NSTA Letter to the Kansas State Department of Education

NSTA Letter to KS Dept. of Education

On October 26, 2005, NSTA sent the following letter to the Kansas State Department of Education, requesting that the Kansas Science Education Standards not quote or refer to the NSTA publication NSTA Pathways to the Science Standards because “the draft Kansas standards fail to recognize the theory of evolution as a major unifying theme of science and the foundation of all biology.”

October 26, 2005

Dr. Alexa Posny
Assistant Commissioner of Education
Kansas State Department of Education
120 S.E.10th Street
Topeka, KS 66612

cc: Dr. Steve Case, KSES Revision Committee Chair
Carol Williamson, Committee Co-chair

Dear Dr. Posny:

Thank you for your August 22 letter asking us to examine the use of NSTA Pathways to the Science Standards: Guidelines for Moving the Vision into Practice, Middle School Edition in the current draft of the Kansas Science Education Standards. We appreciate the chance to review the treatment of our copyrighted material for accuracy and proper presentation.

Although the majority of the draft Kansas standards could proudly serve as a model for other states to emulate, there are significant errors regarding the theory of evolution. These inaccuracies are of such importance that they compromise the Kansas State Board of Education’s (KSBE) stated vision and mission for these Standards, not to mention all of science.

Your mission statement reads, “Kansas science education contributes to the preparation of all students as lifelong learners who can use science to make informed and reasoned decisions that contribute to their local, state, national and international communities.”

Your vision statement begins, “Science education in Kansas is intended to help students to develop the understandings and intellectual abilities they need to lead personal fulfilling lives, and to equip them to participate thoughtfully with fellow citizens in building and protecting a society that is open, equitable, and vital. The educational system must prepare the citizens of Kansas to meet the challenges of the 21st century.”

We applaud these statements, but the standards, as currently written, will result in Kansas students being confused about the scientific process and ill-prepared both for the rigors of higher education and for the increasingly technological and scientific challenges we face as a nation.

Therefore, despite much outstanding material contained in the standards, we have no choice but to ask the KSBE to refrain from referencing or quoting from NSTA Pathways in the KSES. Specifically, the draft Kansas standards fail to recognize the theory of evolution as a major unifying theme of science and the foundation of all biology. NSTA strongly supports this premise and calls for science curricula, state science standards, and teachers to emphasize evolution in a manner commensurate with its importance as a unifying concept in science and its overall explanatory power. This position is consistent with those issued by the National Academies, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the vast majority of scientific and educational organizations.

However, we believe that, working together, we can resolve the issues that stand in the way of our granting permission, and we stand ready and willing to work with the KSBE to ensure that your students receive the quality science education they need and deserve.

We do not maintain that science is superior to other ways of understanding our world nor do we think that scientific inquiry is inconsistent with a theological search for answers. Rather, there are profound differences between these ways of knowing and failure to understand them will put the students of Kansas at a competitive disadvantage as they take their place in the world.

We appeal to the Board to reconsider its position and work with us for the benefit of your students, science teachers, and your state.

Sincerely,

Michael Padilla
NSTA President