Lawsuit would block climate change, evolution curriculum in Kan.

Lawsuit filed in Kansas to block climate change, evolution curriculum

Posted: Updated:
The Kansas state school board in June approved new science standards for public schools that treat both evolution and climate change as key concepts to be taught from kindergarten through the 12th grade. (AP) The Kansas state school board in June approved new science standards for public schools that treat both evolution and climate change as key concepts to be taught from kindergarten through the 12th grade. (AP)
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -

An anti-evolution group filed a federal lawsuit Thursday to block Kansas from using new, multistate science standards in its public schools, arguing the guidelines promote atheism and violate students' and parents' religious freedom.

The group, Citizens for Objective Public Education, had criticized the standards developed by Kansas, 25 other states and the National Research Council for treating both evolution and climate change as key scientific concepts to be taught from kindergarten through 12th grade. The Kansas State Board of Education adopted them in June to replace evolution-friendly standards that had been in place since 2007.

The new standards, like the ones they replaced, reflect the mainstream scientific view that evolution is well-established. Most board members believed the guidelines will improve science education by shifting the emphasis in science classes to doing hands-on projects and experiments.

The nonprofit organization based in the small community of Peck, south of Wichita, was 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 taxpayers from the Kansas City-area community of Lake Quivira. The parents say they're Christians who want to instill a belief in their children that "life is a creation made for a purpose."

"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, a Lake Quivira attorney involved in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit is against the state board, its 10 members, Education Commissioner Diane DeBacker and the state Department of Education. Neither DeBacker nor board Chairwoman Jana Shaver immediately returned telephone messages seeking comment.

Calvert was a key figure in past Kansas evolution debates as a founder of the Intelligent Design Network, contending that life is too complex to have developed through unguided evolution. Joshua Rosenau, programs and policy director for the Oakland, Calif.-based National Center for Science Education, said Calvert has been making such an argument for years and "no one in the legal community has put much stock in it."

"They're trying to say anything that's not promoting their religion is promoting some other religion," Rosenau said, dismissing the argument as "silly."

The case is the latest chapter in a long-running debate in Kansas over what to teach students about 19th century naturalist Charles Darwin's theories on evolution and scientific developments since. Kansas has had six different sets of science standards in the past 15 years, as conservative Republicans skeptical of evolution gained and lost board majorities.

The lawsuit argues that the new standards will cause Kansas public schools to promote a "non-theistic religious worldview" by allowing only "materialistic" or "atheistic" explanations to scientific questions, particularly about the origins of life and the universe. The suit further argues that state would be "indoctrinating" impressionable students in violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution's protections for religious freedom.

Calvert said the new standards are particularly troubling because students would start learning evolutionary concepts in 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."

Kansas uses its standards to develop statewide tests given to students each year to judge how well schools are teaching, which in turn influence what happens in classrooms. New tests could take up to four years to develop.

The lawsuit suggests that if the federal court won't block the standards completely, it could bar the state from implementing standards dealing with the origins of life and the universe until high school and require schools to incorporate "adequate and reasonably complete information" about those topics afterward.

The information included in the lawsuit is reminiscent of material skeptical of evolution inserted at the urging of Calvert and other intelligent design proponents in science guidelines adopted by a conservative-led State Board of Education in 2005.

Steven Case, director of the University of Kansas' science education center, said previous court rulings suggest that the new lawsuit "won't hold up."

"This is about as frivolous as lawsuits get," Case said.

  • Top StoriesMore>>

  • New D.E.A. prescription drug restrictions

    New D.E.A. prescription drug restrictions

    Friday, August 22 2014 11:37 PM EDT2014-08-23 03:37:29 GMT
    Managing your chronic pain could prove to be a tougher process starting this fall. The federal government is stepping up restrictions for prescribing hydrocodone.The new restrictions are part of an effort to cut down on abuse and dependency.
    Managing your chronic pain could prove to be a tougher process starting this fall. The federal government is stepping up restrictions for prescribing hydrocodone.The new restrictions are part of an effort to cut down on abuse and dependency.
  • Jim Thorpe awards gala celebrates courage in Oklahoma City

    Jim Thorpe awards gala celebrates courage in Oklahoma City

    Friday, August 22 2014 11:32 PM EDT2014-08-23 03:32:34 GMT
    True courage in the face of adversity was awarded Friday night at the annual Integris Jim Thorpe Rehabilitation Center Courage Award Gala. The event was held at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.
    True courage in the face of adversity was awarded Friday night at the annual Integris Jim Thorpe Rehabilitation Center Courage Award Gala. The event was held at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.
  • Oklahoma war correspondent, professor, remembers slain journalist

    Oklahoma war correspondent, professor, remembers slain journalist

    Friday, August 22 2014 10:58 PM EDT2014-08-23 02:58:09 GMT
    Scenes from veteran war correspondent and Oklahoman Mike Boettcher's film the Hornet's Nest show the violence and chaos of war.It documents the dangers for troops overseas and the reporters that cover them."People think we're addicted to war or we're addicted to conflict. Really, I think, I'm not," Boettcher said.This week, Boettcher is remembering a friend and colleague James Foley---brutally executed at the hands of ISIS in Syria."He was just a very calm guy. And there is a certain trait th...
    Scenes from veteran war correspondent and Oklahoman Mike Boettcher's film the Hornet's Nest show the violence and chaos of war.It documents the dangers for troops overseas and the reporters that cover them."People think we're addicted to war or we're addicted to conflict. Really, I think, I'm not," Boettcher said.This week, Boettcher is remembering a friend and colleague James Foley---brutally executed at the hands of ISIS in Syria."He was just a very calm guy. And there is a certain trait th...
  • More HeadlinesMore>>

  • Security breach hit 25,000 federal workers

    Security breach hit 25,000 federal workers

    Saturday, August 23 2014 12:23 PM EDT2014-08-23 16:23:58 GMT
    WASHINGTON (AP) -- A Homeland Security Department official says a recent computer breach at a major government security clearance contracting firm may have affected the internal files of as many as 25,000 of the agency's workers.
    WASHINGTON (AP) -- A Homeland Security Department official says a recent computer breach at a major government security clearance contracting firm may have affected the internal files of as many as 25,000 of the agency's workers.
  • New D.E.A. prescription drug restrictions

    New D.E.A. prescription drug restrictions

    Friday, August 22 2014 11:37 PM EDT2014-08-23 03:37:29 GMT
    Managing your chronic pain could prove to be a tougher process starting this fall. The federal government is stepping up restrictions for prescribing hydrocodone.The new restrictions are part of an effort to cut down on abuse and dependency.
    Managing your chronic pain could prove to be a tougher process starting this fall. The federal government is stepping up restrictions for prescribing hydrocodone.The new restrictions are part of an effort to cut down on abuse and dependency.
  • Man reportedly calls 911 when stripper won't sleep with him

    Man reportedly calls 911 when stripper won't sleep with him

    Friday, August 22 2014 5:50 PM EDT2014-08-22 21:50:06 GMT
    A man who was allegedly refused sex by a stripper called 911 to report her.
    A man who was allegedly refused sex by a stripper called 911 to report her.
  • FOX25 Slideshows

  • FOX 25 FeaturesMore>>

  • Tell Me Something Good

    Tell Me Something Good

    Tired of all the bad news? Looking for some good news? Tell Me Something Good, does just that! FOX 25's Mike Brooks finds the good in Oklahoma and tells you all about it.
    Tired of all the bad news? Looking for some good news? Tell Me Something Good, does just that! FOX 25's Mike Brooks finds the good in Oklahoma and tells you all about it.
  • Waste Watch

    Waste Watch

    How are your tax dollars being spent? FOX 25 Waste Watch tracks whether local, state and federal governments, or any groups, are using your money wisely... or wasting it.
    How are your tax dollars being spent? FOX 25 Waste Watch tracks whether local, state and federal governments, or any groups, are using your money wisely... or wasting it.
Powered by WorldNow
Powered by 

WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and KOKH. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.