Yesterday voters in Kansas sent a clear message to their state’s Board of Education – bring sound science back to our schools! Antievolution board members recently used their 6-4 majority to rewrite (under the tutelage of local “intelligent design” activists) state science standards that impugn the scientific status of evolution. Similar attempts to rewrite Kansas science education standards were first enacted in 1998 (then under the tutelage of “creation” activists), but the standards were reversed in 2001 after supporters of evolution education defeated antievolution board memebers in their reelection bids. It now seems certain that this second round of anti-science standards will be reversed, since supporters of evolution education will be guaranteed at least a 6-4 majority on the board after the November elections. Moreover, the two antievolution board members who did survive their primary battles both face evolution supporters in the November election.
The Kansas elections form another in a promising series of recent setbacks for the “intelligent design” movement. In December 2005, evolution supporters won a stunning victory against similar antievolution standards adopted by the Dover Area School Board in Pennsylvania. In a scathing decision for the plaintiffs, Judge John E. Jones III not only questioned the scientific credibility of intelligent design, but also castigated the board for “breathtaking inanity” in adopting the questionable standards.
The decision has drawn national attention and has been widely regarded as a model for further legal challenges to the proliferation of “intelligent design” standards intended to undermine the teaching of evolution. In February 2006, the Ohio Board of Education rescinded a “critical analysis of evolution” model lesson plan in the state’s science standards. Both the Intelligent Design Network and the Discovery Institute engaged in massive publicity campaigns in Kansas prior to the election, and antievolution incumbent Connie Morris had warned constituents that if the antievolution faction on the board is defeated, “the science standards will be removed within an hour” of the new board’s first meeting. My heartiest congratulations to Kansas for defeating Ms. Morris and keeping the prospect of her prophecy alive.