School teachings on religion don't belong in science class.

Kansas, unfortunately, is closer to repeating forgettable chapters in history.

Evolution and its part in the state's science curriculum for public schools looks to again be the focus of unwanted controversy.

On two previous occasions, a state Board of Education dominated by ultra-conservative Republicans made Kansas the brunt of jokes by downplaying evolution as a way to incorporate creationism and other religious concepts into science standards.

And now, one BOE conservative apparently wants to go back in time.

Ken Willard, a Hutchinson Republican, said he's troubled by common science standards being drafted by Kansas and other states that describe evolution as a well-established core scientific concept.

Willard was involved in 2005, when a conservative-dominated BOE adopted science standards that criticized Darwin's theory of evolution and opened the door to religion in science classes, as also happened in 1999.

Both times, Kansans understandably turned back the conservatives' crusade by replacing them with more moderate boards that reversed those decisions.

They knew students have ample opportunity to learn about creationism, intelligent design and other specific religious beliefs at church, in a private school or at home and even in public schools.

While law prohibits public schools from endorsing specific religions, religious beliefs may be discussed in such classes as history and philosophy. Those discussions fall outside the realm of science, however.

Ideally, the state BOE would address science standards by the end of the year. With elections coming up, doing so would ensure that the current board of mostly moderate Republicans and Democrats would maintain evolution-friendly guidelines.

It's an even more pressing situation considering we have a governor who, during his run for president in 2007, said in a debate that he didn't believe in evolution.

Weakening the science standards would not only threaten the quality of education, but also fuel perception of Kansas as backward something not needed in a state eager to create more biotech and other science-based jobs.

Kansas must move forward.

The state BOE, which has an obligation to help students achieve high academic standards, should not fall prey to the whims of anyone pursuing policies that fit their own religious agenda.