A non-profit organization and a group of Kansas parents are suing over new public school science standards. Citizens for Objective Public Education, an anti-evolution advocacy organization, and Christian parents whose children attend public schools in Kansas filed a lawsuit to prevent the adoption of the new science standards. Plaintiffs state that if the new science programs are implemented, they will promote atheism and violate First Amendment rights.
The new scientific teaching standards are the result of an effort between more than 20 states, including Kansas, and the National Research Council. In the program, students would be introduced to concepts like evolution as early as kindergarten. Additionally, emphasis would be placed on projects and experiments as opposed to readings and lectures. The effort is aimed at getting kids interested in science.
However, the Citizens for Objective Public Education and their attorney, John Calvert, feel that there is another agenda operating below the surface. Calvert seems to feel that the agenda is an insidious one, having been quoted as saying that, “By the time you get into the third grade, you learn all the essential elements of Darwinian evolution … By the time you’re in middle school, you’re a Darwinist.” In his complaint, Calvert asserts that the science program pushes a “non-theistic religious worldview” on impressionable students without allowing room for alternative theories. According to Calvert, this violates First Amendment rights of both parents and students.
Joshua Rosenau, a representative of the National Center for Science Education, calls the lawsuit “silly,” going on to note that the plaintiffs are “trying to say anything that’s not promoting their religion is promoting some other religion.”
This is not the first time that scientific standards in Kansas public schools have come under fire. In fact, the state has adopted no fewer than six different sets of science standards in a 15 year period. The content of the standards changes as the relative liberalism or conservatism of local politicians changes. Although the current situation remains unresolved, it seems clear that this is just another step in the process toward finding scientific curriculum that adequately addresses student needs.
If you are a California school administrator with a question about student/teacher safety, special education, accommodations, student rights, free speech or discipline, or school employment law, feel free to call attorney Richard Oppenheim at 818-461-8500. There is never a charge for an initial consultation and we can help you choose the best direction to resolve any school district legal issue.