The anti-evolution, non-profit organization, Citizens for Objective Public Education, is suing the Kansas State Board of Education for instituting a science curriculum that teaches evolution. The lawsuit aims to block the board, education commissioner Diane DeBacker and the Kansas Department of Education from implementing new educational benchmarks, called the “Next Generation Science Standards.” Although developed and implemented by 26 other states, these benchmarks have been met with fierce opposition from those opposing the teaching of climate change and evolution.
Citizens for Objective Public Education claims that the new system promotes atheism, “to cause students to embrace a non-theistic worldview,” and thus violates the separation of church and state. “The state’s job is simply to say to students, ‘How life arises continues to be a scientific mystery and there are competing ideas about it,’” said John Calvert, an attorney involved in the lawsuit. Calvert also founded the Intelligent Design Network. The lawsuit claims that the new system is “leading very young children to ask ultimate questions about the cause and nature of life and the universe ... and then using a variety of deceptive devices and methods that will lead them to answer the questions with only materialistic/atheistic explanations.” The Citizens group alleges that the standards are serving to “indoctrinating” young pupils from kindergarten.
"By the time you get into the third grade, you learn all the essential elements of Darwinian evolution," Calvert said. "By the time you're in middle school, you're a Darwinist."
The Kansas Education Board voted to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards by an 8-2 vote in June, 2013 breaking with the state's long history of anti-evolution sentiment, and in particular with its 2005 decision to approve standards that were skeptical of Darwinian evolution. The state has had six different science standards in the last 15 years, fluctuating with the gaining or loss of board majorities by socially conservative Republicans.
“Anything not Promoting their Religion is Promoting some other Religion”
The Peck-based nonprofit organization is joined in its lawsuit by 15 parents from across the state with a total of 18 children — most of them in public schools — and two taxpaying citizens from the Kansas City-area community of Lake Quivira. The parents assert that they are Christians wanting instill beliefs in their children that "life is a creation made for a purpose."
Education and legal experts have denounced the lawsuit as “frivolous” and carrying no weight in the legal community. Joshua Rosenau, programs and policy director for the Oakland, California-based National Center for Science Education, said "They're trying to say anything that's not promoting their religion is promoting some other religion.”
Director of the University of Kansas' science education center, Steven Case, said that past rulings indicate the new lawsuit "won't hold up.”