New attack on science standards?

Florida Citizens for Science points to the existence of a new group, Citizens for Objective Public Education, and says,

I have an assignment for you folks. The national science standards that many states, including Florida, are considering adopting are predictably under fire due to the prominence of evolution in the draft document. Kansas has hit the news first, firing the initial shot: Kan. official wants evolution concerns considered,

referring to an AP release which is posted in somewhat longer form here. According to an AP release datelined Topeka,

People who question evolution shouldn’t be treated as “crackpots,” and their concerns should be addressed seriously as states consider new science standards for public schools, an elected Kansas official said Tuesday during a preliminary discussion about the work on new guidelines.

Ken Willard, a member of the Kansas State Board of Education, described a draft of proposed science standards as “flawed” because of how it treats evolution. Kansas, 25 other states and the National Research Council are developing common science standards for possible adoption for their schools[,] and the draft, made public last month, describes evolution as a well-founded, core scientific concept.

Willard … distributed a nine-page letter criticizing the draft multistate standards from the group Citizens for Objective Public Education Inc., which lists officers in Florida and Kansas. The letter suggested that the draft standards ignore evidence against evolution, don’t respect religious diversity and promote secular humanism, which precludes God or another supreme being in considering how the universe works.

“I hope that it will be taken seriously and not as just information from a bunch of crackpots,” Willard said. “Anybody who deigns to take a questioning position regarding anything to do with evolution is pretty well named to be a crackpot or a kook of some sort.” …

Anne Lassey, the group’s vice president …, said it formed in March because members believe public schools aren’t neutral in teaching topics touching on religion. She said it wasn’t aware at the time of the work on the science standards but will now follow the debate. Its letter said the group represents parents, children and taxpayers, and Lassey said it has members across the nation.

I will be interested in learning precisely how Ms. Lassey thinks that a religious approach to a scientific topic is “objective.”

The assignment from Florida Citizens for Science? Find out as much as possible about COPE before it invades Florida; they did a quick Web search and found nothing. COPE is not listed, for example, in Guidestar and Charity Navigator, which could mean that COPE is too new or is not a nonprofit. The National Center for Science Education, meanwhile, has just posted this information:

But Citizens for Objective Public Education is not exactly a well-known or a well-established group; its vice president Anne Lassey told the Associated Press that it was founded only in March 2012. Lassey is the wife of Greg Lassey, who was one of the authors of the so-called minority report of the committee that revised Kansas’s state science standards in 2005; the report systematically deprecated the scientific status of evolution. The group’s president, Jorge Fernandez, is a self-proclaimed young-earth creationist, with publications to his credit in Journal of Creation and on the True.Origin Archive website. The letter claimed that Citizens for Objective Public Education represents “children, parents and taxpayers who share our views”; Lassey told the Associated Press that the group has members across the nation.

NCSE notes further that Kansas is a “lead state partner” in the development of the science standards. The state board of education now has a majority that is friendly to the teaching of genuine science (read: evolution), but it seems possible that 6 of the 10 seats on the board could become vacant by the time the standards are considered.