Evolution attackers lose grip on power

11th August 2006 at 01:00
The reign of fundamentalist Christian opponents of evolution over Kansas schools is over - for now, at least.

Two of the conservative Republicans who last year crafted new state standards for science teaching that were widely seen as the most sweeping assault yet on evolution in schools, were swept from office in elections last week.

The results handed the balance of power on Kansas's State Board of Education to political moderates who consider a grounding in evolution essential to pupils' scientific literacy. They have vowed to revoke the standards imposed by the religious right.

Those ousted included Connie Morris, who in a public newsletter last year referred to the "age-old fairytale of evolution", calling it "biologically, genetically, mathematically, chemically, metaphysically... utterly impossible".

Democrat board member Bill Wagnon said rescinding the standards, which caused uproar among scientists and teachers, was a high priority. The standards direct teachers to identify supposed flaws in evolution and redefine science in a way experts have said opens the door to "supernatural" explanations.

The evolution controversy made last week's election uncharacteristically lively, as it took place in a glare of publicity with candidates sporting campaign war chests, Mr Wagnon said. But he warned that the pendulum could easily swing back to creationists in future elections.

Last week's poll is just the latest instalment in a saga dating back to 1998, in which creationists have alternated with mainstream party representatives for control of the board.

"It's only when extreme behaviour is exhibited that the public wakes up and pays attention," added Mr Wagnon.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today