The Daily Tar Heel

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Thursday March 30th

Evolution Revived in Kansas Schools

The board voted 7-3 to repeal the previous standards, which de-emphasized the role of evolution in the state's scientific standards for education.

Janet Waugh, board vice chairwoman, said the repeal was caused by the controversial nature of the original statutes and the departure of two board members after last fall's elections. The two, including former Chairwoman Linda Holloway, voted for de-emphasizing evolution in 1999. "We lost standing with that (repeal)," Waugh said.

But some were not pleased with the decision.

Mike Mosiman, executive director of Midland Ministries, a Christian youth ministry in northeast Kansas, said he is disappointed the board overturned its previous decision.

"It was the first board with the guts to say that evolution is just a theory," he said. "The kids now are in school and they are taught that (Biblical) creation is false."

Board member Steve Abrams, although unsupportive of creationism in science classes, said the teaching of evolution needs to be balanced with evidence that does not support the theory.

Abrams was one of the board members who voted in favor of the previous standards for statewide curriculum.

Waugh said standards are usually rewritten every four years. In 1999, the standards set by the official 27-person science committee were revised by board members who objected to the document.

Lisa Nathanson, a legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas and western Missouri, said the controversial document incited only one county to change its curriculum. "We heard from the extremes and everybody in between," she said. "The moderates have been in favor of not challenging the status quo because it's too expensive to have the government in court."

Nathanson also said the August 1999 decision was in direct violation of Supreme Court decisions that separated church and state. "The Supreme Court has made it very clear that there is a big difference between science and religion," she said. "Evolution is science and creationism is religion. Furthermore, evolution and creationism don't have to be mutually exclusive."

And Waugh shares views similar to that of Nathanson. "I believe that the original document was adopted due to fundamentalist religious beliefs on the board," she said. "Those beliefs can be taught in the school system, but it needs to be taught in a comparative religion class."

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