Education Secretary-designate Christopher Ruszkowski announced last week that the New Mexico Public Education Department would be adopting the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in their entirety. The move comes somewhat as a surprise following weeks of public outcry over the department's suggestion that the NGSS be altered by removing mentions of a “rise in global temperatures” or “evolution.” Scientists and educators from across the country spoke out against the suggestion, even gathering at the state capitol to protest the changes during a public hearing on the subject. Ruszkowski's earlier responses to the scandal seemed to defend the department's proposed changes. In a public message dated Oct. 15, Ruszkowski said the changes would give teachers and families “flexibility,” allowing for more local control of science education. More recently, he spoke to the Albuquerque Journal, saying that PED's goal is to “raise the bar for our kids,” and that the debate was “dragging the public away from tangible, meaningful outcomes.” The PED's announcement that it will be accepting the NGSS without any alterations has been applauded by the state's scientists and educators. The NGSS is a set of educational science standards that were issued in 2013 by 26 states, the National Science Teachers Association and other science advocacy groups.
Kirtland Officer Claims He was Disciplined For Same-Sex Marriage Beliefs
A religious liberties group is calling for the reinstatement of a Kirtland Air Force colonel who was disciplined over his views on same-sex marriages. In May, Col. Leland Bohannon was relieved of command after an Equal Opportunity complaint was leveled against him. According to an appeal letter sent to the Secretary of the Air Force earlier this month by religious group First Liberty Institute, Col. Bohannon refused to issue a “certificate of spouse appreciation” to the same-sex spouse of a retiring Master Sergeant. The certificate is not an official document and is not legally required to be given. The group says that Col. Bohannon was exercising his religious beliefs when he refused to issue the certificate and was discriminated against by the Air Force. They say he was wrongfully relieved of command and should be reinstated. Their appeal asks for the full reversal of the complaint and the removal of “unfavorable materials” from Bohannon's record. They also ask that the Air Force train officers on how to deal with similar situations when they arise.
Judge Dismisses Claims Against Forest Service Over Grazing
A recent ruling dismissed all counts against the US government in a legal battle over grazing rights that has lasted for years. Attorneys for a group of Hispanic ranchers claimed that the US Forestry Service's decision to limit grazing on historic land grants was unlawful. The ranchers said that some of the land had been used by their families for centuries, and the Forestry Service was unaware of the detrimental effects the limits would have on local economy. According to their attorneys, the government's refusal to allow grazing in regions where poverty rates are high and farmers require the land for subsistence was in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Last week, a US District Judge ruled against them, however, stating that the NEPA does not require the Forest Service to consider social and economic effects of their actions. The Forest Service will begin reviewing grazing permits next year.