NEWS RELEASE
10/26/08 – For Immediate Release

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Harry McDonald • 913-897-9630 or 816-863-7580
E-mail: biologycctrack@hotmail.com

 

Kansas State Board of Education Candidates Answer Questions on Science

Ten of the 11 statewide candidates respond to KCFS questionnaire

Over the past 10 years, science education issues have been points of contention among members of the Kansas State Board of Education. These issues have included the adoption of public school science standards, the Board members’ openness to recommendations of the science community in making policy, and sex education.

In the upcoming Board of Education election, all but one candidate will be new to the Board.  Kathy Martin, of Clay Center, is seeking a second term.

Since most candidates’ stands on science education issues will be unfamiliar to voters, Kansas Citizens For Science has prepared and submitted questionnaires dealing with these issues to all 11 candidates. Nine candidates have provided responses.

Questionnaires received
District 2 – Sue Storm, Steve Roberts, Mary Ca Ralstin
District 4 – Carolyn Campbell (Robert Meissner did not respond)
District 6 – Christopher Renner, Kathy Martin
District 8 – Walt Chappell, Dennis Hedke
District 10 – David Dennis, Paul Casanova

To access the full documents, and any questionnaires received later, go to KCFS News at http://www.kcfs.org/kcfsnews .

KCFS 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

See below for the individual responses.

Kansas Citizens for Science
State Board of Education Candidate Questionnaire

Mary Ca Ralstin – District 2

1.    As a State Board of Education member, which of the following organizations would you trust to inform your decision-making in regards to science?  Check all that apply.

a.    American Association for the Advancement of Science    __X__
b.    The Intelligent Design Network    ____
c.    The National Academies of Science    __X__
d.    The Discovery Institute    ____
e.    The American Institute of Biological Sciences    _X___
f.    Answers in Genesis    ____
g.    The National Science Teachers Association    _X___
h.    The Institute for Creation Research    ____

Other organizations you trust in the area of science: (Please name) Kansas Citizens for Science

2.    Would you, if elected, propose revising the science standards before the next regularly scheduled revision, or support such a revision if another board member proposed it?

No. We need to leave the science standards as they are for now.

3.    Do you support an age-appropriate, medically-accurate, comprehensive approach (often referred to as abstinence plus) to sexual education for the students of Kansas?

Yes. I have always supported children getting the facts.  Ignorance is not bliss in this area.

4.    Do you think it is appropriate for individual state board members to write state curricular standards instead of relying on the board’s own appointed committees of professionals from each curricular field?

No. We need many educated individuals to help with educating our children and no one individual has all the answers.

5.    Do you have any other comments about science education you would wish to share with the voters of Kansas?

I believe that science should be taught in science class and religion should be taught in a religion class or a humanities or social studies class.

Steve E. Roberts – District 2

1.    As a State Board of Education member, which of the following organizations would you trust to inform your decision-making in regards to science?  Check all that apply.

a.    American Association for the Advancement of Science    ____
b.    The Intelligent Design Network    ____
c.    The National Academies of Science    __x__
d.    The Discovery Institute    ____
e.    The American Institute of Biological Sciences    ____
f.    Answers in Genesis    ____
g.    The National Science Teachers Association    ____
h.    The Institute for Creation Research    ____

Other organizations you trust in the area of science: (Please name)
National Science Foundation; Scientific American

2.    Would you, if elected, propose revising the science standards before the next regularly scheduled revision, or support such a revision if another board member proposed it?

I’d have to see the specific standard to answer intelligently.

3.    Do you support an age-appropriate, medically-accurate, comprehensive approach (often referred to as abstinence plus) to sexual education for the students of Kansas?

I support all citizens understanding biology.

4.    Do you think it is appropriate for individual state board members to write state curricular standards instead of relying on the board’s own appointed committees of professionals from each curricular field?

This individual board member would be quite capable in writing math standards. I don’t know about the other nine members.

5.    Do you have any other comments about science education you would wish to share with the voters of Kansas?

All students should be able to articulate an understanding of the scientific method.

Finally, for Question 1, I have not enough information to appropriately respond. But within my first year as a member of the Kansas Board of Education, I expect I’d answer intelligently and effectively.

Sue Storm – District 2

1.    As a State Board of Education member, which of the following organizations would you trust to inform your decision-making in regards to science?  Check all that apply.

a.    American Association for the Advancement of Science    __X__
b.    The Intelligent Design Network    ____
c.    The National Academies of Science    _X___
d.    The Discovery Institute    ____
e.    The American Institute of Biological Sciences    _X___
f.    Answers in Genesis    ____
g.    The National Science Teachers Association    _X___
h.    The Institute for Creation Research    ____

Other organizations you trust in the area of science: (Please name)

2.    Would you, if elected, propose revising the science standards before the next regularly scheduled revision, or support such a revision if another board member proposed it?

No, I would not support either of these proposals.

3.    Do you support an age-appropriate, medically-accurate, comprehensive approach (often referred to as abstinence plus) to sexual education for the students of Kansas?

Yes, that is my preference.  We cannot withhold accurate and thorough information that would keep students safe, just hoping that they will not decide to be sexually active.  I would favor the re-insertion of the word “comprehensive” in the accreditation regulations relating to health and human sexuality curricula. However, this issue will likely continue to be one decided by local boards.

4.    Do you think it is appropriate for individual state board members to write state curricular standards instead of relying on the board’s own appointed committees of professionals from each curricular field?

Absolutely not

5.    Do you have any other comments about science education you would wish to share with the voters of Kansas?

I am concerned that in many schools it appears that science education has been put on the back burner in order to concentrate on NCLB assessments, especially in the lower grades.  This is tragic; curiosity about the world around us needs to be encouraged from the very beginning of education.  Of course, arts, physical activity (recess), and other activities have been cut back to meet NCLB expectations.

Carolyn L. Campbell – District 4

1.    As a State Board of Education member, which of the following organizations would you trust to inform your decision-making in regards to science?  Check all that apply.

a.    American Association for the Advancement of Science    __x__
b.    The Intelligent Design Network    ____
c.    The National Academies of Science    _x___
d.    The Discovery Institute    ____
e.    The American Institute of Biological Sciences    __x_
f.    Answers in Genesis    ____
g.    The National Science Teachers Association    _x___
h.    The Institute for Creation Research    ____

Other organizations you trust in the area of science: (Please name)

2.    Would you, if elected, propose revising the science standards before the next regularly scheduled revision, or support such a revision if another board member proposed it?

I would not support revising the state science standard prior to the next regularly scheduled revision review.

3.    Do you support an age-appropriate, medically-accurate, comprehensive approach (often referred to as abstinence plus) to sexual education for the students of Kansas?

I support a comprehensive sex education curriculum. I believe our children should be knowledgeable in order to make safe choices.

4.    Do you think it is appropriate for individual state board members to write state curricular standards instead of relying on the board’s own appointed committees of professionals from each curricular field?

I believe the state curricular standards should be written only by the board’s appointed committees of professionals from each curricular field. State board members should rely on the professionals’ recommendations.

5.    Do you have any other comments about science education you would wish to share with the voters of Kansas?

I believe the theory of evolution should be taught. I also believe in the separation of church and state. Creationism and intelligent design can be taught in social study or religion classes.

Robert Meissner – District 4

Did not respond.

Kathy Martin – District 6

1.    As a State Board of Education member, which of the following organizations would you trust to inform your decision-making in regards to science?  Check all that apply.

a.    American Association for the Advancement of Science    _X__
b.    The Intelligent Design Network    _X___
c.    The National Academies of Science    _X___
d.    The Discovery Institute    _X___
e.    The American Institute of Biological Sciences    _X___
f.    Answers in Genesis    _X___
g.    The National Science Teachers Association    _X___
h.    The Institute for Creation Research    _X___

Other organizations you trust in the area of science: (Please name)

KATS (Kansas Association of Teachers of Science)

2.    Would you, if elected, propose revising the science standards before the next regularly scheduled revision, or support such a revision if another board member proposed it?

No, the standards for science should be under the same scheduled protocol as other educational standards for teaching.

3.    Do you support an age-appropriate, medically-accurate, comprehensive approach (often referred to as abstinence plus) to sexual education for the students of Kansas?

No – it is up to local boards to determine the program they wish to use if any.  If a local board decides to have sex education for students, they I would advise an abstinence until marriage message.

4.    Do you think it is appropriate for individual state board members to write state curricular standards instead of relying on the board’s own appointed committees of professionals from each curricular field?

Yes – often times the board has not actually appointed the committee.  The department has done it with suggestions from various advocacy groups.

5.    Do you have any other comments about science education you would wish to share with the voters of Kansas?

We should not limit scientific information or data whether it refutes or supports a theory that we believe in – if we censor scientific information we are not helping to discover true answers.  Some natural phenomena can not be proven 100%.  It is best to be objective and open minded in such cases.

Christopher E. Renner – District 6

1.    As a State Board of Education member, which of the following organizations would you trust to inform your decision-making in regards to science?  Check all that apply.

a.    American Association for the Advancement of Science    __X__
b.    The Intelligent Design Network    ____
c.    The National Academies of Science    __X__
d.    The Discovery Institute    ____
e.    The American Institute of Biological Sciences    __X__
f.    Answers in Genesis    ____
g.    The National Science Teachers Association    __X__
h.    The Institute for Creation Research    ____

Other organizations you trust in the area of science: (Please name)

2.    Would you, if elected, propose revising the science standards before the next regularly scheduled revision, or support such a revision if another board member proposed it?

NO!

3.    Do you support an age-appropriate, medically-accurate, comprehensive approach (often referred to as abstinence plus) to sexual education for the students of Kansas?

YES.

4.    Do you think it is appropriate for individual state board members to write state curricular standards instead of relying on the board’s own appointed committees of professionals from each curricular field?

NO.

5.    Do you have any other comments about science education you would wish to share with the voters of Kansas?

I believe that science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) hold the answers to the pressing issues facing our state, nation and the world.  I believe in separation of church and state and will fight any effort to dumb down our state’s curriculum in order to accommodate religious extremists.

Dr. Walt Chappell – District 8

1.    As a State Board of Education member, which of the following organizations would you trust to inform your decision-making in regards to science?  Check all that apply.

a.    American Association for the Advancement of Science ….     X
b.    The Intelligent Design Network
c.    The National Academies of Science ………………………     X
d.    The Discovery Institute
e.    The American Institute of Biological Sciences…………….           X
f.    Answers in Genesis
g.    The National Science Teachers Association……………….     X
h.    The Institute for Creation Research

Other organizations you trust in the area of science: (Please name)

2.    Would you, if elected, propose revising the science standards before the next regularly scheduled revision, or support such a revision if another board member proposed it?

NO!

3.    Do you support an age-appropriate, medically-accurate, comprehensive approach (often referred to as abstinence plus) to sexual education for the students of Kansas?

YES!!

4.    Do you think it is appropriate for individual state board members to write state curricular standards instead of relying on the board’s own appointed committees of professionals from each curricular field?

NO!!

5.    Do you have any other comments about science education you would wish to share with the voters of Kansas?

Students need to be taught how science concepts and facts are applied to making 21st Century decisions.  We must challenge our students to excel, be creative and become excited about learning and using science in their daily lives and careers.

Dennis Hedke – District 8

1.    As a State Board of Education member, which of the following organizations would you trust to inform your decision-making in regards to science?  Check all that apply.

a.    American Association for the Advancement of Science    _X___
b.    The Intelligent Design Network    _X  __
c.    The National Academies of Science    _X___
d.    The Discovery Institute    _X___
e.    The American Institute of Biological Sciences    _X___
f.    Answers in Genesis    _X___
g.    The National Science Teachers Association    _X___
h.    The Institute for Creation Research    _X___

Other organizations you trust in the area of science: (Please name)

American Association of Petroleum Geologists
American Chemical Society
American Geological Institute
American Geophysical Union
American Medical Association
American Physical Society
American Society of Civil Engineers
American Society of Mechanical Engineers
American Society of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers
Canadian Society of Exploration Geophysicists
European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers
Geological Society of America
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
Society of Exploration Geophysicists

2.    Would you, if elected, propose revising the science standards before the next regularly scheduled revision, or support such a revision if another board member proposed it?

I do not consider revision of the standards to be a priority. However, if new data becomes available which indicates the need for a review of existing standards, I would remain open to a review.

I have stated publicly and openly that the theory of evolution should be scrutinized along with any other theory that makes its way to the domain of scientific review. I can see no logic in attempting to isolate and protect this theory against the broad range of theories in science, economics, sociology, etc. On this subject, our standards appear to be out of balance. Theories are theories and facts are facts. While some would claim that the theory of evolution is ironclad and without fault, I respectfully disagree, and so do many individuals who belong to the organizations listed above. I know because I’ve visited with them on this very subject. Therefore, it should remain open to criticism, adjustment due to new data and evidence, and overall improvement.

3.    Do you support an age-appropriate, medically-accurate, comprehensive approach (often referred to as abstinence plus) to sexual education for the students of Kansas?

I would emphasize the abstinence side of the discussion and I would want to have a         thorough review of “age-appropriate” guidelines. Further, I would want to receive significant input from parents on this very important issue.

I would insist that parents be advised and that their consent be required for any of the following occurring on or within public school facilities, the exception being when medical attention is immediately required due to physical injury during activities related to athletics or other such circumstance:

•    Performance of medical examinations
•    Disbursement of immunizations and medications
•    Dispensing of birth control devices
•    Abortion referrals

4.    Do you think it is appropriate for individual state board members to write state curricular standards instead of relying on the board’s own appointed committees of professionals from each curricular field?

No.

5.    Do you have any other comments about science education you would wish to share with the voters of Kansas?

We have very real challenges ahead in science education in Kansas. Over the course of many years in the past, with similar projections into the future, we are experiencing major net losses in science and math teachers. It is difficult, at best, to retrain an English, History, P.E., or whatever other non-science / math professional to become qualified to teach math or science. Yet, it is happening.

There is a lot of discussion about certification (not just in science), and how it appears that Kansas has some of the most difficult conditions in America to allow individuals who appear to be qualified to become certified to teach in this state. I realize these guidelines are under review, but they need to be brought to the top of the priority list.

The concept of reciprocity with other states also needs to be prioritized and considered to relieve some of the pressure due to the net losses of qualified teachers. The review will entail significant comparative analysis related to certification requirements in states under consideration, and that process cannot be rushed.

David Dennis- District 10

1.    As a State Board of Education member, which of the following organizations would you trust to inform your decision-making in regards to science?  Check all that apply.

I am not a scientist.  I could research each of these organizations to see what they stand for; however, I believe it is easier to let you know that I do not support teaching intelligent design or creationism in science classes.  I believe that is what you are getting at with this question.  If a school district wants to teach creationism or intelligent design they could teach them in a bible study or philosophy class—not a science class.  I believe there is consensus in the scientific community on evolution.  If you feel it is important for me to research each of these organizations and provide a check beside those who support the science standards that we have in place today, I can do that.
a.    American Association for the Advancement of Science    ____
b.    The Intelligent Design Network    ____
c.    The National Academies of Science    ____
d.    The Discovery Institute    ____
e.    The American Institute of Biological Sciences    ____
f.    Answers in Genesis    ____
g.    The National Science Teachers Association    ____
h.    The Institute for Creation Research    ____

Other organizations you trust in the area of science: (Please name)

I have talked to science teachers in my school district and at a Catholic High School.  Since I am a business teacher, not a science teacher, I look for individuals who I believe have credibility and look for them for advice.

2.    Would you, if elected, propose revising the science standards before the next regularly scheduled revision, or support such a revision if another board member proposed it?

NO!!!

3.    Do you support an age-appropriate, medically-accurate, comprehensive approach (often referred to as abstinence plus) to sexual education for the students of Kansas?

I believe in teaching science and biology in our science classrooms, not sexual education.  I believe in abstinence.

4.    Do you think it is appropriate for individual state board members to write state curricular standards instead of relying on the board’s own appointed committees of professionals from each curricular field?

The board is ultimately responsible for the state standards.  I do not believe in being a rubber stamp for someone else.  There may be changes that should be made after an appointed committee provides their input due to oversight or omissions.  I trust experts to provide the best product possible; however, there could still be errors that the board should correct before the standards are published.

5.    Do you have any other comments about science education you would wish to share with the voters of Kansas?

I understand the concern many voters have about the science standards changing every two years.  That is one of the reasons I decided to run for the Kansas Board of Education.  I believe we need to quit spending time debating evolution and devote that time to ensuring that we are providing a quality, scientifically sound, education to all of the students in the state of Kansas.

Paul Casanova – District 10

1.    As a State Board of Education member, which of the following organizations would you trust to inform your decision-making in regards to science?  Check all that apply.

a.    American Association for the Advancement of Science    __X__
b.    The Intelligent Design Network    ____
c.    The National Academies of Science    __X__
d.    The Discovery Institute    ____
e.    The American Institute of Biological Sciences    __X__
f.    Answers in Genesis    ____
g.    The National Science Teachers Association    __X__
h.    The Institute for Creation Research    ____

Other organizations you trust in the area of science: (Please name)

2.    Would you, if elected, propose revising the science standards before the next regularly scheduled revision, or support such a revision if another board member proposed it?

No, there has been so much change in this area already that I feel the system has suffered.

3.    Do you support an age-appropriate, medically-accurate, comprehensive approach (often referred to as abstinence plus) to sexual education for the students of Kansas?

Yes.  I also feel though that if a parent wants their child to opt out, that the parent should have that choice.

4.    Do you think it is appropriate for individual state board members to write state curricular standards instead of relying on the board’s own appointed committees of professionals from each curricular field?

I think as a board member we should have the final say in all curricular standards. In saying that, I certainly do believe that the appointed committees should be the ones to write the standards.

5.    Do you have any other comments about science education you would wish to share with the voters of Kansas?

I think that it is important that our science standards should meet that of the nation.  If our children are going to be competitive in the 21st century they must have the academic skills to do so. I am committed to ensuring that our children can compete globally and making Kansas a leader in education.