KCFS Update – July 10, 2006

KCFS Update
July 10, 2006

Welcome to the KCFS Update, the weekly e-newsletter of Kansas Citizens For Science.

This week, and for weeks to come, we will be engaged in a battle of information versus disinformation about the Kansas public school science standards. The disinformation is coming from the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based right-wing organization that is home to “intelligent design.”

Discovery plans to pursue a Web campaign and buy radio and newspaper ads in the districts where Board of Education primaries will be held on August 1. (See voter information below.) They claim their campaign has nothing to do with the elections, but is a response to KCFS’ public education efforts and our letter to Kansas school superintendents. Readers can decide for themselves whether this campaign is “intelligently designed” to affect the outcome of the elections.

Below you’ll find a link to our flier containing facts about the “F”-graded standards adopted by the 6-4 creationist majority on the Kansas Board of Education. Please read it, then forward the link to those you know who share our dedication to world-class science standards for Kansas public school students.

Thank you for your support. And be sure to vote in the primaries August 1. Your vote does count.

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NOTE: If you wish to UNSUBSCRIBE, please DO NOT reply to this e-mail. Instead, send an e-mail to kcfs at kcfs.org (Change the “at” to a “@.”) with “unsubscribe” in the subject line. THANK YOU!

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ABOVE THE FOLD
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http://www.cjonline.com/stories/070806/kan_science.shtml

Group launches campaign for Kan. school science standards
JOHN HANNA, Associated Press – July 7, 2006

TOPEKA, Kan. – An anti-evolution group launched an Internet campaign Friday to build support for Kansas science standards in schools, less than a month before elections that could decide whether those standards remain.

Officials from the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture, based in Seattle, said they’re trying to counter criticism of the standards from many scientists and national science groups.

John West, a Center vice president, said in a national conference call with reporters that such criticism has resulted in a “wildly distorting” picture of the standards.

The standards, adopted last year by the State Board of Education’s conservative majority, don’t mention intelligent design or other alternatives to evolution. But they treat evolution as a flawed theory, defying mainstream scientific views. Critics contend parts of the standards are based on long-discredited arguments about evolution.

West said the Center won’t endorse candidates or otherwise become involved in races for five state board seats on the ballot. Instead, he said, its “Stand Up for Science” efforts, which involve a new Web site with a petition that can be signed and possibly radio ads, are designed to educate Kansans.

But Jack Krebs, president of Kansas Citizens for Science, which opposes the anti-evolution standards, said the timing of the campaign is no coincidence.

Of the five seats on the Aug. 1 primary ballot this year, four are held by conservative Republicans who supported the new standards. If two conservatives are defeated, it would shift the board’s majority to the moderates.

“The intelligent design movement as a whole knows that if they can retain the majority, they’ll have a victory,” Krebs said. “If they lose it, it will be another crushing defeat for intelligent design.”

The standards took effect in November and will be used to develop tests students take to measure how well schools are teaching, but decisions about what actually will be taught remain with 299 local school boards. Some educators fear pressure will increase to teach less about evolution or more about creationism or intelligent design, which says some features of the universe are so well-ordered and complex that they are best explained by an intelligent cause. . . .

Krebs said trying to expose students to supposed problems with evolution is part of a strategy designed to lead them to embrace intelligent design. . . .

Krebs said the previous standards didn’t keep teachers from touching upon criticism of evolution in their classrooms. But adding such statements to the standards gives them more credibility than they’ve earned in science, he said.

“They’re looking for a government handout rather than doing the work in the marketplace of ideas,” Krebs said of intelligent design advocates who backed the new standards.

ON THE NET

Center’s new site: http://www.standupforscience.com

Kansas Citizens for Science: http://www.kcfs.org/

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KCFS Flier – KCFS Facts about Standards

KCFS Flier – KCFS Facts about the Kansas BOE’s Science Standards
By Jack Krebs

This flier outlines some of the changes the BOE made, why they made them, the flaws with the BOE’s changes, and the alternative that is available (the writing committee’s Recommended Standards.) Please feel free to download this flier and distribute it as you wish.

Go here for an online version of the flier:
http://www.kcfs.org/kcfsnews

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KANSAS
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http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2006/jul/06/cultures_clash_democratic_primary/?state_regional

Cultures clash in Democratic primary
Challenger for Education Board minority seat supports majority

LJ World – July 6, 2006

Topeka – In 2002, Iris Van Meter ran below the political radar in the Republican Party primary to unseat an incumbent member of the Kansas State Board of Education in southeast Kansas.

She then became a key vote in the 6-4 majority on the state education board that has attacked evolution, changed the availability of sex education and hired a critic of public schools as education commissioner.

While much attention has been placed this year on trying to upset that majority in the upcoming Republican Party primary, a challenge in the Democratic Party primary could thwart those efforts.

Jesse Hall is running in the Aug. 1 Democratic Party primary against incumbent Janet Waugh for the state education board’s District 1 seat.

Waugh is a member of the four-vote minority on the board, while Hall’s political positions stand firmly with the six-member majority. . . .

Celtie Johnson of Overland Park, an evolution opponent, recently circulated a letter urging people to contribute to Hall and other candidates aligned against evolution in the five state education board races.

“If we can win all five seats, creating a 7-3 conservative majority in spite of all the media and academia against us, then the liberals and evolutionists would learn the undeniable message that they can no longer get away with cramming evolutionism down ours and our neighbors kids’
throats!” she wrote.

Michael Peterson, chairman of the Wyandotte County Democratic Party, said Hall was being used by the “radical right.”

“I assume he is being recruited by outside influences,” said Peterson, who is also a state legislator. “For some reason he has affiliated himself with the radical right.” . . .

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BAD MEMORY LANE
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http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2005/dec/08/kansas_ranks_last_science

Kansas ranks last in science
15 states receive failing grade in institute’s report

By John Hanna – Associated Press Writer – December 8, 2005

Topeka — Kansas has the nation’s worst science standards for public schools, a national education group says, condemning the state for rewriting its definition of science and treating evolution as a flawed theory.

The “F” grade from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute came after the State Board of Education approved the new standards last month. The Washington-based institute said Kansas’ treatment of evolution was “radically compromised.”

“The effect transcends evolution, however,” the institute said in a report released Wednesday. “It now makes a mockery of the very definition of science.” . . .

[Ed: Yes, these are the K-12 science standards adopted by the conservative majority on the Board of Education. They are scheduled to go into effect in the 2006-07 school year.]

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KANSAS BOE ELECTION INFORMATION
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**Important Dates to Remember**

7/12 – Advanced voting for primary begins
7/17 – Last day to register to vote in the primary
7/31 – Advanced voting ends
8/1 – Primary elections

**Endorsements**

Here are links to Board of Education candidate endorsements currently available. If you know of others, please let me know, and I will post them.

http://www.kfupepac.com/endorsements.asp
Kansas Families United for Public Education

http://mainpac.org/default.asp?click=2Nav&pageID=34&btn=KSBOE
MAINstream Coalition’s PAC

http://www.ks-ra.org
Kansas Republican Assembly

www.ksalliance.org/filed.htm
Kansas Alliance for Education

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OPINION/EDITORIAL
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http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/news/opinion/14996596.htm

The Star makes recommendations for the state Board of Education primary election
Candidates can put Kansas back on the right track

KC Star – July 9, 2006

Kansans deserve a better state Board of Education. The Aug. 1 primary election gives voters an opportunity to make much-needed changes in a board that has become seriously sidetracked by religious issues.

The board attracted national and even international ridicule by including criticism of Darwin’s theory of evolution in the science standards that direct school districts in their curriculum choices.

The majority on the state board also has made it more difficult for students to learn about sexually transmitted diseases and how to avoid pregnancy. And the board hired a state superintendent who has been openly hostile to better funding of public schools and friendly to the idea of using public tax dollars for private education.

Kansans have long made education and religious freedom high priorities.

But now many Kansans feel the board has gone far astray from these traditional values.
. . .

In recent years, the board majority has shifted between religious conservatives and moderates. In the 2002 election, there was a 5-5 split and little got done.

Kansans can correct the course again in this election.

All of Kansas is affected by the state board’s influence on the image of Kansas as a good place to live, raise kids and create businesses. The current board’s policies have the potential to harm the credibility of current graduates. In addition, the board’s actions make it more difficult for the state to attract professionals, especially in the sciences.

The Star is making recommendations in contested primary elections for the five districts on the ballot this August.

1st District, Democratic primary: Janet Waugh of Kansas City, Kan., is the only incumbent seeking re-election this year who does not vote with the religious right. A small-business owner, she is a past president of the Turner Board of Education and has been state board chairman. Her opponent, Jesse Hall, is backed by supporters of the board’s conservative majority.

3rd District, Republican primary: John W. Bacon of Olathe has been a disappointment. Harry E. McDonald of Olathe, a retired Blue Valley biology teacher, is the right choice for people who want to reverse the board’s direction. McDonald is past president of the Kansas Association of Biology Teachers. He is active in Kansas Citizens for Science. To prepare, he has talked with all the superintendents in school districts in the 3rd District, so he is well versed in what districts need from the state board. Also in the GOP primary is David A. Oliphant of Olathe.

5th District, Republican primary: Sally Cauble of Liberal in southwest Kansas is a former elementary teacher and a member of the Liberal Board of Education. She’s running against Connie Morris of St. Francis, who has led the criticism of evolution, calling it a “fairy tale.” Cauble understands that schools are important to the economic success of a community, and she’s got the background to represent her district well.

7th District, Republican primary: Donna Viola of McPherson is a small-business owner and president of the McPherson School Board. She favors decision-making at the local, not state, level. The incumbent is Ken Willard of Hutchinson, who votes with the board majority. Another candidate is M.T. Liggett, a Mullinville artist.

9th District, Republican primary: The incumbent, Iris Van Meter of Thayer, is not seeking re-election to this southeast Kansas seat. She’s been part of the problems. However, her son-in-law, Brad Patzer of Neodesha, is seeking election, and he unfortunately appears to share her views. A much better choice is Jana Shaver of Independence, a former teacher and administrator, who is on the Independence Community College Board of Trustees and has been president of the Kansas Association of Community College Trustees.

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http://www.kansas.com/mld/kansas/news/editorial/14996488.htm

Evolve
EDITORIAL: STATE BOE IS AT THE CROSSROADS
Wichita Eagle – July 9, 2006

It’s hard to know whether to laugh or cry about the doings of the Kansas State Board of Education. A faction of far-right conservatives has turned the state board into its own ideological hobbyhorse, drawing widespread condemnation from the academic community, not to mention international ridicule.

Enough. It’s time for voters to clean house in upcoming board races.

This year, five of the 10 board members are up for re-election — with a chance that four current conservative members could be replaced, once again tipping the balance of the board, as in 2000, back to a working, pragmatic majority.

The board’s ideological and ill-informed approach to evolution and science standards has been nothing short of a fiasco.

. . .

It’s encouraging that a strong field of well-qualified challengers is running, both in the Aug. 1 primary and the Nov. 7 general election.

The election promises to be a referendum on the conservatives’ other dubious moves, including the appointment of a woefully inexperienced and divisive new state education commissioner, Bob Corkins, as well as ham-handed board efforts to micromanage local districts on sex education and other issues. . . .

These will be tough races, because the Intelligent Design Network and religious right groups are pouring money and misinformation into these campaigns.

That’s also why Kansas voters need to show up and return some professionalism and pragmatism to state education policy.

For the editorial board, Randy Scholfield

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http://redstaterabble.blogspot.com/2006/07/discovery-institute-to-defend-science.html

Red State Rabble – July 07, 2006

Discovery Institute to “Defend Science” in Kansas

John West, the vice president for Public Policy and Legal Affairs at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture, and Robert Crowther, the Director of Communications — they all have fancy titles out there in Seattle — have announced they will hold an 11:00 am news conference today to launch “Stand Up For Science” and “Stand Up For Kansas Science Education” campaigns here.

Discovery is concerned, they say, about “a concerted effort to censor science in Kansas, to spread misinformation about the Kansas science standards, and ultimately to repeal the standards relating to evolution and replace them with dogmatic, Darwin-only standards.”

Discovery may seem an odd defender of science and science education. It’s been at the forefront of a political and cultural movement embraced by right-wing Christians to attack evolution, push intelligent design into the public school science curriculum, and to redefine science itself — in order, as they write in their “Wedge Strategy” — to replace it with a science “consonant with Christian and theistic convictions.”

In fact, Michael Behe a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute recently testified in court that the intelligent design movement’s proposed re-definition of science would transform astrology from a cheap parlor trick to one of the sciences right there alongside biology, physics, and chemistry. . . .

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EVENTS
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Subject: Midwest Research Institute Salute to Science Seminar Series
For more information, contact:
Linda Cook, 816-360-1943

Midwest Research Institute Salute to Science Seminar Series features:
Frank Douglas, MIT Biomedical Innovator,
Speaking on Future Trends in Life Sciences Research

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Frank L. Douglas, executive director of the Center for Biomedical Innovation at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will be the featured speaker in MRI’s Salute to Science Seminar in July. He will talk about the future of scientific research in the life sciences – new trends, challenges and ways that academia, industry and government can work together to make new discoveries a reality.

The presentation by Douglas, Ph.D., M.D., will be held at 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, July 11, at MRI’s Arthur Mag Conference Center, 4920 Cherry St., Kansas City, MO. The presentation is free and open to the public; however, reservations are requested by calling MRI Salute to Science coordinators at 816.360.5381 by Friday, July 7. [Ed: Call anyway if you wish to attend.]

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BOOKS
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http://mediamatters.org/items/200607070010

Ann Coulter’s “Flatulent Raccoon Theory”
Media Matters – July 7, 2006

Ann Coulter’s Godless: The Church of Liberalism Evolution Misinformation

In her book Godless: The Church of Liberalism (Crown Forum, June 2006), right-wing pundit Ann Coulter devotes two chapters to a bizarre attempt to disprove the theory of evolution. With a mix of misleading claims, pseudo-scientific arguments, distortions of evolutionary theory, and outright falsehoods, Coulter places herself not only outside the mainstream but truly toward the lunatic fringe. . . .

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BLOGS/SITES TO WATCH
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Red State Rabble
http://redstaterabble.blogspot.com

The Panda’s Thumb
http://www.pandasthumb.org

Talk Origins
http://www.talkorigins.org
The foremost source for information about evolution, creationism and related topics.

National Center for Science Education
http://www.ncseweb.org

Creationism’s Trojan Horse
http://www.creationismstrojanhorse.com

The Loom – A blog by Carl Zimmer
http://scienceblogs.com/loom

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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 (at) kcfs.org