The battle over the adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) has flared up in a new state – Kansas.
The NGSS standards are a nationwide attempt to improve science education in the US, and they have been backed by organizations such as the National Research Council, National Science Teachers Association, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. But because they include the mainstream, science-based views on evolution and climate change, the standards faced public opposition in Kentucky that forced the governor to intervene to get them approved.
A handful of other states have adopted the standards. The most surprising is Kansas, which has an awkward pastwhen it comes to science education. The state booted evolution from its science standards at least twice in the last few decades. But Kansas’ approval of the NGSS standards may have been the calm before the storm. Since that, the state Republican Party has called for their withdrawal, and now a lawsuit has been filed that claims the standards’ focus on natural causes will violate students’ religious freedom.
Earlier this month, the state’s Republicans passed a series of resolutions regarding education. In general, these resolutions (which targeted basic literacy and math education in addition to science) focused on the loss of local control involved in adopting standards that were developed by national organizations and meant for widespread use. In fact, the GOP would like to “prohibit adoption of any standards that require the state to cede any measure of control over their drafting and revision.” These mention the NGSS standards by name, and theLawrence Journal-World notes that “the standards were opposed by some because they treat evolution of species as a fact and offer no discussion of religious-based theories such as creationism or intelligent design.”
Why do people cling to ancient ignorant superstitious explanations of human life? Is it because religious stories protect the mind from concern about death? That could be part of it but also, I blame the nonintuitive nature of self organizing systems. Life, amazingly complicated and mysterious, seems magical, doesn’t it? Thus, some seek a magician.