Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Prolonging the agony

Kansas City Star | 05/11/2005 | No quick vote foreseen in evolution teaching:
It could be August before the Kansas Board of Education makes a final decision on how evolution should be taught, the board's chairman said Tuesday.

Chairman Steve Abrams said he expected the board to hear a report in June from the subcommittee holding hearings now on a minority proposal to teach evolution from a more critical point of view. If any vote is taken next month, he said, it might be on a draft of the standards. But a final vote isn't likely until July or August, he said. …

During a break in the board's monthly meeting Tuesday, Abrams said he expected the board to seek an external review of the science standards draft that the board favored. The board routinely solicits such reviews from out-of-state experts before adopting standards for any part of its curriculum. …

Also Tuesday, during the board's public comment period, members heard from John Richard Schrock, a professor at Emporia State University, who trains biology teachers.

Schrock, an evolution defender, said teachers in Kansas expect students to understand evolution but do not require them to believe it. During recent months, he said, he too often has heard people wrongly insinuate that teachers expect their students to believe in evolution.

“Understanding does not mandate belief,” he said.

How long before the Board makes the exact opposite point about "belief"? How badly will they misunderstand everything said to them?

Consider Kathy Martin's bizarre effort to integrate new words into her vocabulary (from Nightline):

I'm not going to say it's a theory if they don't think it is. But I don't care if it's a theory or not, it's another idea. It's some information.
I guess the word of the day was "theory." She's starting to think that a theory and a fact aren't opposites, but she's not quite there.

Moving back up in the piece, I'll be very interested in the external review. The Board tabled a discussion of external review of Draft 1, knowing it would be very well reviewed. Some suggested that we should urge them to send the rejected proposal out for review also, thinking that they would never subject themselves to that embarrassment.

But there it is, a proposal to have experts in the field explain what's wrong with the proposals, and why they were rejected.

And also an opportunity to delay action. If the Board felt like the hearings were a success, they'd move to build on that momentum, and vote fast. Moving the actual vote back is a way of letting the press coverage settle. They want any residual discomfort in the public to dissipate before they wade back into this again.

Surely we can find a way to keep the press and public informed about this process while they bide their time.