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Another example of biased reporting has again misrepresented the August decision by the Kansas Board of Education to mildly de-emphasize the teaching of evolution in its public schools. Columnist John D. Altevogt of the Kansas City Star newspaper shares his opinion about an article/editorial that appeared in the January 26, 2000 issue of the Hutchinson News in Kansas….
Yet another editorial held out as “news.” In addition to the heavy dominance devoted to the evolution side (Mary Brown gets two short comments), the article promotes the usual canards.
The article is reprinted in its entirety below exactly as it appeared in the Hutchinson News (KS) on January 26, 2000.
Evolution-creation debate turns up heat—McPherson College professor says dispute is one of words
By Clara Belden Kilbourn—The Hutchinson News
McPHERSON—Even with freezing cold temperatures outside, they could have turned down the thermostat Tuesday in McPherson College’s Mingenback Auditorium.
The evolution vs. creation debate, ignited last year by the state Board of Education, became a heated topic again. State board members Val DeFever of Independence and Mary Douglass Brown of Wichita squared off in a debate before students in a January interterm class on evolution.
“I knew it would be lively,” said Professor Jonathan Frye, who arranged the debate.
A public invitation swelled the class of 19 to a crowd of 70.
Brown, and those who voted with her, axed the original standards written by a 27-member team of college and public school science teachers and others, which redefined science standards for Kansas students.
“If they had said evolution is a theory, and explained what `theory’ was, I would have been prone to vote yes,” Brown said. “Why is this such a big fight?”
DeFever said the Fordham Foundation, which evaluates standards writings, notified the board that the original document would have received one of the highest ratings among state standards.
A second standard, favoring creationism, which the board approved 6 to 4, “gutted the document” by removing almost every reference to evolution, foundation members said.
“The revisions came from a group wanting their own agenda in the aspect of education and not concerned about improving science,” DeFever said. A citizens’ writing group, connected with the Creation Science Association for Mid-America, enlisted board member Steve Abrams of Arkansas City to present an alternate document. Over the summer, three board members prepared their own set of science standards, based on the work of the citizens’ group. That was the document accepted last August by six members of the 10-member Board of Education.
DeFever, who supported the original document, said she expects “well-informed voters” to end the split on the state board in the next election.
“This is science,” DeFever said of the standards. “I live my religion every moment of my life, but when I came to this vote it had nothing to do with religion.”
Brown blamed the media for negatively depicting the issue. McPherson College student Seth Good of Hershey, Pa., said the board had “muddled” the issue of explaining biology by bringing in too many arguments.
Another student, Renata Lichty of Quinter, said that, in her opinion, “God created the world through evolution.”
“This makes Kansas look ignorant,” she said.
Frye said his class tied together the diverse fields of biology and philosophy of religions.
“It’s one of the neat things about being at a private liberal-arts school,” he said. “I’ve learned many things in the two areas, including how creationists think and what they think.”
He called the standoff an argument over words, not limited to the board’s debate but one that also carries over to coffee-shop discussions.
“I have no conceptual problem,” Frye said, “with harmonizing evolution and my religious beliefs.”
© 2000 The Hutchinson News