The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

Posts Tagged ‘Kansas’

Creationists in Kansas Come Full Circle: They File a Lawsuit Against the Teaching of Evolution

Posted by mattusmaximus on September 28, 2013

Have you ever heard that phrase: truth can be stranger than fiction?  Well, the topic of this blog post seems to fit that statement.  In the history of creationism vs. evolutionary science, there have been all kinds of shenanigans played by creationists in their attempts to promote their religion as science; in the beginning, this often took the form of outright bans against the teaching of evolution.  In fact, it was just such a state ban in Tennessee that led to the now famous Scopes Monkey Trial in 1925.

Well, here we are nearly nine decades after that opening salvo in the creationist/evolution battles, and creationists in Kansas are taking a page from the old (and I mean OLD) playbook… they are filing a lawsuit to stop the implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards (since the NGSS promotes the teaching of evolution, which they claim “promotes atheism and materialism”).  Read this report from the National Center for Science Education for more details:

Anti-NGSS lawsuit filed in Kansas

Are the Next Generation Science Standards unconstitutional? A complaint filed in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas on September 26, 2013, alleges so. The complaint inCOPE et al. v. Kansas State Board of Education et al.contends (PDF) that the NGSS and the Framework for K-12 Science Education (on which the NGSS are based) “will have the effect of causing Kansas public schools to establish and endorse a non-theistic religious worldview … in violation of the Establishment, Free Exercise, and Speech Clauses of the First Amendment, and the Equal Protection Clauses of the 14th Amendment” (pp. 1-2). The plaintiffs ask for a declaratory judgment in their favor and for an injunction prohibiting the implementation of the NGSS in Kansas or, failing that, an injunction prohibiting the implementation of the sections of the NGSS to which they object.

NCSE’s Joshua Rosenau told the Associated Press (September 26, 2013) that it was a familiar argument, but “no one in the legal community has put much stock in it.” He added, “They’re trying to say anything that’s not promoting their religion is promoting some other religion,” and dismissed the argument as “silly.” Steven Case, director of the University of Kansas’s Center for Science Education, concurred, citing previous court rulings as evidence that the new lawsuit “won’t hold up.” “This is about as frivolous as lawsuits get,” Case told the Associated Press. The Kansas state board of education voted 8-2 to accept the Next Generation Science Standards on June 11, 2013, as NCSE previously reported, and the lawsuit is evidently attempting to undo the decision. … [emphasis added]

I would like to speak to Josh Rosneau’s comment that I put in bold above; this really is the kind of thinking employed by creationists.  They believe that you’re either with them or against them, and there’s no such thing as a grey area within their black and white thinking.  Therefore, if you are not actively promoting their religious beliefs, then you are by default promoting the opposite of their religious beliefs which is atheism.  Never mind that one can hold religious beliefs, even adhere to Christianity, and still accept evolutionary science; these creationists think that there can be no room at all for modern science within their belief system.  So, if they view science as the enemy – as arch-creationist Ken Ham and his followers appear to believe – then science must be fought at every turn.  Hence stupidity like this lawsuit…


Of course, I have no doubt that this lawsuit will go down in flames, as it should.  And I have no doubt that it will prove to be yet another embarrassing blow to the creationist movement, maybe becoming as famous as the Dover vs. Kitzmiller trial a few years ago.  But I also have no doubt that these creationists will not stop there; they will attempt to thwart every effort to teach good science in our public schools.  And because of that fact, we must be ever vigilant.

Posted in creationism, education | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Evolution and Climate Change Come to Kansas

Posted by mattusmaximus on June 14, 2013


The state of Kansas has been a high-profile hotbed of creationist activity for quite some time, with battles over state science standards including (or not including) even a mere mention of evolution and, in recent years, climate change.  The strategy on the part of creationists goes as follows: if we aren’t allowed to teach creationism, specifically one brand called young-earth creationism, then we’ll make it so that nobody can learn evolution, either.  Global warming deniers are also employing a similar strategy in many states.

Of course, in the budding 21st century, if enough states in the United States allow creationists and global warming deniers to drive the discussion, then this is a recipe for disaster in terms of our nation’s capability to generate well-educated young students who are ready to tackle the looming scientific and technological challenges of our age.

Enter the Next Generation Science Standards, which Kansas has recently adopted (mostly because they helped to actually write the standards), that mandate the teaching of both evolution and climate change in a manner which is broadly interwoven into the curricula of public school science classes…

Kansas science standards: Schools to teach evolution, climate change

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – The Kansas state school board Tuesday approved new,  multi-state science standards for public schools that treat both evolution and  climate change as key concepts to be taught from kindergarten through the 12th  grade.

The State Board of Education voted 8-2 on for standards developed by Kansas,  25 other states and the National Research Council. The new guidelines are  designed to shift the emphasis in science classes to doing hands-on projects and  experiments and blending material about engineering and technology into  lessons.

WEIGH IN: Discuss this story on Facebook

“I can concentrate on teaching processes — teaching kids how to think like  scientists,” said Cheryl Shepherd-Adams, who teaches physics at Hays High School  and traveled to Topeka to publicly endorse the new standards as vice president  of Kansas Citizens for Science. “I’m more concerned whether they can design and  analyze an experiment. That’s what science is all about.”

Past work on science standards in Kansas have been overshadowed by debates  about how evolution should be taught. The latest standards were adopted in 2007  and treat evolution as a well-established, core scientific concept, but Kansas  law requires the academic standards to be updated at least once every seven  years.

Though the new standards drew some criticism over their treatment of  evolution, it wasn’t anywhere as vocal or public as in the past. Together,  Democrats and moderate Republicans control the board, and social conservatives  wanting to inject skepticism of evolution into the standards were likely to have  found little support.

The same political factors blunted criticism of the standards’ proposed  treatment of climate change as an important concept that should be part to  lessons in all grades, rather than treated separately in upper-level high school  classes…

There has been some pushback from certain political quarters, which tend to be ideologically aligned with creationists and climate change deniers, that these standards are taking away states’ rights.  Nothing could be further from the truth, seeing as how the NGSS are NOT a federal mandate because they were written by states who volunteered to put them together.  So, if anything, the NGSS is actually strongly in favor of states rights!

Looks like public science education in the United States might just finally be evolving 🙂

Posted in creationism, education, global warming denial | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Help Get a New, Grassroots Skeptic/Atheist Conference Started… in the Bible Belt!

Posted by mattusmaximus on February 17, 2012

My skeptical colleague Phil over at the Skeptic Money blog is attempting to get donations to the newly-formed Wichita Coalition of Reason in Kansas to hold their first FREE event – The Skeptics of Oz!

By the way, did I mention the event was FREE?!  Yes, that’s F-R-E-E!!!

But Phil is doing more than that.  Phil is literally putting his money where his mouth is because for the next week (that is, until February 25th) his company, Polaris Financial Planning, will be matching donations to help get this group and their event off the ground.  Read more below (or at Phil’s blog entry), spread the word, and please consider donating…


Welcome to the official The Skeptics of Oz website. This is a FREE conference that will be held in Wichita, KS on April 21st and 22nd at The Forum Theater. We will be bringing in a number of speakers to talk on the subjects of science, skepticism, and atheism. Stay tuned for more information!

Registration is open! There is limited seating so please register so we know if you are coming!


Skeptics of Oz will feature several exciting speakers.

  • James UnderdownJames Underdown
    Investigation and Conversation: Dealing with Paranormal Claims
    Executive Director of the Center for Inquiry-Los Angeles
  • J Anderson ThomsonJ Anderson Thomson
    Why We Believe in Gods
    Staff psychiatrist at the University of Virginia Student Health Services and the Institute of Law, Psychiatry and Public Policy at the University of Virginia
  • Darrel RayDarrel Ray
    Sex and Secularism Author, speaker, and organizational psychologist
  • Abbie SmithAbbie Smith
    Graduate student studying evolution of viruses
  • Carol FioreCarol Fiore
    Grieving without God
    Environmental educator, writer, animal rights activist
  • Amadnda KniefAmanda Knief
    Atheism in the Workplace
    Government Relations Manager at Secular Coalition for America and cofounder of Iowa Atheists and Freethinkers
  • Phil FergusonPhil Ferguson
    Homeopathy – The Power of 10
    Blogger at Skeptic Money, evangelical atheist, and owner of Polaris Financial Planning.
  • James CroftJames Croft
    Good Without God
    Research and Education Fellow at the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard

Posted in skeptical community | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

U.S. Chamber of Commerce: Put Climate Science “On Trial”

Posted by mattusmaximus on September 1, 2009

According to this article from the LA Times, the biggest business lobby in the United States wants to hold a “trial” concerning global warming science…

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, trying to ward off potentially sweeping federal emissions regulations, is pushing the Environmental Protection Agency to hold a rare public hearing on the scientific evidence for man-made climate change.

Chamber officials say it would be “the Scopes monkey trial of the 21st century” — complete with witnesses, cross-examinations and a judge who would rule, essentially, on whether humans are warming the planet to dangerous effect.

“It would be evolution versus creationism,” said William Kovacs, the chamber’s senior vice president for environment, technology and regulatory affairs. “It would be the science of climate change on trial.”

What a joke!!!  It is ironic that Kovacs mentioned evolution & creationism, for reasons you’ll see below.  Folks, this is ludicrous on so many levels…

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in global warming denial | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

%d bloggers like this: