"We do not claim that design necessarily trumps evolution. We simply say that to do good science, we should be permitted to consider all the evidence and allow the evidence to drive our conclusion, rather than an Orthodoxy."
— John Calvert
K-12 Science Education Standards
A 20-Year Overview from 1999 to 2019
Public K-12 Origins Science Education in the US has changed dramatically over the last twenty years. It has gone from isolated discussions of materialistic evolution in high school biology to incremental, progressive, comprehensive and deceptive materialistic indoctrination throughout the child’s entire 13 years of K–12 public education.
In the 1990’s and early years of the 21st Century, States developed their own standards based on models provided by the National Academy of Science (NAS) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
Those models typically did not address origins science until the 8th or 9th grade. For the most part origins science education was limited to Darwinian evolution in a 9th or tenth grade class in biology. None of the models except the Kansas Standards explicitly embraced Methodological Naturalism (MN), although all of them implicitly employed that doctrine. They all limited uncritical explanations about where we come from to only materialistic/atheistic causes.
Most of the work of IDnet from 1999 involved efforts to replace the materialistic orthodoxy of MN with objectivity. Objectivity in speculative historical origins science is necessary if the curricula is to approach the religious neutrality that is constitutionally required.
This page very briefly summarizes the efforts of IDnet and others to do that in Kansas in 2000-2001 and again in 2004-2005. The battle over the Kansas 2005 standards was significant and intense. The documents referenced below show in detail each step in a process started in 2004 that led ultimately to the adoption of objective standards on November 11, 2005 and then their replacement in February 2007. The replacement occurred after a successful campaign in July and August of 2006 by the materialists to change the composition of the State Board of Education from a 6-4 conservative majority to a 6-4 liberal majority. Each of the major steps in the process is documented. The actual process to establish objectivity is also comprehensively explained in a book published in 2008: The Silenced Hearings. The steps and book collectively show the methods, evidence and arguments developed by the parties on each side of the debate.
The parties were on the one hand the materialistic science establishment supported by national science organizations, universities, mainstream liberal media, and non-theists, and on the other, by scientists, philosophers, educators, theists and a few agnostics seeking objective k-12 public origins, behavioral and social science.
The conflict began in Kansas in 1999 when members of IDnet objected to Kansas Science Standards that for the first time in the country’s history explicitly incorporated MN into K-12 Science Education Standards. Their efforts were initially successful, but later reversed when the State Board changed from conservative to liberal.
The conflict arose again in 2004 when the Kansas State Board sought to further update the Science Standards. In December 2004, the Board was presented with two views about how origins science should be taught. A minority of 8 members of the 27 member Kansas Science writing committee (The Harris Group) suggested changes to the Kansas Standards that would teach students objectively our scientific knowledge about the origin of life and its diversity. A majority of the writing committee (the “Krebs Group”) had developed standards that were based explicitly on methodological naturalism, which permits only materialistic/atheistic answers to questions about where we come from. Rather than objective, the draft of the Krebs Group provided a blue print for the indoctrination of children in a non-theistic religious worldview rather than objective historical origins science.
The Kansas Board, consisting of ten elected residents of Kansas, concluded that they could not resolve the issues that divided the two groups without the testimony of experts. Accordingly, they adopted resolutions calling for six days of public hearings, during which both sides could present expert witnesses in an effort to resolve the conflicts between the two proposals.
The Harris Group, led by biochemist William Harris, PhD, a founder of IDnet, presented a list of 23 expert witnesses, 18 of which held PhD’s. The list included 4 philosophers of science, 4 biochemists, 3 chemists, 2 microbiologists, 2 geneticists, 1 biologist, 1 theoretical quantum physicist, 1 physiologist, 3 science teachers, a Muslim journalist and one Constitutional lawyer. After receipt of that List, the Krebs Group chose to oppose the Harris Group witnesses by boycotting the hearings instead of presenting opposing experts. Thus the strategy of the “science majority” was to use character assassination rather than evidence to make their case. The strategy was supported and aided by national science organizations, universities and the liberal media. It was described here by the director of Media Relations for the Krebs Group:
“My strategy at this point is the same as it was in 1999: notify the national and local media about what's going on and portray them in the harshest light possible, as political opportunists, evangelical activists, ignoramuses, breakers of rules, unprincipled bullies, etc…..”
Instead of calling scientists to oppose the case for objectivity, the Materialists engaged an ACLU lawyer to ineffectively cross examine the highly credentialed, articulate, knowledgeable and respected scientists and educators. It was an attempt to further demean them in the eyes of unknowledgeable voters, rather than to deal with any relevant evidentiary issue. A reading of The Silenced Hearings and other documents posted on this page, will make clear the scientific, educational and legal failure of that strategy.
The hearings were held in an auditorium in Topeka, the state capitol. It was packed with reporters and TV crews from around the world. The Silenced Hearings and the items posted below show the proposed objective revisions and the testimony and credentials of each of the 23 witnesses who testified in their favor.
Legal briefs furnished to the Board regarding the legality of the objective and materialistic standards, included a brief arguing for the Harris proposals, an opposition brief and a reply brief. After considerable debate the objective standards were adopted by the Board on November 9, 2005. However, one month later a Pennsylvania Federal District Court held in Kitzmiller vs. Dover Area School District that a school district policy that permitted a discussion of the evidence that leads to an inference of design and that questions the strength of materialistic accounts of evolution were religious and not science. The court reached this conclusion because it viewed criticisms of a materialistic theory of origins was inconsistent with methodological naturalism. A year later, on February 13, 2007, after the composition of the Kansas State Board was changed from a conservative majority to a liberal majority, the objective standards adopted on November 8, 2005, were summarily replaced with the originally proposed materialistic standards. See The Final Chapter, p.85 of The Silenced Hearings.
An extensive law review article published in 2009, Kitzmiller's Error, argues that the unappealed ruling in Kitzmiller is unconstitutional as it is based on an exclusive theistic definition of religion rather than the inclusive definition used by the U.S. Supreme Court and other courts. The article explains that when the inclusive definition is used, the objective origins science policy is constitutionally necessary to render the curricula religiously neutral. Nevertheless, the ruling has had an effect of further stifling debate and entrenching materialism in the public school system.
New National K-12 Science Education Standards
In an effort to unify all K-12 public education in the US around a single set of national standards, an initiative was begun in 2010 to have every U.S. state adopt a single set of standards for each major subject. The first set of proposed common standards were the Common Core State Standards for English and Math ("CCSS). These were released for adoption by states on June 2, 2010. By November 2013, with help from the US Department of Education, a total of 45 states and the District of Columbia had adopted the CCSS in both subjects.
Following on the success of the math and English standards, the National Research Council published in 2012 a 400 page “Framework for K-12 Science Education” developed by a consortium of scientists and educators. The Framework is essentially a plan for the establishment of a materialistic set of K-12 national science education standards for every child in the U.S. Per the plan of the Framework, a draft of Next Generation Science Standards was published for public comment in the spring of 2012.
A year prior to the publication of the Framework, Citizens for Objective Public Education was organized. COPE’s mission is to promote objectivity in public school curricula that address religious questions so that the educational effect of the teaching is religiously neutral. As a consequence, COPE began to focus on the proposed Next Generation Science Standards. Its first ten page analysis and criticism was published on June 1, 2012. It concluded that unlike the existing standards, the NGSS begin the materialistic indoctrination in origins science in Kindergarten and then continue it for the next thirteen years in each grade, incrementally, progressively, comprehensively and deceptively. Although COPE urged the drafters of the NGSS to make objective changes that would delay the teaching of origins science until students had the necessary knowledge and cognitive maturity to reach an informed decision, the recommendations in the June letter and a subsequent letter in January of 2013 were ignored.
Kansas was the second state in the Country to adopt the Framework and NGSS in June of 2013. In order to stop the propagation of the Standards before they could be implemented COPE, 17 parents and 21 children filed a complaint on September 26, 2013 in Federal District court seeking to enjoin the implementation of the origins science provisions of the NGSS. After three years of motions and appeals, even to the Supreme Court, the complaint was ultimately dismissed on a procedural issue in November 2016 without predjudice to a refiling of the case on the merits of its claims.
Since its formation COPE has systematically tracked the progress of state adoptions of the NGSS and non-NGSS science standards. As of January of 2019 it shows that 43 states have adopted the NGSS in its entirety or with generally insignificant modifications. A law review article published in 2018, The Absence of Religious Neutrality in K-12 Public Science Education, explains why the origins science provisions of the NGSS are not constitutional. To achieve constitutionality it suggests that states and schools implement the following changes to the NGSS, which are more elaborately set out in the law review article at page 650-654:
(1) Students should be informed of the religious issues that arise from the questions the science curriculum lead them to ask: where do we come from? What is the cause and nature of life?
(2) Origins Science should only be taught to age-appropriate audiences, where students are cognitively mature, knowledgeable and have already formed their worldviews at home.
(3) Origins Science should be an elective as neither the teleological or materialistic explanations are consistent with origins narratives contained in some religious texts.
(4) Students should be taught to know and understand that the Question of Origins is an unsolved mystery – a case not closed that may never be scientifically closed.
(5) The Standards should require that the purpose, use, and effect of use of the materialistic orthodoxy be adequately explained to age-appropriate students who receive Origins Science instruction. This includes adequate instruction about the evidence and logical inferences from the evidence that tend to support or contradict the orthodoxy and the evidence based teleological inference it bans.
(6) Teach the difference between historical and experimental science and the method of reasoning employed by both.
(7) Require that Origins Science Curricula strive to teach students the actual state of our scientific knowledge about origins as defined by Daubert v. Merrill Dow without application of any orthodoxy.
(8) Require that curriculum be posted on websites made available to parents, students and taxpayers.
The prayer at the end of the COPE complaint against the NGSS contains a more detailed list of requirements for objectivity.
This page also documents below the activities of IDnet in Pennsylvania in 2005, in Montana in 2005, In Minnesota in 2003 and 2004; in New Mexico in 2003, in West Virginia in 2003; and in Ohio in 2002.
Actions taken by IDnet in a number of states prior to the establishment of Next Generation Science Standards:
Kansas Science Standards, 2004-2005
IDnet Press Release regarding adoption of Kansas Science Standards on November 8, 2005
Science Education Standards Adopted by the Kansas State Board on November 8, 2005
Reply of Authors of Minority Report, dated September 27, 2005, to: the Kansas State Board of Education
September 9, 2005, letter of Elie Wiesel and 37 other Nobel Laureates criticizing changes to the Kansas Science Standards and urging the Board to vote against them.
One page summary of changes added by the Kansas State Board, as of August 9, 2005.
Comprehensive summary of Revisions added by the Kansas State Board to Draft 2(c) of Science Standards, as of July 12, 2005
Opposition to the Revisions filed by a Majority of the Science Writing Committee August 2, 2005
Definitive Reply to Opposition to the Revisions filed with the Board on August 8, 2005
Reply of Jonathan Wells, PhD to certain claims made by the Opposition to the Revisions, dated August 1, 2005
Suggested Finding of Fact and Conclusions of Law Filed with the Science Committee on May 26, 2005 by Counsel for the Authors of the Minority Report
Opposition Brief Filed May 26, 2005 [Repair by replacing link with this file: Irigonegaray May 26 letter.pdf]
Reply of John H. Calvert, Esq. to Opposition Brief, dated June 6, 2005
List of Witnesses Who Testified on May 5, 6 & 7 for the Minority Report
Letter of transmittal, dated March 29, 2005, recommending favorable consideration of Proposed revisions to Draft 2 of Kansas Science Standards, dated March 9, 2005
Proposed Revisions to Kansas Science Standards Draft 2, with Explanations, dated March 29, 2005. (Marked generally in blue to show areas of substantive change from the proposals dated December 10, 2004).
Remarks of Greg Lassey regarding Draft 2 of the Minority Report to the Kansas State Board of Education on April 13, 2005
Remarks of John H. Calvert, Esq. regarding hearings about the Minority Report to the Kansas State Board of Education on April 13, 2005
IDnet Press Release dated December 10, 2004: Members of Science Standards Committee Urge Objectivity in Origins Science
Letter of transmittal, dated December 10, 2004, recommending favorable consideration of Proposed revisions to Draft 1 of Kansas Science Standards, dated October 28, 2004 that were delivered to the Board on December 7, 2004
Proposed Revisions to Kansas Science Standards Draft 1, with Explanations, dated, December 10, 2004
Remarks of John H. Calvert, Esq. to the Kansas Science Writing Committee on October 28, 2004, regarding the Constitutionality of Standards that promote the philosophy of Naturalism.
Who Can Answer My Question? This two-minute skit demonstrates a fundamental problem with a naturalistic definition of science.
Remarks of John Calvert to the Education Committee of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives on June 20, 2005
Kansas Science Standards, 1999 – 2001
Kansas Curricular Standards for Science Education. Adopted December 7, 1999.
Kansas Science Education Standards, Sixth Draft of Science Writing Team, December, 2000.
Black Lined Copy of Kansas Science Education Standards (item 1 above) Showing Changes Reflected in the Draft of the Science Writing Team (item 2 above,) dated December, 2000
IDnet Commentary and Proposed Revisions to Kansas Science Education Standards, Sixth Draft of Science Writing Team – December, 2000.
Response of the Writing Committee to the Cover Letter and Document Prepared by the Intelligent Design Network, dated January 30, 2001.
IDnet Letter to Kansas State Board of Education dated February 8, 2001, Urging the Board to Keep Naturalism out of Kansas Science Standards and Responding to Comments of the Science Writing Committee
Montana Objective Origins Science Policy and Legislation:
Remarks of John Calvert to the Montana Legislature Regarding Legislation that Misinforms about Kansas Science Standards, dated February 6, 2005
Objective Origins Science Policy Adopted by Darby Montana School Board
Minnesota Science Standards
Minority Letter to The Honorable Cheri Pierson Yecke, Ph.D., the Commissioner of Education, dated December 7, 2003.
Subject: Minnesota Science Standards Minority Report A Call for Common Ground on Evolution, Not Polarization. From: Duane Quam, Kathryn Duffield, Dave Eaton, and Heather McKinley, members of the Science Writing Committee.
Memorandum supporting the Minority Report, by John H. Calvert, Esq. on behalf of parents having students enrolled in Minnesota Public Schools, dated January 23, 2004.
Testimony of John H. Calvert, Esq. before the Minnesota Senate Education Committee on January 23, 2004 in support of the Minority Report.
New Mexico Science Standards
Final New Mexico Science Content Standards, Benchmarks and Performance Standards (Approved August 28, 2003)
Actions taken to move New Mexico Science Standards towards objectivity in origins science (August 28, 2003).
West Virginia Science Standards
IDnet letter to West Virginia Department of Education, dated January 6, 2003, commenting on Proposed West Virginia Science Policy 2520.3 which provides Science Content Standards and Objectives for West Virginia Schools.
Summary of Suggestions and Implementing of Recommendations for Proposed West Virginia SCIENCE – POLICY 2520.3, dated January 6, 2003
Reply of IDnet to Report of Lawrence Lerner regarding the IDnet Letter dated January 6, 2003.
Ohio Science Standards
February 4, 2002 Report on Comments on the Modifications.
Press Release regarding February 4, 2002 Report on Comments on the Modifications.
Remarks of John H. Calvert, J.D. to the Science Standards Committee of the Ohio State Board of Education on January 13, 2002.
Memoranda From John Calvert to the Science Standards Committee of the Ohio State Board of Education, Regarding the Freiler Case, dated February 4, 2002
Letter from John Calvert to the Chairmen of the Science Standards Committee Regarding the Remarks of David Haury, Ph.D. on February 4, 2002, dated February 27, 2002.
Letter to Ohio State Board of Education by Representatives John Boehner and Steve Chabor regarding the effect of the Santorum Language in the provisions of the Conference Report that accompanied HR 1, The Leave No Child Behind Act of 2001, dated March 15, 2002.
Fifty-two Ohio Scientists Call for Academic Freedom on Darwin’s Theory, March 20, 2002.
Zogby Poll shows 78% of Ohioans Favor Teaching Intelligent Design, May 10, 2002.
Transcript of a Dialogue Between John Calvert, J.D., Managing Director of Intelligent Design network, inc. and Ray Vasvari, J.D., Legal Director of the ACLU of Ohio, as moderated by Walter Maripole, Host of the Civic Forum of the Air. on June 11, 2002, in Akron Ohio.
Response of Intelligent Design Network, Inc. to A Resolution by The Ohio Academy of Science
Memorandum of Jody Sjogren regarding Ohio Science Standards Vote on December 10, 2002, dated December 11, 2002
Memorandum dated December 19, 2002, from IDnet Managing Directors and Managers Responding to Resolution of the American Association for the Advancement of Science that seeks to Censor Intelligent Design
Sample of an HB 481 Policy for a School or School District