Note from Kansas

I received this note from a Kansan who asked that it be posted on PT. She said Jack Krebs (head of Kansas Citizens for Science) might be too modest (or maybe he is trying to return to normal life!).

On the day after Charles Darwins’ birthday, and the day before Valentines Day, the Kansas State Board of Education delivered its much-anticipated reversal of the anti-science standards adopted in November 2005.

Although this outcome was expected after the August 2006 primary election resulted in a guaranteed moderate majority on the board, conservatives fought to the end to amend the standards to include their non-natural definition of science and their bogus evolution criticisms. Each motion to amend was defeated. Ultraconservative Ken Willard of Hutchinson requested that the board go into executive session just before the standards discussion. According to the Topeka Capital-Journal, “He asked whether the state can endorse an idea that nature can be solely explained by material causes and whether the state can suppress information critical of evolution – two problems conservatives say the new standards would create, though opponents argue otherwise.” Willard never explained why no state includes supernatural explanations in its science standards, because he doesn’t like the answer: such topics are outside the domain of science.

There are a number of hard-working Kansans who deserve recognition for their efforts. First and foremost is Jack Krebs, president of Kansas Citizens for Science, who helped mobilize other concerned Kansans to fight the many-headed Hydra known as ID. Blogger Pat Hayes of Red State Rabble ( kept us succinctly yet poetically up-to-date on the latest developments, and scienceblogger Josh Rosenau of Thoughts from Kansas ( provided interesting political and scientific commentaries. The Kansas Alliance for Education PAC ( supported pro-science candidates for the state board of education races, and hundreds of volunteers mobilized across the state to raise money and work on their behalf. Those volunteers themselves were a decisive factor in the victory.

Obviously, the creationists aren’t going to give up and go home, and they’ll keep pushing to re-create science in their image. Five seats on the state board of education are up for re-election in 2008; four of these seats are occupied by moderates, two of whom have already decided not to run.

Reasonable, pro-science Kansans will be looking for candidates who understand that science curricula should be determined by scientists and educators, not lawyers and glorified PR firms masquerading as think tanks.