The State Board of Education approved the latest draft of the standards Tuesday, with only a few minor changes, and agreed to hire outside experts to review the draft.
The board doesn’t expect to review the standards again until October, when it could take a final vote.
Several of the board’s six conservative and four moderate members repeated either the praise or the concern for the standards that they’ve discussed for months, and Tuesday’s key vote followed that 6–4 division.
Moderate board member Bill Wagnon of Topeka argued unsuccessfully that the debate over evolution should be resolved in a research lab and not at the board table or a high school classroom.
“It strikes me that this whole debate is out of place,” Wagnon said.
The board paid little attention to criticisms from the committee that wrote the first draft.
Most of that 25-person committee of educators, professors and a doctor strongly objected to the criticisms of evolution that conservative board members inserted in the standards over the last two months. Eight members of the committee pushed for those criticisms to be included.
The board did grant the committee members’ request to have their names removed from the standards.
The standards will now be sent to Mid-Continent Research for Education and Learning, a Denver-area think tank, for review.
Those experts will consider whether the standards reflect the best academic standards and whether they are specific enough for teachers to use, among other issues.
Such reviews are standard procedure for all state teaching standards. Mid-Continent was the sole bidder for the work.
Steve Case, the University of Kansas professor who led the standard-writing committee, and Pedro Irigonegaray, the Topeka lawyer who represented evolution proponents at the board’s hearings, raised the allegations in a midday news conference.
They said John Calvert, the retired lawyer who runs the Intelligent Design Network, violated ethical standards, and possibly criminal laws, because he is not licensed to practice law in Kansas.
“This brings into question the veracity, the accuracy and the truthfulness of this entire process,” Irigonegaray said.
The process will drag on.
The proceedings were presented with the appearance of a legal process, people raised objections and called witnesses (though not under oath). If Calvert presented himself as a lawyer when he isn’t licensed, he should be held accountable.
The definition of the practice of law is established by law and varies from one jurisdiction to another. Whatever the definition, limiting the practice of law to members of the bar protects the public against rendition of legal services by unqualified persons.
I’m not saying he did anything wrong, but I certainly had the impression that he was a lawyer and that’s why there needed to be a lawyer to “represent” science and “cross-examine” witnesses.