KCFS Update – June 30, 2006

KCFS Update – June 30, 2006

Welcome to the KCFS Update, the weekly e-newsletter of Kansas Citizens For Science. Thanks for reading our newsletter. With the Board of Education primaries coming up August 1, it’s vital that every Kansan be well informed on the issues. So if you’re not sure about the status of Kansas’ public school science standards, see the link to our fact sheet below.

And if you wish to UNSUBSCRIBE, please DO NOT reply to this e-mail. Instead, send an e-mail to kcfs@kcfs.org with “unsubscribe” in the subject line. THANK YOU!

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Kansas Board of Education science standards? Minority standards? Majority standards?

What are the facts about the science standards voted in by the six-member creationist majority on the Kansas Board of Education? What changes did the “Minority Committee,” an eight-member contingent of the science standards writing committee led by IDnet’s William Harris, make to the standards, and what do they mean? Why did the KBOE-adopted standards earn an “F” from the conservative Fordham Foundation? To find out, see “KCFS Facts About Standards” at http://www.kcfs.org/kcfsnews/?p=120 .

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3rd District BOE candidates take opposite tacks on Kansas school science standards
KC Star – June 30, 2006

[NOTE: The 3rd District State Board of Education Republican candidate forum will be shown at 8 p.m. July 9 and 7 p.m. July 13 on Time Warner Channel 17 and Comcast Channel 22, and at varying times after that through July 31.]

It was easy to see this week where two 3rd District Republican candidates for the Kansas Board of Education stand on state science standards.

John Bacon, the incumbent, was part of the six-vote board majority approving standards that changed the definition of science to allow for non-natural explanations and cast significant doubt on the theory made famous by Charles Darwin. . . .

He said the standards actually allow more instruction on evolution and suggested that they “untie” teachers’ hands.

But Harry McDonald III, a retired Blue Valley science teacher, said what Bacon sees as more science is not science.

He pointed to a case in Dover, Pa., where a judge threw out a school district policy of presenting intelligent design as an alternative to evolution.

“(The judge said) promoting intelligent design or the disingenuous criticisms of evolution, which is what our state board has done, is unconstitutional and an insertion of religion,” McDonald said. . . .

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Awbrey’s exit

State Department of Education spokesman David Awbrey left his job this week and headed back to Springfield, Mo., where he will teach middle school. . . .

“I’m going back to middle school to try and teach the next generation how to behave civilly,” Awbrey said. “The board, unfortunately, has become a big symbol of the culture wars in this country.”

[Ed: Awbrey’s performance at the KC Press Association event in May caused some blowback which precipitated his departure after only a few months on the job. For a report, see
http://www.kcfs.org/kcfsnews/?p=92 .]

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Parents target top court for school funds
Johnson County Sun – June 23, 2006

Johnson County parents and students – fed up with being outsiders while state lawmakers and judges juggle local school funds – stand ready to ask the U.S. Supreme Court’s help.

“We want to stand up and say, ‘This isn’t right,'” parent spokesman Brian Short, Prairie Village, said Tuesday. “The welfare of our children and their education is important to all of us.” . . .

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Parents sue for school funds in federal court
Johnson County Sun – June 23, 2006

Representing parents and children from the Shawnee Mission and Blue Valley school districts, attorney Tristan L. Duncan filed a motion Wednesday to intervene in a dormant federal case involving public school funding in Kansas. . . .

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Public education at crossroad, local board advocate says
DeSoto Explorer – June 29, 2006

Americans need to adequately fund school improvements or drop demands schools continue to do more with the same resources, an official with the Kansas State School Board Association said Monday at a presentation at De Soto High School.

Mark Tallman, director of advocacy for the Kansas State School Board Association, gave about 16 candidates for the Kansas House and Kansas State School Board a primer in state education funding from the point of view of local school boards.

In an hour-long presentation titled “What Every Candidate Should Know About Public Education,” Tallman made the case for local control and additional funding to reach the at-risk students as directed by recent state and federal mandates. . . .

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Evolution’s Lonely Battle in a Georgia Classroom
NY Times – June 28, 2006

OCCASIONALLY, an educational battle will dominate national headlines. More commonly, the battling goes on locally, behind closed doors, handled so discreetly that even a teacher working a few classrooms away might not know. This was the case for Pat New, 62, a respected, veteran middle school science teacher, who, a year ago, quietly stood up for her right to teach evolution in this rural northern Georgia community, and prevailed. . . .

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Respite in Oklahoma
NCSE – June 29, 2006

No fewer than four antievolution bills were introduced in the Oklahoma legislature during its 2006 session: HB 2107 (encouraging the presentation of “the full range of scientific views” with regard to “biological or chemical origins of life”), HB 2526 (authorizing school districts to teach “intelligent design”), SB 1959 (encouraging the presentation of “the full range of scientific views”), and HCR 1043 (encouraging the state board of education and local school boards to ensure that students are able to “critically evaluate scientific theories including, but not limited to, the theory of evolution” with regard to “biological or chemical origins of life”). Of the four bills, HB 2107 was the only one to reach a floor vote: it was passed by the House by a vote of 77-10 on March 2, 2006. With the adjournment sine die of the legislature on May 26, 2006, all four are presumably dead. Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education and its allies were instrumental in organizing resistance to these bills.

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Judge Jones: Ordeal ‘surreal’
The judge who presided over the controversial Dover intelligent design case appeared on WITF-TV’s ‘Smart Talk.’

York Daily Record/Sunday News – June 23, 2006

… The following are some of the things U.S. District Judge John Jones had to say on various topics during his appearance on “Smart Talk” Thursday night.

· On accusations that the Dover decision made him an “activist judge”: “People term ‘activist judges’ judges they don’t agree with.”

· On his written decision for the Dover case, in which he accused the defendants of lying on the stand: “I called it the way I saw it. It was not my purpose to be an avenging angel.”

· On Ann Coulter, who criticizes him in her new book: “We have to suffer these arrows because people will disagree with our opinions … She foments a kind of civic stupidity in my opinion.”

· On civics education: “We have a culture that is not plugged into current events.”

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“Intelligent design” legislation in New York dies
NCSE – June 26, 2006

When the New York State Assembly’s legislative session ended on June 23, 2006, Assembly Bill 8036 died in committee. If enacted, the bill would have required that “all pupils in grades kindergarten through twelve in all public schools in the state … receive instruction in all aspects of the controversy surrounding evolution and the origins of man.” A later provision specified that such instruction would include information about “intelligent design and information effectively challenging the theory of evolution.” . . .

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Scientists rally to attack creationist schooling
The Guardian – June 22, 2006

The world’s leading scientists yesterday urged schools to stop denying the facts of evolution amid controversy over the teaching of creationism.

The national science academies of 67 countries – including the UK’s Royal Society – issued a joint statement warning that scientific evidence about the origins of life was being “concealed, denied, or confused”. It urged parents and teachers to provide children with the facts about the origins and evolution of life on Earth. . . .

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Scientists OK Gore’s movie for accuracy

AP – June 27, 2006

WASHINGTON – The nation’s top climate scientists are giving “An Inconvenient Truth,” Al Gore’s documentary on global warming, five stars for accuracy.

The former vice president’s movie — replete with the prospect of a flooded New York City, an inundated Florida, more and nastier hurricanes, worsening droughts, retreating glaciers and disappearing ice sheets — mostly got the science right, said all 19 climate scientists who had seen the movie or read the book and answered questions from The Associated Press. . . .

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Earth hottest it’s been in 2,000 years

Associated Press June 24, 2006

WASHINGTON – The Earth is running a slight fever from greenhouse gases, after enjoying relatively stable temperatures for 2,000 years. The National Academy of Sciences, after reconstructing global average surface temperatures for the past two millennia, said Thursday the data are “additional supporting evidence … that human activities are responsible for much of the recent warming.” . . .

Between 1 A.D. and 1850, volcanic eruptions and solar fluctuations had the biggest effects on climate. But those temperature changes “were much less pronounced than the warming due to greenhouse gas” levels by pollution since the mid-19th century, the panel said. . . .

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[Ed: This should make you feel good about living in Kansas and not South Carolina…]

… [South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford] said, “The idea of there being a, you know, a little mud hole and two mosquitoes get together and the next thing you know you have a human being is completely at odds with, you know, one of the laws of thermodynamics.”

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The Loom – A blog by Carl Zimmer

Red State Rabble

The Panda’s Thumb

Talk Origins
The foremost source for information about evolution, creationism and related topics.

National Center for Science Education

Creationism’s Trojan Horse

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Kansas Citizens for Science is a not-for-profit educational organization that promotes a better understanding of what science is and does, by:

* Advocating for science education
* Educating the public about the nature and value of science
* Serving as an information resource

If you are a supporter of science education, please join KCFS now. Go to http://www.kcfs.org/join for details.

www.kcfs.org • Kansas Citizens For Science • kcfs@kcfs.org

“Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education.
The human mind is our fundamental resource.”

-John F. Kennedy