Education policy in Kansas

Robert Lawless robert.lawless at
Thu May 29 17:34:24 UTC 2008

Once again we have the urban legend repeated that in August 1999 the Kansas 
state board of education banned the teaching of evolution. Let me be clear. 
The board has no power to dictate what is taught in Kansas public K-12 
schools; that is ultimately decided by the local school districts. What the 
board does is set the state-wide tests. Questions over evolution are 
actually a minuscule part of these state science tests. What the 
conservative-dominated board did in 1999 was to remove these questions. 
Their action had no discernable effect on the teaching of evolution, and 
the questions were reinstated when the board membership changed in August 2000.

At 11:11 AM 5/29/2008, Harold Schiffman wrote:
>Education policy in Kansas
>Yes... Kansas, famous for its ban on teaching evolution (in fairness
>to the state, evolution has been reinstated), has a school doing
>something questionable again. A parochial school has established an
>English-only policy in the school. When I originally saw this, I
>wasn't opposed. I know that most of the bilingual education programs
>here in the US aren't very good -- the students end up never really
>mastering either language. This education misses the point, anyway:
>English is the language of economic opportunity. We need to guarantee
>that our students have mastered it.*
>Then I close read it, and I'm not sure it's legal. It's one thing to
>enforce an English-only policy in the classroom, it's another to
>expect it at recess or in the cafeteria. (and we're not going to get
>into the whole "a teacher was concerned that students were talking
>about her in Spanish other than to say that someone is insecure.) I
>don't think that's enforceable. It may not be legal. (I don't know the
>legal precedents they discuss in the article.) I'm going to watch this
>to see how it turns out.
>*Keep in mind that I am not saying that there shouldn't be bilingual
>education programs or that local languages-- Cajun French, in
>Louisiana, Spanish, Native American languages-- shouldn't be taught,
>it's just that we need to rethink teaching practices.
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