TOPEKA, Kansas, Feb. 14, 2001 (AP) - Evolution was restored Wednesday as a central theory in Kansas state's science curriculum, ending a debate that subjected the state to international ridicule over the teachings of the origins of man.

The State Board of Education voted to approve new science standards to be used in developing tests that will be given to students later this spring. The tests will include questions on evolution, which will now be considered one of the unifying concepts of the state's science curriculum.

The new standards will replace ones adopted in August 1999, which omitted references to many evolutionary concepts. Those standards brought Kansas international attention and criticism from scientists and science groups who saw evolution's de-emphasis as a step back.

The board caused an uproar with its 1999 standards for science. Critics said the standards stripped evolution from its accepted place at the center of biological studies in an effort to .

The die for changing the standards was cast last fall when voters ousted two board members who voted for de-emphasizing evolution.

Evolution, a theory developed by Charles Darwin and others, holds that the Earth is billions of years old and that all life, including humans, evolved from simple forms through a process of natural selection.

Some religious fundamentalists and others object to the teaching of evolution, saying it contradicts the biblical account of creation.

Kansas is one of several states, including Arizona, Alabama, Illinois, New Mexico, Texas and Nebraska, where school boards dominated by religious conservatives have attempted to take evolution out of state science standards or to de-emphasize evolutionary concepts.

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