Committee’s ‘Evolution 101′ course to be posted on Web
By Sarah Kessinger
Harris News Service
TOPEKA – Bypassed by the State Board of Education last year, a leader of the state science standards writing committee has created an “Evolution 101” course and plans to post it on a Web site so Kansans can brush up on a topic they might not have revisited since high school.
Jack Krebs, who is making presentations of the course in Johnson County, and other high school teachers say they simply want to promote better understanding of science.
“A lot of people have misconceptions about what evolution is and isn’t and about science in general,” said Hays High science teacher Cheryl Shepherd-Adams, another leader in the group Kansas Citizens for Science.
Their effort is one of several statewide activities planned as school board election season approaches. Science promises to be a hot topic in the races.
The state board’s conservative majority voted last November to set new science standards for what high school students should know before graduation.
They ignored recommendations from a majority of educators on a science standards committee, instead passing standards that allow non-natural explanations for natural phenomena.
State school board member Kathy Martin, R-Clay Center, who favors the change, said an “Evolution 101″ course could be a good thing for Kansans.
“You bet, the more they can find out the better. The more you find out about evolution, the more you find out there are flaws in it. That’s what our Kansas science standards try to do, to give more facts about evolution.”
However Krebs, the new president of Kansas Citizens for Science, said he is prepared to travel this summer to communities to explain what a vast majority of scientists understand in support of evolutionary theory.
Shepherd-Adams said they intend to make speakers available statewide to help debunk the idea that evolution is inherently atheistic.
“It’s as if students are being forced to choose between God or evolution, as defined by the state board,” she said. “But any option to believe in a god that acts through evolution is not allowed by the state board, so to speak.”
Krebs, an Oskaloosa math teacher who has taught science, said the group’s Web site soon would have postings of his speeches on evolution and supporting evidence and a Powerpoint presentation so that others can share it with classes across Kansas.
He recently gave the two two-hour sessions to about 80 people at a local church.
“We found people had a number of common misconceptions. All in all it was a very good experience,” Krebs said. “One of the points made by the minister in opening remarks was that many people took biology 10, 20, 30 years ago and might need to brush up. Evolution, depending on where you were taught, might be under-stressed.”