On 1 August 2006, voters in Kansas went to the polls to select party candidates for various state and federal offices, including the highly politicized state board of education. Five seats on the ten member board are up for grabs this November.

Among the various hotly debated issues in each of the board of education primary contests was the state's 'science standards.' As most in the science community are well aware, in 2005 the Kansas board of education voted 6-4 to redefine science so that supernatural phenomena, such as intelligent design/creationism, could be taught in the state's science classrooms.

The five board primaries included one democratic and four republican contests. After the dust settled, a democrat and two moderate republican candidates opposed to the 2005 standards won their races. Two conservative republican incumbents that helped craft the standards retained their parties slot to run in November. As most Kansas political observers have noted, the outcome of the primary suggests that regardless of who wins in the November elections, candidates opposed to the 2005 anti-evolution standards are poised to hold at least a two seat majority on the board. Optimistic science education advocates also note, however, that the two conservative incumbents that support the 2005 standards will face challengers in November. If the challengers won either or both of these races, the "pro-science" board majority would be larger than two votes.

In a press statement released following the primary, AIBS president Kent Holsinger said, "This appears to be a great outcome...when scientists, educators, parents and the business community come together to explain the value of quality science education, everyone benefits. People want students to get the best education possible so that they will be able to compete for quality jobs. The lesson for the science community is that we must recommit ourselves to making sure that every American understands the nature of science."

To read the complete press release, please go to http://www.aibs.org/position-statements/20060802_biologists_resp.html.

 


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