NSTA and NAS Withhold Copyright and Call for Improved Science Standards for Students of Kansas; AAAS Adds Statement of Support

In a joint statement released last week, NSTA and the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) asked the Kansas State Board of Education (KSBE) to refrain from referencing or quoting from publications by the two organizations in the state's science education standards. The KSBE sought copyright permission to use portions of the National Science Education Standards, published by NAS, and Pathways to the Science Standards, published by NSTA, in the Kansas Science Education Standards (KSES).

“Most of the draft Kansas standards could serve as a model for other states to emulate,” said NSTA Executive Director Gerry Wheeler. “But because of serious errors related to the theory of evolution, we had no choice but to say no and to encourage the Board to improve these standards for the sake of its students.”

In a letter sent to the KSBE, NSTA President Mike Padilla noted that the inaccuracies related to evolution “compromise the Kansas State Board of Education’s (KSBE) stated vision and mission for these Standards, not to mention all of science.” He also noted that, “the standards, as currently written, will result in Kansas students being confused about the scientific process and ill-prepared both for the rigors of higher education and for the increasingly technological and scientific challenges we face as a nation.”

Also in the letter, NSTA wrote, “We do not maintain that science is superior to other ways of understanding our world nor do we think that scientific inquiry is inconsistent with a theological search for answers. Rather, there are profound differences between these ways of knowing and failure to understand them will put the students of Kansas at a competitive disadvantage as they take their place in the world.”

NAS and NSTA offered to work with the board to resolve these issues so the state standards could use text from the NAS and NSTA publications. The Board is scheduled to vote on the Standards at its next meeting on November 8-9.

To read the NSTA letter to the Kansas State Board of Education, visit http://www.nsta.org/kansasletter. To read the letter from the National Academy of Sciences and the joint statement, go to http://national-academies.org.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) also issued a statement supporting the decision to withhold copyright permission. “AAAS is extremely concerned that the proposed standards misrepresent both the content and the standing of evolution as a scientific organizing principle,” said Alan I. Leshner, the association’s chief executive officer. To view the full statement, visit http://www.aaas.org/news/releases/2005/1027kansas.shtml.

National news organizations reported on story. An article in The Washington Post quoted Gerry Wheeler as saying, "Science is not a dance card or jukebox where you can choose the songs you want," Wheeler said. "It's about what is the best explanation for the observations and the data we have. It's about the facts." To read the full article, visit http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/10/27/AR2005102701999.html. To read a New York Times article by Jodi Wilgoren, visit http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/28/science/sciencespecial2/28kansas.html.

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