The Kansas Board of Education voted yesterday to delete virtually any mention of evolution from the state's science curriculum. While the move does not prevent the teaching of evolution, it will not be included in the state assessment tests that evaluate students' performance in various grades. The decision is likely to embolden local school boards seeking either to remove evolution from their curriculums, to force teachers to raise questions about its validity, or to introduce creationist ideas. Some local boards have already said they will consider adopting creationist textbooks, while others have said they will continue teaching evolution.
Kansas is the latest state to face a battle over evolution and creationism in recent years. Alabama, New Mexico, and Nebraska have made changes that to varying degrees challenge the pre-eminence of evolution in the scientific curriculum, generally labeling it as a theory that is merely one possible explanation. Others, like Texas, Ohio, Washington, New Hampshire, and Tennessee, have considered, but ultimately defeated, similar bills, including some that would have required those who teach evolution also to present evidence contradicting it.
In Alabama, biology textbooks carry a sticker calling evolution "a controversial theory some scientists present as a scientific explanation for the origin of living things." The disclaimer adds: "No one was present when life first appeared on earth. Therefore, any statement about life's origins should be considered as theory, not fact."