Students want evolution on statewide tests

The University of Kansas Student Senate here assembled adopts the following statement as its position towards the recent decision of the Kansas Board of Education (KBOE) to remove what it called “macro-evolution” from statewide assessment tests of Kansas elementary and secondary students.
In the wake of the KBOE vote, it seems that everybody in the world commented on the state of education in Kansas. The story was always the same: the people of Kansas were hayseeds. The one voice that was not heard in the arguments between administrators, journalists, pundits, scientists, politicians, and ministers was that of the students of the state of Kansas.
We disagree wholeheartedly with the KBOE decision, and even though we realize that it will not heal all the injuries the KBOE has caused, we urge that evolution be returned to statewide assessment tests. We also urge that every teacher in the state be made to feel confident that he or she can teach evolution in science class without opposing pressure or coercion.
We believe that the KBOE was shortsighted in its decision, for, even though none of us can accurately predict the future, they should have taken account of probable media coverage of their act. To say, as members of the board have, that the national media has misreported their actions is cowardliness; there has been some inaccurate reporting to be sure, but the vast majority of journalists have done an extraordinary job in covering this story.
We believe that the KBOE justifications for removing evolution have been disingenuous. Neither of their two main justification can withstand even the simplest rational questioning. If they claim that they did what they did to increase local control of science education, then why did they write and pass statewide science standards in the first place? If they claim that they want investigations in Kansas science classrooms about the difficulties inherent in the theory of evolution, why do they not present what these presumed difficulties are? The KBOE and various other commentators have provided slogans (e.g. “the Cambrian Explosion” and the “holes in the fossil record”) but they have not, because they cannot, provided a sustained refutation or even discussion of the theoretical underpinnings of evolution. Because of their lack of rigor, they have revealed themselves for what they are: politicians attempting to proselytize a religious belief in the classrooms of Kansas. The national media have seen this and, for the most part, reported things exactly as they happened.
It is important to note that we take religion seriously. The KU Student Senate is comprised of peoples from all over the country and all over the world. We come from many faiths and many different levels of religious devotion. We do not eschew religion, we simply believe that it has no place in science class.
The teachings of science and the teachings of religion inhabit different areas of one’s life; they do not overlap and they are not in conflict. Science concerns itself with methodological testing to uncover the truths of the natural world, and religion concerns itself with the faith necessary to live a moral life, or, as the often quoted saw states: “science deals with the age of rocks and religion deals with the rock of ages.” This distinction has been made by many different people, including both Pope Pius XII and Pope John Paul II, and the leaders of many different Protestant denominations headquartered in the United States. Even Charles Darwin wrote that “I am inclined to look at everything as resulting from designed laws, with the details, whether good or bad, left to the working out of what we may call chance.”
We believe that in their haste and in their inability to see the distinction between the realms of science and religion, the KBOE has struck a blow against the education of the children of Kansas — our education and the education of our younger brothers and sisters. It is now more difficult to recruit talented out-of-state teachers into Kansas, and it will be more difficult for us to be accepted to graduate schools outside of Kansas. The arrogance that the KBOE has exhibited in defending its position ignores these effects that it is having on the very students it claims to represent.
We must teach evolution in Kansas, not because the rest of the country does but because it is the accepted and correct scientific theory. Despite its undeserved national reputation of being a place of sweltering heat and hayseeds, Kansas has a long history, dating from John Brown, of being a national political and cultural leader. The KBOE’s decision must be repealed so we can make our return to this place; the news will hopefully be greeted on the two coasts and throughout our wonderful and beautiful state as were the worlds of King Solomon: “As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country.”

This is a proposed resolution submitted by the University of Kansas Student Senate currently under debate regarding the state’s Board of Education evolution controversy.