conway photo Lovely Conway, South Carolina

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But the Kansas State Board of Education, reinforcing that state's increasingly wacky reputation, took an aggressive, if not dubious, policy step. At the risk of re-igniting the same nationwide squabble it sparked several years ago, the Kansas board approved new public school science standards that cast doubt on the theory of evolution. The 6-4 vote was a win for ID advocates who interestingly helped draft the standards. (ID holds that the universe is so complex it must have been created by a higher power.) Critics of the language charged that it was an attempt to inject God and creationism into public schools in violation of the separation of church and state. "This is a sad day. We're becoming a laughingstock of not only the nation, but of the world, and I hate that," said board member Janet Waugh, a Kansas City Democrat. And rightly so, for the vote marked the third time in six years that the Kansas board has rewritten standards with evolution as the central issue. In 1999, the board eliminated most references to evolution, a move Harvard paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould said was akin to teaching "American history without Lincoln." Two years later, after voters replaced three members, the board reverted to evolution-friendly standards. Elections in 2002 and 2004 changed the board's composition again, making it more conservative. And now this.

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