Changes to School Science Standards Opposed
Proposed changes to the New Mexico Public Education Department's statewide science standards are meeting with criticism from state educators and concerned parents. Last month, the PED released a draft of the new policies, based on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)—a new guide released in 2013 by Achieve, the National Research Council, the National Science Teachers Association and the American Association for the Advancement of Science which has been adopted by 18 states and the District of Columbia—but with significant changes to the language of the original guidelines. In a public statement released earlier this month by the New Mexico Science Teachers' Association, the group objected to changes made to the NGSS guidelines regarding “the topics of evolution, earth history and climate change.” The PED's proposed version would replace “evolution” with “biological diversity,” a “rise in global temperatures” with temperature “fluctuations,” and the Earth’s “4.6-billion-year history” with “geologic history.” A number of other pro-science organizations have also spoken against the draft, including the Los Alamos National Laboratory Foundation, the National Science Teachers' Association and the National Association of Biology Teachers. State leaders have also opposed the new standards. In a statement published by NMPolitics.net, state senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich encouraged readers “to speak out against this plan to undermine the quality of K-12 science education.” In a column for the Las Cruces Sun-News, state representatives G. Andrés Romero (District 10) and Bill McCamley (District 53) called the changes, “an attempt to politicize science education.” Secretary Christopher Ruszkowski has declined to specify who developed the proposed changes, telling the Santa Fe New Mexican the draft was based on input from “a bunch of different groups,” including “business groups, civic groups, teacher groups, superintendents.” The PED will be holding a public meeting concerning the standards on Monday, Oct. 16 in Mabry Hall at the Jerry Apodaca Education Building (300 Don Gaspar Ave, Santa Fe) from 9am to noon. Written comments will be accepted until 5pm.