News from the National Academy of Sciences

A Statement of Support for the Kansas Board of Education's Decision To Adopt New Science Standards for K-12 Students in Kansas

American Association for the Advancement of Science
National Academy of Sciences and National Research Council
National Science Teachers Association

February 14, 2001

Our organizations join together to applaud the Kansas State Board of Education for its courageous decision to overturn the actions of the previous Board and reinstate the study of the origins of life and the cosmos to the state science standards.** We commend the members of the team that prepared the science standards both for their collective decision to disavow the revised standards that were accepted by the previous board and for their continued work to prepare the latest version that the Board of Education has just adopted. We especially applaud the actions of the citizens of Kansas, who debated the previous Board's decision and then elected members to the Board who had declared publicly their intention to reinstate these critical scientific ideas to their science standards.

Students in Kansas once again will have the opportunities to explore and understand what have become important foundations of modern life, earth, and physical sciences and will be better prepared to be productive members of our increasingly scientific and technological world.

Our examination of the recently approved science standards has convinced us that this document embraces modern science and is consistent with national efforts to improve science education. These standards can and should serve as a model for other states that are considering revising their own standards. We are pleased and enthusiastic in now granting copyright permission to reference or use text from our documents in the Kansas Science Education Standards.

Mary Good
President
American Association for the Advancement of Science

Bruce Alberts
President
National Academy of Sciences
(and on behalf of the members of the
Council of the National Academy of Sciences)

Arthur Eisenkraft
President
National Science Teachers Association

** By way of background, we provide this recap of the matter: On September 23, 1999 the Presidents of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Science Teachers Association, and the Chair of the National Research Council issued a joint statement denying the Kansas State Board of Education copyright permission to reference or use text from our documents in Kansas' revised science standards. Our decision was based on the previous Board's decision to approve science standards from which topics related to the origins and evolution of the cosmos, earth, and life on earth had been removed or substantively revised. A copy of that statement is appended.

Our response to the actions by the majority of members of the Board of Education was one of many voices of protest that arose from the education and scientific communities. Those protests emphasized that studying the origins and evolution of the physical and biological universe has long been an accepted and respected component of scientific investigation. Based on compelling evidence, the overwhelming majority of scientists and science educators accept evolution as the most reasonable explanation for the current diversity of life on earth and the set of processes that has led to this diversity. Scientists and theologians also agree that scientific and religious explanations for the evolution of the earth and life on this planet are not incompatible. By removing critical and well-accepted scientific explanations for the origins and changes in the living and physical worlds from the state science standards, students in Kansas would have been denied opportunities to explore and understand what have become important foundations of modern life, earth, and physical sciences.

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