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Lawsuit challenges Kansas science education standards

The Citizens for Objective Public Education (COPE) [advocacy website] on Thursday filed [press release, PDF] a federal lawsuit [complaint, PDF] to block the Kansas State Board of Education [official website] from implementing new science standards in education. In June, over strong objections from COPE, the Kansas Board adopted new guidelines promoting the teaching of scientific evolution and other natural explanations. COPE claims that these new standards will lead students to adopt mechanistic and atheistic views on the world. This, the organization asserts, is in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendment [Cornell LII backgrounders].

This is not the first time the Kansas Board of Education has seen controversy regarding its fluctuating scientific standards. In 2007 the Board repealed [NBC report] science guidelines that questioned the accuracy of evolution. This act removed language adopted in 2005, requiring [JURIST report] that students understand not only evolution, but also suggestions that life is too complex to have evolved without help from a higher power. In 1987 the US Supreme Court ruled in Edwards v. Aguillard [opinion] that states may not mandate public schools to teach creationism in order to balance evolution lessons.

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