The new guidelines reflect mainstream scientific views of evolution and represent a political defeat for advocates of "intelligent design," who had helped write the standards that are being jettisoned. The intelligent design concept holds that life is so complex that it must have been created by a higher authority.
The board removed language suggesting that key evolutionary concepts are controversial and being challenged by new research, and approved a new definition of science that limits it to the search for natural explanations of what's observed in the universe, reports CBS Radio affiliate WIBW in Topeka. The new guidelines are the fifth set of science standards for Kansas public schools in eight years.
Also approved was a new definition of science, specifically limiting it to the search for natural explanations of what is observed in the universe.
"Those standards represent mainstream scientific consensus about both what science is and what evolution is," said Jack Krebs, a math and technology teacher who helped write the new guidelines. He is also president of Kansas Citizens for Science.
The state uses its standards to develop tests that measure how well students are learning science. Although decisions about what is taught in classrooms remain with 296 local school boards, both sides in the evolution dispute say the standards will influence teachers as they try to ensure that their students test well.
John Calvert, a retired attorney who helped found the Intelligent Design Network, said under the new standards, "students will be fed an answer which may be right or wrong" about questions like the origin of life.
"Who does that model put first?" he said. "The student, or those supplying the preordained 'natural explanation'?"
There have been debates or legal battles in several other states over evolution and the intelligent design argument, but none has inspired comedians' jokes or parodies like Kansas' ongoing battle has.
Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" had a four-part "Evolution Schmevolution" series in 2005, and hearings that year drew journalists from Canada, France, Britain and Japan.