Thursday, December 22, 2005

Board of Ed. responses

Kathy Martin on Dover:

Martin said she understood the Dover ruling to mean that intelligent design cannot be taught in science classes but could be taught outside of the science classroom.

"But this is Kansas, not Pennsylvania," she said. [A helpful geography lesson! -TfK]

"In Kansas, we are not teaching ID in science class. ID is not science. Not yet," Martin said.
Martin said last spring "ID is science-based and strong in facts." Guess she changed her mind, or at least her tune.

The Clay Center Dispatch notes
Benchmark three of the life science standards for grades 8-12 defines evolution as "an unguided natural process that has no discernible direction or goal", and introduces the phrase "irreducibly complex."

"Irreducible complexity is a scientific term. It is not ID. It is scientific fact," Martin said.
Not really, but that's amusing at least. Judge Jones took the concept seriously even though Behe admitted it was poorly defined, and found no evidence that anyone has actually found IC in the world, nor that it would be an argument for anything, just an argument against (if it were well-defined and found to exist).

Apparently, late in the interview, Martin said something to the effect that "If the standards are going to cause so much trouble, then maybe we should get rid of them altogether."
In an email exchange with me, Martin wrote:

Kansas Science Standards allow science to counter science, and weaknesses or controversies to be addressed using scientific data and research. There are no requirements to local districts to include any of the standards, but they are to be used as a guide in determining curriculum and selecting textbooks, etc. I do not see the Dover ruling affecting our science teaching here in Kansas, but it does make you wonder what the neo-Dawinian evolutionists are afraid of when there was such a fuss made over a simple statement. It also sadly shows how America is being "ruled" by non-elected judges.
When, oh, when, will we stop letting people selected by presidents and confirmed by the Senate serve as neutral arbiters of fact and law based on evidence presented in a carefully refereed setting. It's madness!

I'm inclined to think that the testimony about the disclaimer "making students stupid" probably swayed Judge Jones.

Bill Wagnon wrote to say:

I think that Judge Jones was attempting to be universal, and his remarks were particularly appropriate for the Kansas Science Standards adopted by the radical majority on the board. Corrective action in Kansas will probably be found in the outcome of the election in 2006, rather than another court case.
Connie Morris wrote:

The Kansas Science Standards are vastly unlike the inclusion of ID in Dover. Contrary to continued inaccurate media coverage, the Kansas standards do NOT include ID, but merely a more detailed and thorough explanation of the theory of evolution.
A less accurate (according to the independent reviewer the Board hired) portrayal of evolution. They did add material, so I suppose one could say there's more detail, assuming we care only for quantity, not quality.

Janet Waugh wrote:

I think the decision was not only a victory for science but more importantly a victory for students.

I'm confident if we do not reverse this decision [the Kansas science standards], we will also be challenged in court. That would be tragic because we will end up spending lots of tax dollars for a defense that would take funding from our public schools.
I have emailed several Board members back, asking how this passage from Judge Jones's ruling might affect Kansas:

ID’s backers have sought to avoid the scientific scrutiny which we have now determined that it cannot withstand by advocating that the controversy, but not ID itself, should be taught in science class. This tactic is at best disingenuous, and at worst a canard. The goal of the IDM is not to encourage critical thought, but to foment a revolution which would supplant evolutionary theory with ID.
and whether the the extensive discussion of ID, the supernatural in science and the general context of the hearings in the spring, this passage seems relevant in Kansas. Since Jones found that singling evolution out for criticism was itself a form of religious endorsement, and did so on the basis of other courts' rulings, I asked if they are concerned that similar arguments could be made against the Kansas standards? Is there any likelihood that the Dover ruling will cause any revisions or clarifications in the standards, or that the Board would offer guidance on implementing the standards? Is there any likelihood of the Board revising the standards in light of this ruling?

Here's hoping I hear back. Even if I don't, it's clear that the Board's majority is following the "disingenuous" strategy Judge Jones describes.