution platform. In order for those in favor of changing the evolution standards to gain a majority on the school board, the two open seats would need to lean in that direction, Martin would have to win and either Campbell or Chappell would have to lose their seat. Unless there is a renewed clamor among voters for creationism to be reinstated in the curriculum, which seems unlikely to happen.
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