WELCOME BACK, KANSAS....

WELCOME BACK, KANSAS. My prayers, and those of other heathens like me, have apparently borne fruit, for, on Tuesday, the great State of Kansas rejoined the reality-based community when two opponents of the theory of evolution were effectively ousted from the Kansas Board of Education. The results appear to have tipped the board in favor of teaching science in the science curriculum of the Kansas public schools, in lieu of a faith-based explanation of the origins of the human species.

The standards for the teaching of science in Kansas have been revised three times since 1999, when right-wing candidates won control of the state-level school board and set about the work of discrediting the theory of evolution and other scientific theories regarding the origins of the cosmos. One can only hope that the fourth time will prove the charm.

Now, before liberals, and others who believe knowledge to be a good thing to disburse in schools, go wild doing the happy dance, it is important to note that Tuesday's vote in Kansas had a very low turnout, even for a primary election. Also as noteworthy, however, is the fact that political organizing by those who wanted to end the incursion of religion into the Kansas science curriculum may have helped to tip the balance. From Monica Davey and Ralph Blumenthal in today's New York Times:

It is not clear, however, that the Kansas vote necessarily reflected a widespread change in thinking around the state. The overall turnout in Tuesday�s election was 18 percent, the lowest here in at least 14 years, a fact some local political experts attributed to low-key races statewide and painfully steamy weather.

Several groups that favored the teaching of evolution had worked to turn out moderate voters. The groups included the Kansas Alliance for Education, which raised more than $100,000 to campaign against the current majority and the science guidelines, and Kansas Citizens for Science.

In his piece for the Associated Press, John Hanna also reminds us that in an Atlanta suburb, the fight is on to slap stickers on the school district's biology texts that declare evolution to be "a theory, not a fact." The AP story also notes that "[a] poll by six news organizations last year suggested about half of Kansans thought evolution should be taught alongside intelligent design."

--Adele M. Stan

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