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Kansas standards omit evolution

Published Sep. 29, 2005

The decision leaves current policy in place: Local schools decide whether to teach it.

After months of debate, the Kansas Board of Education on Wednesday approved a set of education standards that makes no reference to evolution, the theory that living things evolved from earlier species.

The standards are suggestions only, and the 6-4 decision essentially leaves unchanged current state policy on the teaching of evolution in the public schools. Local schools now decide for themselves whether to teach the theory.

Currently, the state has no list of topics that should be on the statewide assessment tests. Educators are forming such a list, and the debate had been over whether evolution should be included.

Though the proposed standards never mentioned it, creationism, the belief that species did not evolve but were created by a higher power, became part of the debate. Some board members originally supported proposals that defined creation as "the idea that the design and complexity of the cosmos requires an intelligent designer." But that proposal was later withdrawn.

Although the standards make no mention of one species evolving into another, the standards do mention natural selection, the idea that advantageous traits increase in a population over time.

Bill Wagnon, who voted against the standards, said: "I think they're weak _ they're mutated. They don't prepare students to take placement exams for college entry." He said the message to local school boards is "We don't want you to think that (evolution) is important."