Science Standards for Kansas Schools Promote Atheism?

Kansas State Board of Education

TOPEKA: On September 26, 2013, Citizens for Objective Public Education, Inc. (COPE) filed suit in federal court against the Kansas State Board of Education and the Kansas State Department of Education to enjoin implementation of science standards designed for all students in the US. The original complaint from COPE contends the science standards, as they relate to evolution, aren’t religiously neutral because they permit “only materialistic/atheistic answers to ultimate religious questions.” Plaintiffs in the suit include eight families with children enrolled in Kansas public schools and a family that represents Kansas taxpayers.

In 2013, they indicated in the Complaint that the Kansas Board’s adoption on June 11, 2013, of A Framework for K-12 Science Education and the Next Generation Science Standards “will have the effect of causing Kansas public schools to establish and endorse a non-theistic religious worldview” in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Without comment, the high court rejected COPE’s petition that challenged the science standards as they relate to evolution and climate change. After the appeals court agreed with U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree that opponents of the standards had no standing to sue because they could not show an injury, COPE had asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review their complaint. The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to review a Kansas nonprofit group’s lawsuit.

Jim McNiece, Chairman of the Kansas State Board of Education, is glad about the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on that lawsuit. “I’ve been very supportive of inquiring, research-based, project-based science education which is what the Next Generation Science Standards are about.”

Also, he believes that parents are the primary educators of their children especially when it comes to concepts about creationism. “It’s not about giving you answers,” McNiece continued. “The new standards are about you understanding the processes that lead you to answers about what’s happening in the world.”

State board member Carolyn Campbell, D-Topeka, who voted for the science standards three years ago, said she is very happy that Supreme Court aren’t going to take this case. “I struggle to understand how people can decide that the science standards are promoting atheism or just whatever their thoughts are. We’re just trying to educate our children so that they have a well-rounded understanding of science,” she added.

Photo Credits: Kansas State Board of Education

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