Kansas State Board of Education candidates on the issues: Theory of evolution and concept of intelligent design

Kansas Board of Education District 2 candidates weigh in on evolution theory versus intelligent design in classrooms. Above, Rising Star Elementary students explore STEM through Thermo Fisher's hands-on learning lessons. Photo courtesy Kristie Darby.

Last month, we asked our readers what issues they wanted to hear the candidates running for office address ahead of November’s general election. Based on the input we received, we developed a five-item questionnaire for candidates running for Kansas State Board of Education District 2.

We’ll be publishing the candidates’ responses to one item per day each day this week. Today we’re publishing the candidates’ responses to item #3:

The state board of education has in the past debated whether it’s appropriate to teach the concept of intelligent design along with theory of evolution. What are your views on what should and should not be taught to Kansas students in this regard?

Melanie Haas (Democrat)

Intelligent design is a theory with secular religious roots. It has no basis in factual science and therefore does not have a place in our science classrooms. The facts of evolution have been proven through hundreds of scientific studies at the micro- and macro-evolutionary level and evolution is settled science. Our students (Christian and not) deserve a secular, fact-based public education. There is, potentially, room for including a discussion around intelligent design but strictly through a cultural and anthropological lens. It should not occur in the science classroom but instead within a curriculum that is examining the diverse religious beliefs around the world. By exposing our children to different cultures and belief systems, we can encourage tolerance and mutual respect. Far too often, it is the unknown — the fear of that which is different — that creates so much misunderstanding and hate. Our education system can and should play a vital role in bridging these gaps that divide us.

Benjamin Hodge (Republican)

Did not respond.

Tomorrow we’ll publish the candidates’ responses to item #4:

The world that Kansas public school students will graduate into in the coming decades is likely to be very different than the world today. What skills and experiences should Kansas K-12 education be providing students to prepare them for an uncertain future?