Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Personal Press Release

If only there were some organization with actual letterhead and stuff to send out press releases. Guess I'll have to do it myself.

I know a number of people who very much want the hearings on school standards to be open and we are all very disappointed that the school board is choosing to subvert the open process that is in place.

The current standards are based on external review, a review which compared the standards to recommendations by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, other state standards and recommendations from other scientific and expert groups. The experts the board wants to interview are people whose views were considered by those professional organizations and found lacking. Now the Board is going around both the public and the professionals to achieve a goal they couldn't reach any other way.

There is special concern since the Topeka hearings were just canceled. Scientists, parents and teachers in Kansas City were vociferous in their opposition to inserting religion into our science classes, and many Topekans were patiently waiting for their opportunity to stand up for the future of the state and its children.

Dr. Julie Campbell, mother and director of undergraduate biology labs at the University of Kansas, wanted to explain that she wants her son to have a science education that's separate from his religious education, and she sends him to Catholic school because she doesn't think the public schools will do that.

I am a graduate student in ecology and evolutionary biology at KU and I was prepared to remind the board how embarrassed Kansans were in the aftermath of the 1999 Board of Education decision on intelligent design, and its subsequent reversal. “I came to KU because it has one of the best programs in evolutionary biology in the country, and because the natural history museum has one of the best collections in the world. Whenever I told people what I studied, they got this sheepish look on their face and explained that the actions of the 1999 school board didn't reflect Kansas.”

Pat Hayes, Overland Park father, wanted to ask the board stand up for science in science classes, asking “Who among us would think it fair to teach French in a math class, or chemistry in an English class? Why do some of us assume it is fair to teach religion and philosophy in a biology classroom?”

Everyone thanks the Board for offering opportunities for people across Kansas to publicly express their opinions, and hope that we will not be denied a full and public hearing of views on this issue.