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Anna Harvey, a bright, straight-A sophomore in Lawrence, Kansas, raised her hand in biology class one day in early 1999. "Mr. Roth, when are we going to learn about creationism?"Stan Roth exploded. "When are you going to stop believing that crap your parents teach you?" Anna was stunned, and within five months Roth was removed from the classroom. Some say the irascible high-school teacher was about to be fired anyway; others wonder if it was mere coincidence that, three months after he was forced to retire, the Kansas Board of Education voted 6-4 to de-emphasize the speculative aspects of evolution& amp;mdash;a move that sparked a national debate.Other states reacted swiftly. In Kentucky, education officials replaced the word evolution, which had been added to the guidelines for the first time last spring, with an earlier locution: change over time. The New Mexico Board of Education went the other way, revoking 1996 standards requiring teachers to "present the evidence for and against" evolution, and reverting to a one-sided presentation. Oklahoma's State Textbook Committee inserted a disclaimer into science books stating that evolution is controversial (identical to a disclaimer in Alabama textbooks)& amp;mdash;a decision later struck down by the attorney general. Kanawha County, West Virginia, voted down a resolution permitting teachers to present "theories for and against the theories of evolution." Similar brushfires continue burning in other states. Small wonder that the Associated Press voted the Kansas controversy the state's top story of 1999.Oddly, similar controversies had erupted in several other places not long before& amp;mdash;California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Oregon, and Washington. Yet ...

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We're Not in Kansas Anymore
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May 22, 2000

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