A law firm representing the Kansas State Board of Education recently sought permission to reprint selected portions of the National Science Education Standards (published by the National Research Council), the Benchmarks for Science Literacy (published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science), and Pathways to the Science Standards (published by the National Science Teachers Association). Our organizations originally gave tentative permission to the writing team from Kansas to incorporate portions of our publications into the Kansas Science Education Standards. But the standards that were approved by the Kansas State Board of Education in August contained substantive revisions that deleted any mention about the origins and evolution of the universe and life on earth. Given this unfortunate development, we have revisited the issue of whether to grant permission.
|By deeming that only certain aspects of the theory of evolution should be taught, the [Kansas] State Board of Education adopted a position that is contrary to modern science.|
Because the specific changes that were made in the revised Kansas standards were not highlighted in the request for permission, our organizations examined the entire document in detail.
Both individually and collectively, we reached the same conclusion: As modified, the Kansas Science Education Standards do not, as the Kansas State Board asserts, "...embrace the vision and content" of the National Science Education Standards and the Benchmarks for Science Literacy. We also cannot accept the statements that "...the Kansas Science Education Standards are founded not only on the research base but also on the work of over 18,000 scientists, science educators, teachers, school administrators, and parents across the country that produced national standards, as well as the school district teams and thousands of individuals who contributed to the benchmarks. Thus, the Kansas Science Education Standards are consistent with both expressions of a unified vision for science education." (Both quotes are from the Kansas Science Education Standards "Acknowledgment of Prior Work," pp. 4-5.) If the current version of the Kansas Science Education Standards is adopted and implemented, we deny permission to use text from our publications for that purpose. We also collectively request that reference to and acknowledgment of the national Standards, Benchmarks, and Pathways be removed from the Kansas document. Our decision to disassociate our documents and the organizations we represent from the Kansas Science Education Standards was made with difficulty and after considerable study of the revised document. Parts of the Kansas science standards are consistent with the goals of our documents. For many areas of science education, the version prepared by the 28-member writing team provides a model for other states to emulate. For example, the standards that stress the teaching of science through inquiry-based and interdisciplinary approaches complement the documents by all three organizations.
The Kansas Science Education Standards indicate that students should understand evolutionary processes that lead to changes within species (referred to as "microevolution" in the Kansas document). However, the Kansas standards effectively eliminated consideration of any aspects of evolution that examine origins of the earth and life and processes that may give rise to the formation of new species (defined as "macroevolution"). By deeming that only certain aspects of the theory of evolution should be taught, the State Board of Education adopted a position that is contrary to modern science and to the very visions and goals that the Kansas Science Education Standards claim to espouse.
Thus, for the aforementioned reasons, we must disassociate ourselves and our organizations from the Kansas Science Education Standards.
President, National Academy of Sciences
Stephen J. Gould
President, American Association for the Advancement of Science
President, National Science Teachers Association