Thursday, March 24, 2005

Scientists not interested in playing Board's game

Scott Brande is a geologist at the University of Alabama. The Board asked him to come talk about No Child Left Behind, and he declined as follows:

Thank you for your invitation to me to appear before a subcommittee of the Kansas State Board of Education during its consideration of whether the Kansas Science Curriculum Standards abide by language of a conference report of the NCLB act.

You already have received my written comments on specific items proposed by the IDN as modifications to the majority science committee report.

I understand that at the January meeting of the Board, each of the motions made by representatives of the IDN was discussed and defeated.

I also understand that in response to these defeats, the IDN has proposed a more generalized discussion on views of the nature of science expressed by both representatives of the "mainstream" (i.e., scientific majority) as well as representatives of the IDN or other like-minded proponents of non-scientific views (i.e., intelligent design), especially as these views relate to the NCLB Act conference committee statement you quoted below.

That the Board would order such a public discussion is especially odd for the following reasons.

1) Viewpoints on the nature of science expressed by the IDN were made perfectly clear in their objections to the draft science curriculum standards.

2) These views were defeated in formal motions.

Further discussions of such views would appear to have a purpose for no reason other than trying to once again inject such viewpoints into the science curriculum, when in fact such views have already been rejected.

This could be interpreted as unAmerican - the IDN gave its best shot, and the shot fell far short of the target. The IDN seems not to want to play by the rules (specifically Robert's Rules of Order). The controversial discussion ought now to be closed, and the Board should proceed with the adoption of the draft science standards without further interference by the IDN or its supporters.

3) Now the IDN supporters wish discussion of a generalized statement apparently not previously considered by the Board.

This is most logically interpreted as an "end run" by the IDN and its supporters to achieve its original goals of injecting intelligent design into the science standards after its original proposals had been rejected.

I see no reason why the Board should provide a public forum for such a discussion of viewpoints, which have already been rejected.

Furthermore, as I understand the background of the NCLB statement to be discussed, this particular statement by a conference committee did not become part of the Act, and thus it does not carry the force of law based upon adopted legislation.

For this reason, I fail to see why the Board is providing the additional public forum for the debate-like airing of viewpoints on a statement that has no legislative basis.

For these reasons, and others, I respectfully decline your generous offer to provide expert opinion on the conference committee statement to be addressed.

In order for the Board and its science subcommittee to better understand why I believe it is inappropriate for me to provide my views during the scheduled hearings, I request that these comments be distributed to the Board and the science subcommittee. The Board and the science subcommittee might otherwise misinterpret my absence as due to some other unrelated reason.

Respectfully yours,
Scott Brande, Ph.D.
Exactly. No one has a problem discussing science with people who want to learn. The Board no longer cares about science, they want to force religion into science classes. Religion isn't science, and doesn't belong in science classes. Religion classes have no obligation to teach science. That's how it works.