Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Competition for the un-Kansas

Nebraska Man Sentenced for Having Sex With Girl, 13 - New York Times:
A 23-year-old Nebraska man who pleaded guilty to first-degree sexual assault last year for having sex with his 13-year-old girlfriend, whom he impregnated and later married, was sentenced to 18 to 30 months in prison yesterday.

Matthew Koso in Richardson County District Court yesterday in Falls City, Neb., where he was sentenced to prison for sexual assault.

"It recognizes the seriousness of the act and gives him a chance, if he behaves well in prison, to be out in nine months and get on with his life," Mr. Bruning said. "We're also aware of the mitigators here, namely that he married this girl and is also trying to be a father to this child. That counts for something."
An admission of guilt?
In Nebraska, it is illegal for anyone 19 or older to have sex with anyone younger than 16. The state has a minimum marriage age of 17.

In Kansas, children as young as 12 can marry with parental or judicial consent.
Kansas, where marriage doesn't mean you can have sex. Except maybe oral sex, depending how much the Attorney General knows about the topic.

This, in the wake of Wisconsin's move to be the un-Kansas shows that there's a race on to leave Kansas at the bottom of the barrel.

Speaking of which, PZ Myers and Ed Brayton are at it again, squabbling like the Odd Couple over Wisconsin's science standards legislation. The legislation itself is inoffensive on its face. It requires what any sensible school board ought to require, that science classes present science. And that's why FelixEd supports it. OscarMyers opposes it, rightly noting that there's no good reason for the state legislature to be interfering in the science class.

I guess I don't object to the state legislature offering broad guidance. Setting broad standards, ensuring that science classes teach science, that history classes teach what we know about history, not crazy conspiracy theory history, etc. That makes some sort of sense.

Does it cross the line to forbid any coverage of non-science in science class? Explaining why ID and astrology aren't science, or why phrenology might or might not be (is it a failed theory or just pseudo-science?) can be useful, and it would be a shame if this bill prevented that conversation.

Requiring that the state science standards match up with the NAS and/or NSTA recommendations might be a better solution. It requires that anything presented as science matches the consensus of scientists, but leaves room for diversions that match up with best practices established by experienced science educators.

Given that the NAS and NSTA have both been vocal about abuses of their recommendations, this seems like a solution that could work. The Kansas standards would fail under this rule, even though they might scrape by under the proposed language (the standards don't require the teaching of IDC by name).