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Teaching evolution

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Abstract

The decision by the Kansas Board of Education, on August 11, to delete evolution from the state's school science curriculum was a blow to science education and, therefore, to science. Regardless of how appalling the decision is, expressions of shock and disapproval are not the most effective response.

What is needed from scientists, including AGU members, is long-term, dedicated, and concerted involvement in education at the state and local level. Creationists won in Kansas, have won in other states, and may continue to win elsewhere, because they care enough and are sufficiently organized to get elected or appointed to school boards. Unfortunately, there is often a tendency among scientists to overlook, or be less involved in, issues that may not be perceived as of immediate or direct importance. The deplorable decision by the Kansas Board of Education may reflect a situation in which those who were too busy to participate in local politics had a limited effect on the decision process. Science education in Kansas will suffer, as it has in other states. We need to recognize that science education must not start at the university/college level. Active involvement by scientists in state and local politics has made a difference in some states in thwarting attempts by creationists to profoundly modify science curricula as well as placing educated individuals on school boards.

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