Kansas School Board has copyright withheld over teaching Intelligent Design

Monday, October 31, 2005

Kansas has been denied permission to use two key documents commonly used in the writing of science education standards for states, the National Science Education Standards (published by the National Research Council) and Pathways to Science Standards (published by the National Science Teacher Association). The respective organizations argued that they could not grant the state of Kansas permission to use these documents in the current form of the Kansas Science Educational Standards, as these overemphasize controversy between the scientific theory of Evolution and the argument of Intelligent Design. Moreover, the organizations criticize that the standards in their current form distort the definition of science. The American Association for the Advancement of Science has expressed its support for the decision to deny Kansas the use of copyrighted material, as “the proposed standards misrepresent both the content and the standing of evolution as a scientific organizing principle”.

Proponents of Intelligent Design have characterized the refusal as “an effort to censor the discussion of scientific criticism of Darwinian theory by intimidation and threat”.

This is likely to further delay the ratification of the final vote on the Kansas Science Educational Standards as they will have to be rewritten either to not violate any copyright restrictions or modify their account of evolution and outlook on science. According to University of Kansas professor Steve Case, rewriting the standards will be very difficult, as “there is copyrighted material on every page” of the current document.

This is the second time that Kansas was denied the right to use copyrighted materials in their state standards, following the case in 1999, when Kansas included Creationism, a precursor of Intelligent Design, into the school curriculum. A later school board overturned that directive.

The dispute in Kansas has brought nationwide responses, ranging from a rebuke by the American Association for the Advancement of Science to the creation of internet-sensation Flying Spaghetti Monster mythology (which is lobbying the Kansas School Board to give equal time teaching their creationism theory as well.)

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