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Creationists win victory in Kansas

The Kansas Board of Education has adopted new standards for teaching biology that critics say will virtually eliminate any consideration of evolution from the science curriculum in the state's public schools.

Republican Gov. Bill Graves called the action by the Kansas Board of Education "a terrible, tragic, embarrassing solution to a problem that didn't exist."

The action by the education board, on a 6-4 vote, is among the most far-reaching victories yet for the so-called creationist movement, which rejects the scientific concept of evolution in favor of a biblical view of the world as only a few thousand years old, and which teaches that each species was created separately by a divine being.

Although the new standards adopted by Kansas do not prevent local school boards from teaching evolution, it will not be included in the state assessment tests that evaluate students' performances in various grades and is likely to discourage school districts from spending time or money on the subject.

Equally, the Wednesday decision is likely to embolden some school districts to consider adopting creationist textbooks.

In taking the action, conservative board members said they wanted to make sure that schools teach "sound" science, arguing evolution, or natural selection, is a flawed theory that cannot be proven.

Kansas is only the most recent battleground in a war between creationists and biologists that has been going on for more than a decade following a Supreme Court ruling that public schools cannot teach creationism as a fact.