It’s not often that we get good news when it comes to science education here in Kansas. Frankly, I’m still reeling from our flirtation with pre-19th century thinking on evolution. (In 2007 we dispensed with that silliness. But oof. It still stings.) However, today I can come to you with good news. Last week, the Kansas State Board of Education passed some new science standards, and they are actually pretty good.
The science standards in question – known as the Next Generation Science Standards – are a collaborative effort of 26 states, Kansas included. In a nutshell, the NGSS is designed to let students do science, not just memorize facts. It gives students the opportunity to apply facts to specific circumstances, which leads to a deeper understanding of the topic.
The standards passed 8-2, with two conservative Republicans voting against it. One of those nay votes, Republican Ken Willard, thinks that, under the new standards, evolution and human-caused climate change will be, you know, taught like the facts that they are. According to the San Fransisco Chronicle:
“Both evolution and human cause of global climate change are presented in these standards dogmatically,” Willard said. “This nonobjective, unscientific approach to education standards amounts to little more than indoctrination in political correctness.”
It’s political correctness gone mad! The science standards are incorporating actual science! Schools are no place for dogma or unscientific drivel, says the creationist.
But that’s not all! These standards also promote the worst thing in the entire world: atheism.
During a public comment session Tuesday, Rex Powell, a retired Spring Hill business and organizational consultant, said the new standards promote “an atheistic world view.” Powell is a member of Citizens for Objective Public Education, which formed last year to contest the new standards.
“They are standards for religious indoctrination rather than objective science education,” Powell said.
Listen. Science is just another way for the devil to get inside your kids’ heads so he can turn the youth against Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Unless you’re not Christian to begin with, then you’re just wrong and need to learn to be Christian. Or something. The thing about science is that it’s amoral. It doesn’t have an opinion. It’s a method of understanding the world. In fact, it’s the best method we have. It’s yielded incredible results. Like my ability to type this post from my couch while watching Doctor Who on Netflix. We know it’s right because it works. Willard misunderstands this. According to the Topeka Capitol-Journal:
“These standards are very heavy on methodology and light on science knowledge,” he said.
Knowledge of science trivia means nothing without knowledge of the methodology. It’s not hard to understand. Sigh.
Even though there were a couple of haters, the NGSS passed overwhelmingly, which hopefully signals that we’re done with science denial. In addition, a group of Kansas parents called Climate Parents presented 2,500 signatures in support of the standards. I’ll admit, as a Kansas resident and science enthusiast, I’m buoyed.
Not every state is on the right path. Louisiana, for example, failed to repeal a law earlier this year that allowed for creationism to be taught in public schools.
However, some states have tried to infuse science denial into classrooms by legislative fiat, but failed. Oklahoma came perilously close to passing its own “academic freedom” bill, which, as Mother Jones put it, would allow students to “make untestable, faith-based claims in science classes without fear of receiving a poor mark.” Colorado also failed to advance a piece of science denying legislation. Other bills bit the dust in Arizona and Indiana.
All of these defeats are certainly encouraging, but we can’t get complacent. After all, the Creation Museum has added zip lines in the hopes of snagging up all the hip and with-it kids.
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