Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Kansas Association of Teachers of Science refuses to back new science standards

From the KATS declaration (PDF):

Kansas Association of Teachers of Science response to the Kansas State Board of Education adoption of the 2005 Science Standards:

The Kansas Association of Teachers of Science (KATS) is committed to promoting quality science teaching and the scientific literacy of both students and citizens throughout the state of Kansas. Accordingly, the KATS Board of Directors rejects on both scientific and pedagogical grounds the 2005 State Science Standards approved by the Kansas Board of Education (KBOE). The 2005 Standards neither promote quality teaching nor the development of scientific literacy. As the state-level affiliate of the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), KATS is the largest organization in Kansas representing teachers of science. We offer our unhesitating support to teachers who continue to emphasize science teaching that parallels contemporary scientific understanding as it is practiced throughout the world as a search for natural causes. By redefining science in the Kansas Science Education Standards, the KBOE is promoting intelligent design tenets that purport supernatural explanations as valid scientific theories. Given that the goal of the intelligent design movement includes replacing scientific explanations with theistic understanding and to see this design theory inappropriately imposed on our religious, cultural, moral, and political life; the KATS Board of Directors adamantly opposes turning Kansas science classrooms into theatres of political and religious turmoil blurring the Constitutional ideals of separation of Church and State.

Therefore, KATS resolves that:

Kansas teachers of science should continue to teach science as it is practiced throughout the world, and not attribute natural phenomena to supernatural causation;

Kansas teachers of science should explore with their students the extensive evidence for evolutionary theory and actively refute the so-called evidence against evolution, as outlined in the new science standards;

The Kansas Association of Teachers of Science recognizes that the KBOE is exhibiting educational irresponsibility in ignoring mainstream scientific understandings by substituting its own religiously-motivated agenda;

State assessments should not include items related to the disputed portions of the 2005 Standards, as these statements do not reflect the global view of the science community;

The KBOE should reconsider the inclusion of non-scientific ideas about the origins and development of life in order not to damage the prospects for student admission to high quality colleges and universities;

The KBOE should be aware that their anti-science actions are in direct conflict with the recent Kansas Bioscience Initiative;

Be it further resolved, that the Board of Directors of the Kansas Association of Teachers of Science (KATS) does not support and disassociates itself from these Kansas Science Education Standards (2005) as approved by the Kansas State Board of Education and recommends continued use of the 2001 Standards for curriculum development and assessment.
No one involved wants these changes. The Science Standards Committee rejected them several times, so the Board had to invent an excuse to overrule their experts. The fake experts they brought in were an embarrassment. If this ever gets to court, their comments will be an embarrassment of riches for the advocates of accurate science education. If not, just an embarrassment to the State.

Meanwhile, KATS will be urging its members to stick with the old standards until something more adequate comes along.