KCFS Update 3/4/06

KCFS Update
3/4/06

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ABOVE THE FOLD
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Do Kansas Science Standards Mandate the Teaching of ID? I Say, “Yes.”

By KCFS President Jack Krebs
Posted on “The Panda’s Thumb” February 10, 2006

Do the Kansas Science standards say “teach ID?”

The Discovery Institute and the Kansas state BOE say “no”.

I say “yes”.

Casey Luskin [Ed: Second-year law student who is now the apologist for ID at the Discovery Institute] “challenges the Darwinists” – which I presume includes me, to back up our claim that the Kansas standards do say “teach ID”.

Well, here you go, Casey. Read on. . . .

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UPCOMING EVENT
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“Science, Education and the Public”

A lecture series presented at the Dole Institute of Politics in Lawrence, Kansas in April and May. All lectures are at 7:30 p.m.

Sponsored by numerous KU departments, the series’ speakers include Barbara Forrest (co-author of “The Wedge of Intelligent Design” and expert witness at the Dover, PA trial) and Lawrence Krauss, Physics Professor at Case Western University in Ohio and author of numerous books, including “The Physics of Star Trek.”

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KANSAS
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[Ed: The following story must have been filed before two more challengers declared their intentions to run against the BOE conservatives. See other stories below.]

Moderates Arise, Seek KBOE Seats

Johnson County Sun – March 2, 2006

New science standards that question the Darwinian theory of evolution, a controversial new education commissioner, charter schools, vouchers and sex education policies are among the contentious issues that have prompted nine candidates to file months in advance for five openings on the Kansas Board of Education. . . .

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McPherson Woman to Challenge Conservative BOE Member

Associated Press – February 23, 2006

The president of the McPherson school board will seek a seat on the State Board of Education held by a member of the conservative majority that controls it.

Donna Viola said if she unseats Kenneth Willard, of Hutchinson, a priority would be to remove Bob Corkins, the education commissioner who was picked in October by the board’s conservatives on a 6-4 vote. . . .

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Retired Indy Teacher to Run for State BOE

Parsons Sun – March 2, 2006

A retired Independence [KS] teacher has announced her candidacy for the 9th District State Board of Education seat.

Jana Shaver is running as a Republican. Primary elections are scheduled for Aug. 1 and the general election will be Nov. 7. Iris Van Meter, a Thayer Republican, holds the seat now.

Shaver says she wants to return the Kansas Board of Education’s focus to education. She thinks the BOE has become distracted with other issues in recent years, including evolution taught in science classes. . . .

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Hispanics Recognize Potential to Influence Elections

Hutchinson News – March 4, 2006

TOPEKA – Former Garden City Mayor Tim Cruz, a candidate for the state board of education, mingled in a crowd of several hundred gathered for Hispanic Day on the Hill as mariachi music drifted through the Statehouse Friday.

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Ed Commissioner Answers Wichita Students’ Questions

The Wichita Eagle – March 1, 2006

East High School student Tim Wilson had lots of questions Tuesday for state education commissioner Bob Corkins.

They were mostly about vouchers. . . .

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Council Begins Study of How to Serve At-Risk Students

Harris News Service – February 28, 2006

TOPEKA – The state’s achievement gap among high school students isn’t narrowing as it is for middle school and grade school students, an education official told a panel studying the issue Monday.

“While Kansas students have made tremendous gains over the past five years, lower scores for disadvantaged students at the high school level reflect either a decline in their scores or a rise in affluent students’ scores,” said Alexa Posny, the state education department’s deputy commissioner for learning services. . . .

Council member Bob Corkins, state education commissioner, suggested the council should look at better funding for the state’s charter schools as a potential answer to helping more at-risk students.

[Former Ed Commissioner Andy] Tompkins cautioned that charters or any other “alternative” programs can cost significantly more than regular high schools and don’t necessarily have an overall record of success. . . .

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KU Leaders Envision Research Megacomplex

480 acres bought decades ago get new life

LJ World – March 3, 2006

A good mantra for those atop Mount Oread: “Go west, young man.”

With the main campus already pinched for space, university leaders have been turning to west campus — where 300 of 480 acres remain undeveloped.

Kansas University hopes to turn an area in the southeast portion of west campus into a top-flight research park.

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SCHOOL FINANCE
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Plan Would Make Districts Chip In

Parts of Proposal Debated

Senators Propose $660M School Plan (AP)

Senate Tries School Finance

Kansas Conservatives Knock School Funding Proposals

EDITORIAL: School Plans Inspire Cautious Optimism

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NATIONAL
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Bush Cuts Carry Consequences for Science, Experts Say

USA Today – March 2, 2006

WASHINGTON — Spending cuts President Bush proposed for NASA science projects will cause far more harm than the administration has acknowledged, top scientists warned a congressional panel Thursday.

If it passes, the Bush budget will turn out the lights on a whole generation of young scientists and researchers, said Joseph Taylor Jr., a Princeton University physics professor.

“These budget cuts … will be disproportionately felt by the younger members of the (science) community — the assistant professors, post-doctoral trainees, and graduate students,” said Taylor, co-chairman of the National Academy of Sciences Decadal Survey for Astrophysics.

The Bush administration budget request provides $3.1 billion less for science through 2010 than was promised in last year’s spending request.. . .

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Intelligent Design May Get Its Due

News-Observer (NC)– March 1, 2003

Intelligent design isn’t dead yet despite a federal judge’s ruling prohibiting it from being taught in a Pennsylvania school district’s biology classes.

Some professors argued at a symposium last week in Chapel Hill that intelligent design should be taught in North Carolina’s public schools. Although they didn’t say they believed in intelligent design, which holds that life wasn’t created by chance, they insisted it should be given a hearing. . . .

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Dr. Eugenie Scott Defends Evolution Teaching in Public Schools

UNC Niner Online – Charlotte, North Carolina – February 28, 2006

Eugenie Scott [Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education] presented “Creationism, Evolution and Intelligent Design” Saturday night.. . .

Scott pointed out that theistic evolution is believed by 40 percent of scientists.

“Creationists always try to say that scientists are atheists,” she said.

“Evolution isn’t a belief. We don’t believe in evolution; we accept evolution. Science can’t say, God had nothing to do with it, nor can it say he had anything to do with it,” she said. . . .

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Science Education Changes Opposed

Panel urges S.C. Board of Education not to alter the way evolution is taught

The State (SC) – March 1, 2006

College-level educators who praised South Carolina’s science standards in 2005 are urging the state Board of Education to reject overtures that could give religion-based lessons equal status as evolution in high school biology classes.

“We hope South Carolina public education will not be pushed into defacing science standards to simply satisfy political pressure,” the educators say in a Feb. 25 letter. . . .

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ID is OK in OK. Or is it?

Associated Press – March 2, 2006

OKLAHOMA CITY – While other states are backing away from teaching alternatives to evolution, the Oklahoma House passed a bill Thursday encouraging schools to expose students to alternative views about the origin of life.

The measure, passed on a 77-10 vote, gives teachers the right to teach “the full range of scientific views on the biological or chemical origins of life.” The measure stops short of requiring the teaching of “intelligent design” alongside the theory of evolution in science classes. . . .

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AAAS Conference On the Web

In case you weren’t able to attend the AAAS conference in St. Louis, you can still view many of the presentations on the Web.

Participants included Dr. Eugenie Scott of NCSE, Prof. Ken Miller, and Rev. George Coyne, director of the Vatican Observatory. KCFS is listed as a collaborator, and our past Prez, Harry McDonald, attended.

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NV Provision Raises Evolution Questions

Associated Press – March 1, 2006

CARSON CITY, Nev. – A proposed constitutional amendment would require Nevada teachers to instruct students that there are many questions about evolution — a method viewed by critics as an opening to teach intelligent design.

Las Vegas masonry contractor Steve Brown filed his initiative petition with the secretary of state’s office, and must collect 83,184 signatures by June 20 to get the plan on the November ballot. To amend the Nevada Constitution, he’d have to win voter approval this year and again in the 2008 elections. . . .

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Broward Selects Biology Text with Watered-Down Passages on Evolution

South Florida Sun-Sentinel – February 24 2006

High school biology students in Broward County will use a textbook next year that watered-down passages about Charles Darwin and evolution theory. . . .

… [P]ublisher Holt, Rinehart and Winston did edit several sections at the request of the Discovery Institute, a Seattle think tank that has peddled intelligent design around the country for years. . . .

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OPINION/EDITORIAL
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Editorial Board: Criticize Evolution, It Can Take It; ID Can’t

University Daily Kansan – February 28, 2006

Three KU Medical Center professors have signed a petition that called for skepticism of the theory of evolution.

The signatures came from James Harbrecht, clinical assistant professor of cardiology; Gregory Ator, associate professor of head and neck surgery; and Jeanne Drisko, clinical assistant professor of alternative medicine. More than 500 scientists have signed the petition, which started on the Internet in 2001.

While the signatures may seem like a blow to supporters of evolution in the scientific community and another knock on Kansas’ already tarnished scientific reputation, it really is just healthy criticism. . . .

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Good! Candidates Lining Up
[Ed: No URL – Sorry.]

Salina Journal – February 27, 2006
Tom Bell, Editor

Motivation is strong for good candidates to challenge far-right school board members

Six radical members of the Kansas State Board of Education have accomplished one good thing during their terms of office: They motivated qualified people to run for office during the next election.

These six far-right wing members make up a majority of the 10-member board. They have used that majority to inflict their narrow beliefs on all Kansans by rejecting science standards from a panel of experts in science and education and replacing them with faith-based theories.

As if that were not bad enough, the board also hired Bob Corkins as education commissioner, whose only education-related experience was lobbying against public education.

In our area, radical board member Kathy Martin represents District 6, which includes areas of north-central and northeast Kansas, but she is not up for election in this cycle.

However, two other extremist board representatives in this area are up for re-election. Connie Morris represents District 5, which covers parts of north-central and most of western Kansas. Kenneth Willard represents District 7, which covers most of central Kansas.

Willard is not as radical as Morris, who has displayed a shocking lack of knowledge about education and the law. She also has made racist statements and turned in highly questionable vouchers for her trip to a Florida conference. After her expenses were examined she returned some of the money to the state.

Fortunately challengers have stepped up to face Willard and Morris in the Aug. 1 primary. The latest to join the race is Donna Viola, president of the McPherson School Board, who recently announced she will challenge Willard.

Her announcement is terrific news. She is another qualified candidate who, if elected, will help return common sense to the state board, something that has been sorely missed since extremists took control.

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Clueless in Topeka

Johnson County Sun – February 23, 2006

An update of the meanderings of the six-member ultraconservative majority of the state Board of Education is highlighted by a bulletin from Ohio. The state education board there recently abolished teaching options to evolution theory. A similar decision occurred earlier in Pennsylvania.

These developments illustrate that bad decisions, notably the plan by the Kansas board’s conservative majority to question evolution in K-12 science classes, can be reversed. In Ohio, it was a board action. In Pennsylvania it was a federal court decision followed by an election in which board members who imposed their religious teaching in public schools were taken out by voters. . . .

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Science Critic’s Rhetorical Flourishes Don’t Make Up for Weak Arguments

Manhattan Mercury – 2/27/06

To the Editor:

In a recent column, Richard Smith claimed that since science is silent on the existence of God, science must be an “atheistic worldview” and scientists are engaged in “practical atheism.” He finishes his column with the rhetorical question: “Don’t they teach logic anymore?” Let’s follow his logical thread to its conclusions, and see where it might lead. . . .

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In Embracing Science Over Faith, ID Set to Fail

The Divine Irony of ID

Science & Theology News – February 27, 2006

In the Los Angeles Times, science writer and former Episcopal priest Garret Keizer reflects on the methodology of intelligent design proponents. He notes that supporters of ID, by deciding to let science and not religion have the upper hand in evaluating concepts such as design in the universe and irreducible complexity, betray the very same “secularist assumptions” they rail against . . .

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Where Are the ID Science Articles?

American Chronicle – March 1, 2006

. . . Why is it so difficult to find factual scientific articles about ID? One immediate problem appears to be the lack of qualified scientists performing any research. . . .

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AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT…
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Dino Science!!!

The little animated dinos and fire-breathing dragon are kinda cute…

Courtesy of Answers in Genesis.

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USEFUL RESOURCES
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“Icons of Anti-Evolution”

A website devoted to debunking ID biggie Jonathan Wells’ book, “Icons of Evolution.” Sponsored by New Mexicans for Science and Reason. Peppered moths, Haeckel’s embryos, Darwin’s finches – the disinformation ID promoters and other creationists put out about all the old chestnuts comes in for a righteous drubbing here.

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

Thoughts From Kansas
http://jgrr.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

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