The Kansas Board of Education voted yesterday to delete evolution from the state’s science curriculum. This action not only is constitutionally questionable but will also hurt the students of Kansas.
The board’s decision does not prevent individual districts from choosing to teach evolution, but it does prohibit the state assessment tests from asking evolution-related questions. It also allows local school boards to outright ban the teaching of evolution in school and require the teaching of creationism if they wish.
The 6-4 vote was heavily influenced by creationists who believe the text of the Bible proves the Earth cannot be more than 10,000 years old. The more moderate creationists attribute the Earth’s complexity to an “intelligent designer,” rather than focusing solely on the text of the Bible.
Factions speaking against the exclusion of evolution included Kansas Gov. Bill Graves, a Republican, who threatened to make the board an appointed body rather than an elected body. The presidents of Kansas’ six public universities wrote a letter saying the new standards “will set Kansas back a century.”
The main problem with the school board’s decision is the lack of science behind creationism. The theory of evolution is backed up by an enormity of research and data. Creationism is backed up by faith. Science is based on hypotheses that can be disproved. Creationism starts out with the assumption of truth and rejects all contrary data.
The decision is also clearly based on religious beliefs. In 1982, an Arkansas federal judge overturned a similar decision and stated that creationism was not a valid science, had no secular educational purpose and served only to promote a certain religious view. Allowing schools to teach creationism and ignore evolution puts religion in our public schools. Creationism is based on Christianity. Teaching it in schools violates the separation of church and state, clear and simple.
This decision, which allows Kansas students to graduate from high school without learning about evolution, greatly detracts from their education. Evolution is one of the most important concepts taught in a thorough science education. Without this knowledge, Kansas students will be hurt at college and when taking standardized tests like the SAT.
Teaching creationism alongside evolution is one frequently used way of pleasing both sides. Students are taught the scientific support for evolution and that some people reject the theory of evolution in support of a faith-based explanation. This tactic, currently at use in many schools nationwide, is a reasonable way of including all positions.
Public school is a place to teach all students. Science education is based upon ideas that have been continually tested. Creationism is a theory that inherently excludes all non-Christian students and those who do not believe in a higher power. Kansas’ school board made a large mistake yesterday. They should reconsider and bring science back to the science classroom and leave religion and faith to be taught in church and at home.