www.mozilla.com Weather Central
Voices
Headlines

Start by believing -4/22/2014, 10:09 AM

Talking taxes in Kansas -4/22/2014, 10:08 AM

The huge disconnect -4/22/2014, 10:08 AM

Legislation ridiculous -4/22/2014, 10:08 AM

Think about the future -4/22/2014, 10:08 AM

Indians get snookered -4/21/2014, 10:27 AM

Religion's unfair advantage unwarranted -4/21/2014, 10:27 AM

-4/21/2014, 10:27 AM

He is risen -4/20/2014, 2:20 PM

Anti-Semitism alive, dangerous in America -4/20/2014, 2:19 PM

Abolition of teacher tenure out of place -4/20/2014, 2:19 PM

Library award-winning -4/20/2014, 2:19 PM

Equality in discipline -4/18/2014, 7:57 AM

Earth daze -4/18/2014, 7:57 AM

Equal pay -4/18/2014, 7:57 AM

Receiving great care -4/17/2014, 4:09 PM

Unequal pay among genders -4/17/2014, 10:25 AM

Fighting for Kansas veterans -4/17/2014, 10:25 AM

School reductions -4/17/2014, 10:25 AM

Dress for safety -4/16/2014, 10:09 AM

Does losing due process create inadequacies? -4/16/2014, 10:09 AM

Hate crimes -4/16/2014, 10:09 AM

On with the prom -4/15/2014, 8:57 AM

Newman proud to be in western Kansas -4/14/2014, 8:57 AM

Waiting on revenue estimates -4/13/2014, 8:57 AM

Wake up, people, and see the danger we’re in -4/13/2014, 12:03 PM

Patronizing paychecks -4/13/2014, 12:03 PM

Stripping of teachers’ due process worrisome -4/13/2014, 6:11 AM

The Kansas Ministry of Truth -4/13/2014, 6:14 AM

Letterman, Hillary and Jeb: 21st Century symbols -4/13/2014, 6:10 AM

Expensive school bill -4/13/2014, 6:12 AM

How to assist evil -4/11/2014, 9:15 AM

Taxing life away -4/11/2014, 9:12 AM

Lying about Obamacare -4/11/2014, 9:17 AM

The talk radio party? -4/10/2014, 11:04 AM

Term limits -4/10/2014, 11:06 AM

Let's do what we do best -4/10/2014, 11:05 AM

Satisfying the court -4/9/2014, 10:45 AM

Late-night funding fight -4/9/2014, 10:44 AM

‘Farmland’ — art is life on screen -4/9/2014, 10:45 AM

Tradition not changing -4/8/2014, 12:02 PM

Flat as a pancake -4/8/2014, 11:22 AM

Willing to take a bet -4/8/2014, 11:24 AM

Exposure to violence threatens children’s future -4/8/2014, 11:23 AM

Battling MS -4/7/2014, 8:58 AM

Why Renewable Fuel Standard matters -4/7/2014, 9:23 AM

Rites and wrongs of spring -4/7/2014, 9:23 AM

Coming to terms with Brownback -4/6/2014, 2:11 PM

Are 'religious viewpoint' laws needed in schools? -4/6/2014, 2:11 PM

School non-funding -4/6/2014, 2:11 PM

Sex and race equality -4/4/2014, 8:08 AM

Rest of the story -4/4/2014, 8:08 AM

Bank on USPS to save 'bank deserts' -4/4/2014, 8:08 AM

Gambling and government -4/3/2014, 9:51 AM

Not merely water under the bridge -4/3/2014, 9:51 AM

Federal fine -4/3/2014, 9:51 AM

Twister time is here again -4/2/2014, 9:59 AM

School funding battle continues -4/2/2014, 9:59 AM

Watching for the flip-floppers -4/1/2014, 10:09 AM

Will Hays enter the 21st century? -4/1/2014, 10:09 AM

Tax breaks -4/1/2014, 10:09 AM

Hobby Lobby case a slippery slope -3/31/2014, 9:16 AM

Happy birthday, Gloria -3/31/2014, 9:16 AM

Unequal voting -3/30/2014, 11:37 AM

Protecting the pollinators -3/30/2014, 11:37 AM

Parties, politicians and seeking an advantage -3/30/2014, 11:37 AM

Healthy aging -3/30/2014, 11:37 AM

Threatened chicken -3/30/2014, 11:37 AM

As temperatures rise, pay attention to stored grain -3/30/2014, 3:49 PM

Bizarre arguments and behavior -3/28/2014, 10:06 AM

In your dreams -3/28/2014, 10:06 AM

Against the wind -3/28/2014, 10:05 AM

Discovering the salt of the earth -3/28/2014, 10:05 AM

Entrepreneurship key to economic growth -3/27/2014, 8:36 AM

Kansas goes Kremlin with arrests, secrecy -3/27/2014, 8:36 AM

Get ready for Arbor Day -3/26/2014, 2:03 PM

Reading between the lines -3/26/2014, 2:02 PM

Switching parties -3/26/2014, 1:53 PM

Putting a price tag on damages -3/25/2014, 10:13 AM

Privately piercing, serious sacrifice -3/25/2014, 10:13 AM

Autism bill passes House -3/25/2014, 10:13 AM

United stance -3/25/2014, 10:13 AM

Legislative session getting down to the end -3/25/2014, 10:12 AM

Taxation bill involving livestock successful -3/25/2014, 10:12 AM

STARBASE Day hits Topeka -3/24/2014, 10:13 AM

Judging based on accomplishments -3/24/2014, 10:14 AM

Who speaks for the voiceless? -3/24/2014, 10:14 AM

Fly Hays -3/23/2014, 1:12 PM

Learning from the candidates -3/23/2014, 1:12 PM

hedy -3/21/2014, 1:12 PM

-3/20/2014, 9:59 AM

Fred Phelps -3/20/2014, 9:59 AM

Is There Wage Stagnation? -3/20/2014, 9:58 AM

Cost of living, wages don't add up -3/20/2014, 4:01 PM

Legislative proposal raises questions -3/20/2014, 4:01 PM

No vote on war -3/19/2014, 3:32 PM

Wonder of St. Fidelis -3/19/2014, 4:01 PM

Protein for breakfast -3/19/2014, 2:58 PM

A pointed comment on guns -3/19/2014, 8:57 AM

Campaign madness -3/19/2014, 2:58 PM

myTown Calendar

SPOTLIGHT
[var top_story_head]

The cost of incivility I -- evolution

Published on -1/10/2014, 9:35 AM

Printer-friendly version
E-Mail This Story

2If the board had taken a vote at that emotionally charged moment, we might well have lost 10-0. I was a member of the Science Standards Committee that submitted the new standards that included the concept of evolution. We were facing an attempt to pull the evolution wording. And the 10-member KSBE was split, with five on each side.

Many citizens testified with dignity and civility on both sides. But two months later, we had a university science professor step up to the open forum podium. He followed a citizen who spoke on the creationist side. The professor began by saying, "Well, I guess I am the crap detector here." And the tone of his three-minute speech descended even lower.

I intercepted our "ally" in the hallway outside the board room and asked him what he thought he was doing, because he certainly was not helping our cause.

Ultimately, we lost. A sixth board member joined the anti-evolution side and passed the Kansas Science Standards, with evolution minimized. That sixth vote came, not because that retired superintendent from Haven converted to an anti-evolution stand, but because he believed too much of the scientists' testimony revealed an arrogant attitude that promoted teachers ramming the theory down students' throats.

This was a classic case of, "What you say is not as important as how you say it." We lost the first evolution battle of 1999 to 2000 not because the creationists had better arguments, but because our side was perceived as arrogant and uncivil.

We learned another lesson in that year of debate. When the science committee was presenting the standards to the KSBE, one of our representatives stated, "I don't think you have the best interest of Kansas students in mind." This was addressed to board member Scott Hill, who brought the exchange to an immediate halt with, "What did you say?"

You never question the intentions of an opponent. We just had committed another large sin in debate.

By the next KSBE meeting, there was a new plaque on the wall of the KSBE board room asserting the best interests of Kansas children come first in every board decision. For the next decade, the plaque stood as a reminder of the arrogance of at least one advocate on the science side of that debate.

The evolution concepts lost in 2000 were fully restored after the next KSBE election. Then in 2005, there was another round of pro- and anti-evolution debate as the Kansas science standards were updated.

Some members of the press reported the debate with integrity. Unfortunately, others sought to generate confrontation. Both the 2000 and 2005 episodes painted Kansas as hayseeds in the press nationwide despite Kansas biology teachers having the highest rate of evolution belief of any state surveyed.

There were sensitive science professors who represented their discipline with enthusiasm and respect. But there were others who were arrogant. During board meeting breaks, when an opposing board member had a serious question about entropy (science) or irreducible complexity (non-science), some scientists folded their arms and waited out the question just so they could tell the board member how stupid he or she was. It was a bad way to treat a board member -- or a student in a classroom.

Last year, the KSBE adopted nearly content-less national standards rather than return to state-revised science standards. I personally believe it was adopted, not because of its substance (it lacks little), but to avoid a return to uncivil Kansas science standards debates and the resulting press exposure. That is another price we pay for not having remained ladies and gentlemen.

John Richard Schrock is a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences

at Emporia State University.

digg delicious facebook stumbleupon google Newsvine
More News and Photos

Associated Press Videos

AP Breaking News
AP Nation-World News

View this site in another language.

Kansas News