The Kansas State Board of Education voted Tuesday to adopt a multi-state science curriculum that gives new emphasis to evolution and climate change science in K-12. Developed by 26 states over the past two years, the Next Generation Science Standards include teaching climate change science to children as young as middle school. Kansas, Rhode Island, and Kentucky have already approved them.
Creationists have cried foul, and one state representative distrusts education standards as a whole because he viewed them as a form of federal overreach. At a school board meeting that discussed Common Core reading and math and Next Generation Science Standards, state Rep. Allan Rothlisberg compared these education benchmarks to the IRS, which is under scrutiny for targeting Tea Party groups.
“We’ve seen in the news lately, obviously with the IRS spying on us,” Rothlisberg told the Lawrence Journal-World. “Why on Earth would we expect the (U.S.) Department of Education — which is not constitutionally authorized — to look out for our children? That’s our responsibility.” Rothlisberg serves on the House Education Budget committee.
While the board approved the standards by a firm majority, 8–2, Kansas lawmakers have worked to move science backward in the state. Even though Article 6 of the Kansas Constitution says the state board has authority over public education, the Kansas Senate passed a bill last month to block funding for both Common Core standards and Next Generation Science Standards, which ended in a narrow defeat in the House. If it had passed, it would have resulted in a lengthy lawsuit to determine which branch had authority. This spring, the Kansas House Education Committee also introduced a bill that eventually died in committee mandating that teachers question the scientific basis of global warming in the classroom.
More states are moving ahead with approval, even as elected climate deniers and creationists threaten they may respond with anti-science legislation.