Kansas schools will now actively teach evolution and climate change in grades K-12 after the state school board approved the new science standards on Tuesday.
The board voted 8-2 for standards developed by Kansas, 25 other states and the National Research Council. The standards support a shift to emphasis on science in classes and doing hands-on experiments and projects.
Most teachers support the measure, as science standards in Kansas schools have often been debated, especially over how evolution should be taught.
"I can concentrate on teaching processes - teaching kids how to think like scientists," Cheryl Shepherd-Adams said, who teaches physics. "I'm more concerned whether they can design and analyze an experiment. That's what science is all about."
This was the first time that evolution and climate change was not heavily debated amongst the board members. While there was some criticism, it was not nearly as vocal or public as it was in the past.
The board includes Democrats and moderate Republicans. One board dissenter, Ken Willard, criticized the standards for lacking objectivity.
"Both evolution and human cause of global climate change are presented in these standards dogmatically," he said. "This nonobjective, unscientific approach to education standards amounts to little more than indoctrination in political correctness."
At a public comment session on Tuesday, Rex Powell, a retired Spring Hill business consultant, said the standards promote "an atheistic world view."
"They are standards for religious indoctrination rather than objective science education," he said.
Others, including Fred Hereen, say the new standards are reflective of mainstream science and distinguish it from "carnival science."
He is a member of Climate Parents, a group that advocates the teaching of climate standards to children.
"Climatology and climate change should be prioritized because of the condition of the world and because of our contribution to a changing climate," he said. "If there's controversy there, it's important to get more good information, not less."