Evolution's Fight For Survival

The Kansas Board of Education approved standards that remove evolution as a topic on statewide assessment exams for high school students.

The board approved the compromise proposal on a 6-4 vote after more than two hours of debate.

The proposal places the question of whether or not to teach the theory in the hands of local school boards. Currently, the state has no list of topics that should be on the tests.

Educators are forming such a list, and it will likely include such topics as parts of the atom, genetics and forms of energy.

The debate centered on whether evolution should be included.

Earlier Wednesday, Scott Hill, a member of the Kansas State School Board, told Correspondent Russ Mitchell on CBS This Morning, "It's our job as a state board to not mandate to local districts a curriculum."

But he asserted, "It's our job to look at the things that are critical and essential for students to know and assess on those things."

Added Hill: "The broad encompassing fact of evolution and having it as the central unifying concept of all of science is not that important to have assessed at the state level."

Co-chairman of the Kansas Science Education Standards Writing Committee Loren Lutes maintained, however, it is important to teach kids about evolution. "We feel like our students ought to have the broadest range of science instruction that we can provide them in our schools."

"I was, I think, personally in a state of shock that here at the turn of the 21st century, that this issue is surfacing again," Unitarian Universalist Reverend David Grimm told CBS News Correspondent Cynthia Bowers.

Fundamentalists like Ed Johlman say, however, that "creation is the best explanation for how we got here." Johlman is part of a grassroots movement fighting the federal ban on the teaching of creation science in public schools. He and his wife home school their kids since they don’t think the evolution theory alone gives children a sufficient moral grounding.

"If we can teach creation, there is an order. There is a plan. You have a place in this world," said Janie Johlman.

But Reverend Grimm argued that mixing science and religion is bad for academic freedom. "There are lots parents in the state who are really opposed to this move on the religious right's part to take over the school board and to impose a religious theory and teach it as science."

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