The Discovery Institute, the Intelligent Design network (IDnet) and now the Kansas state Board of Education (KBOE) have all recently published material that claims that the Board’s science standards do not include Intelligent Design.

They are wrong about this: the KBOE standards DO include Intelligent Design, and the KBOE standards DO say that students should learn about Intelligent Design. I provide thorough support for this statement here at KCFS News: The KBOE Standards DO include Intelligent Design. But first I want to describe what the KBOE did this past Wednesday (July 11, 2006) at a Board meeting to join the Discovery Institute and the IDnet in their campaign to deny the Intelligent Design content in the state standards.

The KBOE pamphlet “Summary of Changes”

At the Board meeting, Board president surprised the Board with a hot-off-the-press glossy pamphlet entitled “Kansas Science Standards Summary of Changes.” As he handed them out, he said, “As you will see most of the discussion is quotes from the science standards themselves. There is not a lot of editorial comment,” and he went on to say that if the Board approved, the Department of Education (KSDE) would publish as many as were requested.

But there is significant editorial comment. On the first page, the pamphlet misleading breaks the Board’s Rationale statement for adopting the standards into two parts. (Click here to see the Rationale page compared to the actual Rationale statement from the standards, and here to download a pdf of the whole pamphlet.) The pamphlet

  • entitles the second part “2. Do the standards include Intelligent Design?,”
  • adds the subtitle “The following statements are found in the science standards,” misleadingly making it look like the following statements have a different status when in fact they are just part of the Rationale statement, and then
  • bolds the statement “We [the Kansas Board of Education] also emphasize that the Science Curriculum Standards do not include Intelligent Design.”

But the Rationale statement taken as a whole does say that students should learn about Intelligent Design and that information about Intelligent Design should be in the standards. The Board, by highlighting this one sentence and separating it from the rest of the Rationale statement disengenuousuly misleads the public about the standards.

Just saying something doesn’t make it true: the assertion that the standards don’t include Intelligent Design is flatly contradicted by the facts.

Kansas Citizens for Science objects to the KBOE pamphlet

Kansas Citizens for science strongly objects to the KBOE’s expenditure of time and money to print this pamphlet. Considering the timing, the content, and particularly the editorializing about Intelligent Design, this pamphlet inappropriately aligns the KBOE with the Discovery Institute and IDnet’s disinformation campaign about the intent and effect of the science standards.

The pamphlet also completely ignores the work of the Board’s own duly-appointed standards writing committee. The pamphlet omits the last sentence from the Rationale statement, which says “Finally, we would like to thank the Science Standards Committee for their commitment and dedication in their work toward the standards.” In fact, throughout the pamphlet there is no indication that the changes mentioned in the pamphlet are changes made to the committee’s draft and not changes to the 2001 standards.

Writing committee chairperson Steve Case, when informed about the pamphlet, said,

The new board information contains significant misstatements about the material in the Kansas Science Education Standards. This is clearly an effort to mislead the public, yet again. Last May, the State Board of Education Chairman Dr. Steve Abrams claimed that a primary purpose of the three days of “Scientific Hearings” was for “public education” about the Kansas Science Education Standards. The Board spent $30,000 of taxpayer money on these hearings in an outrageous display of pseudoscience and misinformation. The public has seen through the phony information of the hearings so the State Board of Education is producing more marketing material at taxpayer expense. This is wrong.

So there are two issues here. The first is that indeed Intelligent Design is in the standards, as I explain here. Secondly, it is inappropriate for the state Board to get involved in editorializing about this issue, spending more money to produce pamphlets that will undoubtedly by used by the Discovery Institute and IDnet: as Connie Morris said at the Board meeting, “When it comes from the Department of Education it validates the truthfulness of it.” (See addendum below for more about the discussion at the Board meeting about the pamphlet.)

Contact Information

For more information about the pamphlet and KCFS’s objections to it, contact Jack Krebs, president of KCFS, at either jkrebs@sunflower.com, 785-840-5113, or Steve Case, chairperson of the writing committee at stcase@ku.edu, 913-488-8787

Addendum: Discussion about the pamphlet at the Board meeting

The ensuing conversation at the Board meeting cast further light on this situation. Board member Sue Gamble immediately objected: “Mr. Chairman, I rather strenuously object to having this just dumped on us without having the opportunity of reviewing it.” However, other Board members supported the document. Connie Morris said, “I appreciate having something from the department that is not editorialized, but is strictly what’s in the standards that we can hand to people and is a summary that they can read quickly…. When it comes from the Department of Education it validates the truthfulness of it.”

Board member Janet Waugh wanted to know who wrote the pamphlet. KSDE science consultant George Griffith said, “The information I put in here – I would only put in anything that came directly from the standards. … I didn’t do the actual design, but I’m the one responsible for putting in the content.” Commissioner Corkins added, “George collaborated with me throughout his drafting of this, and I approved of it.” And last, Board member Ken Willard said, “This appears to be just quotes from the standards – reflections of the actual changes that were made.” Williard moved to adopt the pamphlet, Iris Van Meter seconded, and the pamphlet was approved on a 6-2 vote, with Gamble and Waugh voting no, Carol Rupe abstaining because she was participating by speakerphone, and Bill Wagnon was absent.