Kansas USD 383: Board of Directors of the Kansas Association of Teachers of Science

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Provided by Keith Miller

HAYS, KS – In response to the Kansas State Board of Education, the Board of Directors of the Kansas Association of Teachers of Science has released a position statement on the State Board of Education’s Science Standards 2005. In a cover letter for the response, KATS Board of Directors President David Pollock said, “The Kansas Association of Teachers of Science (KATS) is the largest science teacher association in the state of Kansas. The 18 elected board members represent elementary through college teachers. The following is the official position of KATS that was passed at the regularly scheduled board meeting January 21,2006.”

Pollock is a teacher at Hays High School, Hays USD 489.

Kansas Association of Teachers of Science response to the Kansas State Board of Education adoption of the 2005 Science Standards:

The Kansas Association of Teachers of Science (KATS) is committed to promoting quality science teaching and the scientific literacy of both students and citizens throughout the state of Kansas. Accordingly, the KATS Board of Directors rejects on both scientific and pedagogical grounds the 2005 State Science Standards approved by the Kansas State Board of Education (KSBE). The 2005 Standards neither promote quality teaching nor the development of scientific literacy.

As the state-level affiliate of the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), KATS is the largest organization in Kansas representing teachers of science. We offer our unhesitating support to teachers who continue to emphasize science teaching that parallels contemporary scientific understanding as it is practiced throughout the world as a search for natural causes.

By redefining science in the Kansas Science Education Standards, the KSBE is promoting intelligent design tenets that purport supernatural explanations as valid scientific theories. Given that the goal of the intelligent design movement includes replacing scientific explanations with theistic understanding and to see this design theory inappropriately imposed on our religious, cultural, moral, and political life, the KATS Board of Directors adamantly opposes turning Kansas science classrooms into theatres of political and religious turmoil blurring the Constitutional ideals of separation of Church and State.

Therefore, KATS resolves that:

–Kansas teachers of science should continue to teach science as it is practiced throughout the world, and not attribute natural phenomena to supernatural causation;

–Kansas teachers of science should explore with their students the extensive evidence for evolutionary theory and actively refute the so-called evidence against evolution, as outlined in the new science standards ;

–The Kansas Association of Teachers of Science recognizes that the KSBE is exhibiting educational irresponsibility in ignoring mainstream scientific understandings by substituting its own religiously motivated agenda;

–State assessments should not include items related to the disputed portions of the 2005 Standards, as these statements do not reflect the global view of the science community;

–The KSBE should reconsider the inclusion of non-scientific ideas about the origins and development of life in order not to damage the prospects for student admission to high-quality colleges and universities;

–The KSBE should be aware that their anti-science actions are in direct conflict with the recent Kansas Bioscience Initiative.

Be it further resolved, that the Board of Directors of the Kansas Association of Teachers of Science (KATS) does not support and disassociates itself fi-om these Kansas Science Education Standards (2005) as approved by the Kansas State Board of Education and recommends continued use of the 2001 Standards for curriculum development and assessment.

Signed The Board of Directors of the Kansas Association of Teachers of Science President David Pollock

10 Comments

PvM & Keith, it’s good to see this here! Those of us who’re teaching science in Kansas deeply appreciate the support of the Thumb and our state science teaching organization.

The statement is also linked here .

It’s a revolt!

KATS: Keep up the good work. Your cause is just and the war is long. They will never give up and neither must you.

Warm regards, Wes Johnson, Ph.D.

I’ve never posted anything on a blog before. I respect all the scientists and science teachers who feel so very threatened by the new science standards but I just don’t understand why they think the sky is falling. Can’t science stand on its own? What can be proven will stand and what can’t won’t. I got my science education at KU and I just don’t see the problem with showing students what evolutionary theory still can’t explain. Don’t you want the students to think for themselves and question what hasn’t been explained? Do they have to believe everything about evolution? I thought scientists were supposed to be inquisitive and skeptical. I always loved science classes and think those out there doing research should be applauded for the new insights they give us, but I think there is an overreaction going on. Thanks for reading my post.

I’ve never posted anything on a blog before. I respect all the scientists and science teachers who feel so very threatened by the new science standards but I just don’t understand why they think the sky is falling.

Here’s a link to documents from the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial in Pennsylvania last year. Please take a look at the “Decision of the Court”. If you want to look over some of the actual testimony, great.

Intelligent design is creationism, and it is religion. That means it is subject to separation of state laws with respect to inclusion in science classes at public schools. Are you saying that it is trivial to violate the constitutional rights of students? I hope that’s not what you’re saying.

Intelligent Design is not science, and arguments for it are bad science. Are you saying it is OK to teach students some bad science on the presumption that they can tell the difference? If they had the expertise to tell the difference, would they still be in school? I hope that’s not what you are saying.

Yes, science can (and does) stand on its own. Yes, students should be taught to be inquisitive and skeptical. Yes, there are disagreements about details of evolutionary theory, although I wouldn’t call them “gaps” per se.

The issue is that these kinds of legislation have shown time and again to simply be a facade for inserting an unscientific, and inherently religious, agenda into our public schools. The goal is indoctrination, not critical thinking or education.

You can spot the disingenuity in many ways. Blatant examples, like the lesson plan attached to the Ohio standards, feature tired, old creationist talking points that have been repeatedly debunked by the scientific community and significantly misrepresent facts about evolution.

More subtly, any policy singling out evolution is highly suspect. There are few, if any, extant scientific theories with firmer support from empirically observed phenomena. In high school physics, we generally teach Newton’s theory of gravitation - a theory that we *know* to have gaps and we *know* to be “wrong” about a great many things. We teach it because a) it works well enough for phenomena that the vast majority of us are likely to observe, and b) a full understanding of general relativity is beyond the grasp of most high school students (and besides that, largely depends on a good understanding of Newtonian gravitation).

The practice of teaching Newtonian gravitation without general relativity is much, much less justifiable in principle than teaching evolution. Yet these policies target only evolution. That points strongly to the (not-so-)hidden agenda of inserting biblical creation into our schools. Which is not only scientifically vacuous and morally wrong, but illegal.

Louise van Court Wrote:

Can’t science stand on its own? What can be proven will stand and what can’t won’t.

“Science” is not threatened, science education is. Big difference. The “intelligent designists” have had absolutely no impact on science, as can easily be verified by checking the professional science literature.

I just don’t see the problem with showing students what evolutionary theory still can’t explain.

I don’t think anyone is suggesting that. Perhaps if you were more specific about (a) what problems with evolution you think should be taught, and (b) what you think scientists are objecting to being taught, we might have a dialog. Just repeating slogans doesn’t get us very far.

I thought scientists were supposed to be inquisitive and skeptical.

Oh, we are. We’re skeptical, for instance, that there is any substance at all to “intelligent design theory”. We’re skeptical of claims of other scientists, too, and generally refuse to accept them without extensive testing and documentation.

I think there is an overreaction going on.

Well, again, specifics would be useful. If by “overreaction”, you mean the objection to teaching as science something that has no support among scientists, I have to disagree. If you have reason to believe that something that is actually discussed in scientific meetings, scientific journals, working laboratories, etc., is being “censored”, please bring it to our attention here.

Thanks for reading my post.

You’re welcome.

Re “Can’t science stand on its own?”

Against honest criticism, yes.

But against (1) expert con artists and (2) people who trust those con artists more than they do the experts in the relavant fields, maybe not.

Henry

Science stands on its own just fine. Notice that ID doesn’t have any Scientific papers? Not one? Not even one teensy little itty-bitty one? But students in high school are just cracking the shell of science. They need to learn the basic tenets so that, if they do go on to a career in science, they will have a solid understanding of the basics. If they want to go and do the research and publish the very first scientific evidence for divine creation (it’s dishonest to call ID anything else), great, but that will require an awful lot of understanding.

Can you imagine a scientist studying deep sea vents not “believing” in plate tectonics? This after having been taught that there are “gaps” in plate tectonic theory? These creatures live in these long ridges of Intelligently Designed heat “channels” (like the canals on Mars I suppose) perfectly designed for heating the atlantic (the better one) and for supporting these strange and beautiful creatures placed there by the “intelligent designer”. And the seafloor outside of these vents shows the amazing quality of reversed magnetic allignment in the rock in a symetrical pattern is even more evidence for design. It’s symmetrical for ID’s sake.

Re “It’s symmetrical for ID’s sake.”

Yes, but the tube worms are still tube worms. ;)

Henry

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This page contains a single entry by PvM published on March 1, 2006 2:51 AM.

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