Coalition for Excellence in Science and Math Education
28Oct/17Off

After PED Change on Science Standards, What Now?

After a tumultuous hearing in Santa Fe on October 16th, 2017, NM's Public Education Department has apparently reversed its deletion of topics including evolution, the age of the earth, and climate change from proposed state science standards. While the PED has announced that it will include the complete Next Gen Science Standards (NGSS), some concern remains over the exact nature and wording of six remaining New Mexico-specific additions to the NGSS.

Meanwhile, new concerns are being raised about omissions in history standards, according to the Santa Fe Reporter: "Not Done Yet: As New Mexico's Public Education Department promises new science standards, it quietly guts history and health requirements."

Several CESE board members spoke at the October 16th hearing.

 

The hearing room was packed, and many were turned away for lack of room. Sen. William Soules, D.-Las Cruces, is calling for a public hearing on whether the PED's science standards process violated open-meetings laws.

 

 

CESE board members Lisa Durkin, Becky Reiss, and Terry Dunbar spoke against the PED "STEM-Ready" standards. (Several other CESE members, not pictured, also attended and/or spoke.)

Lisa Durkin

 

Dr. Becky Reiss (behind student testifying)

 

Dr. Terry Dunbar (to left of KOB4 Logo)

On October 19th, CESE secretary Dave Thomas had an op-ed in Socorro's El Defensor Chieftain, titled "Why does PED want to weaken public school science standards?" Dave was also quoted at length in an October 13th Santa Fe New Mexican piece on a pre-hearing Teach-In in Santa Fe, "Teach-in’ uses facts, humor to challenge science standards".

CESE Treasurer Steve  Brügge authored a  guest column in the October 22nd, 2017 Albuquerque Journal, titled "Science standards don’t need New Mexico-only additions." Steve also had a letter in the October 24th Santa Fe New Mexican, "Showing Up."

CESE board member Kim Johnson has been following the situation closely. From the October 18th issue of the Albuquerque Journal, "PED dropping some proposed changes to science standards":

 "The whole concept of changing the Next Generation Standards is silly,” said Kim Johnson, a physicist and former president of the New Mexico Academy of Science. “For goodness sakes, please do not mess with science.” Johnson said Wednesday that PED’s new proposal still omits valuable information, such as a lesson comparing embryos from different species and a framework that provides teachers with guidance for their instruction.."

The next step is to see exactly what PED changes remain in the NGSS standards. Stay tuned for further reports!

10Oct/17Off

Surge of Protests Against PED’s Science Standard Changes

Momentum has been gathering against anti-science alterations proposed by New Mexico's Public Education Department. Here follows a compendium of related stories.

There will be a Public Hearing on October 16, 2017 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. (MDT) at the Jerry Apodaca Education Building, 300 Don Gaspar Ave. in Santa Fe.

If you can't attend the hearing, consider sending a statements to PED, care of Jamie Gonzales, Policy Division, New Mexico Public Education Department, Room 101, 300 Don Gaspar Avenue, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501, or by electronic mail at rule.feedback@state.nm.us, or by fax to (505) 827-6681. All written comments must be received no later than 5:00 p.m. (MDT) on the date of the public hearing. The PED encourages the early submission of written comments. The public comment period is from September 12, 2017 to October 16, 2017 at 5 p.m. (MDT).

61 Los Alamos Lab Fellows Speak Out Against Standards (10-09-17)

Albuquerque Journal, APS board committee to vote on science standards protest letter (10-09-17)

Santa Fe New Mexican, Modern life is a product of real science By Tom Ribe (10-07-17)
"Gov. Susana Martinez wants to mislead New Mexico's students about critical scientific facts, setting them up for a future of ignorance and confusion (“Inexact science?” Sept. 24). Her Public Education Department this month published public schools science curriculum standards that promote dishonest ideas pushed by the religious right and the oil industry. The consequences could be serious for our kids' job futures and for the economy of New Mexico."

Santa Fe New Mexican, Blinding N.M.'s students to real science sets off alarms By Beth Beloff (10-07-17)
"As Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson intones, disputing established scientific facts spells the end of our informed democracy. ... Why wouldn’t we want to teach our children these scientific truths?"

Los Alamos Daily Post, Rep. STEPHANIE GARCIA RICHARD: Science Under Threat (10-08-17)

Mother Jones, "They Were Really Worried About Creationists and the Oil Companies” A former New Mexico education official recounts the secrecy behind the state's anti-science standards." (10-06-17)

Las Cruces Sun News, LCPS chief criticizes proposed New Mexico science standards (10-06-17)

NCSE, Opposition to proposed standards solidifies in New Mexico (10-05-17)

Los Alamos Daily Post, School Board Talks Back To PED On Science Standards (10-03-17)

Science? Santa Fe New Mexican, "We’ll show you science" (10-03-17)

Santa Fe New Mexican "State provides no specifics on origins of science proposal"(10-03-17)

New Mexico Science Teachers' Associatio, detailed opposition to the proposed standards (10-03-17)

Albuquerque Journal, "Santa Fe board rejects PED's proposed science standards" (10-3-2017)
...the Santa Fe school board also endorsed a "teach-in" next week, a few days before the PED standards hearing. Board member Steven Carrillo said the idea is to present several science lessons to demonstrate to the PED that science matters. The teach-in is scheduled for 3:30 to 5 p.m. on Oct. 13 at the Jerry Apodaca Education Building, 300 Don Gaspar Ave.

Santa Fe New Mexican, "State provides no specifics on origins of science proposal" (10-3-2017)

Las Cruces Sun-News "Listen to scientists on state standards" (9-27-17)
We suggest that when it comes to academic standards, the PED should listen more to the scientists and less to the politicians.

Albuquerque Journal: Editorial: PED's science standards are patently unscientific (9-26-17)
Ruszkowski says his proposal gives New Mexico an opportunity to update its science curriculum in a way that reflects the “diversity of perspectives” in New Mexico. But a “diversity of perspectives” belongs in sociology or theology class – it runs counter to the scientific process that, through experimentation and verification, turns theory into accepted fact or fiction, not something in between.
Whether Ruszkowski is bowing to political pressure to water down the science curriculum that New Mexico teachers will deliver to students – or simply doesn’t believe in climate change, evolution or scientific dating processes – his recommendations are deeply troubling and take New Mexico in the wrong direction for education and the new economy.

Science education is essential to NM's future By Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich (9-26-17)
Censoring science in our schools will slow the growth of our businesses and dissuade future investment into New Mexico from those looking to relocate their business or company here.

Las Cruces Sun-News "Keep politics out of science classrooms" (9-24-17)
...removing a reference to the age of the Earth is as ridiculous as claiming the world is flat and potential professors will also laugh at us when we recruit them here.

Santa Fe New Mexican, Inexact science? State’s proposed standards divide leaders, educators (9-23-17)

Santa Fe New Mexican, SFPS science proficiency rates plunge as state pushes new standards (9-23-17)
Lisa Durkin, a high school science teacher in Los Lunas, said that if the education department does not create a strong plan to roll out the new standards, the transition could come off like “PARCC on steroids” — a reference to the difficulty many districts in New Mexico faced when adapting to new standardized, computer-based math and language arts exams several years ago.

Proposed changes to science ed raises concerns in Los Alamos(9-22-17)

National Science Teachers Association opposition to the changes to the NGSS in NM (09-22-17)

NEA-New Mexico Weighs In On New Mexico PED Proposed Science Education Standards (09-20-17)

Santa Fe New Mexican, Our View, Science standards fail students (9-20-17)

Shenanigans in New Mexico (9-19-17)
The state has said that the new standards are an attempt to include the diversity of New Mexico. Instead, these standards cater to a small slice of New Mexicans, people occupying a place where where dogma trumps science and believers want to impose their views on the rest of us. Such blatant pandering in no way prepares students for the challenges of the world.

Why Evolution is True: "New Mexico school standards water down evolution, geology, and climate change" (9-19-17)

Santa Fe Reporter, "The Same, but Different: New Mexico's new school science standards might leave out climate change, evolution" (9-19-17)
A hand-picked group of math and science experts said not to do it.
A focus group of 85 teachers, professors and school administrators, convened by former Education Secretary Hanna Skandera, said not to do it.
Christopher Ruszkowski wants to do it.
More than four years after a succession of professional groups began urging the state's Public Education Department to implement unmodified Next Generation Science Standards in New Mexico schools, Ruszkowski—the governor's pick to replace Skandera—is recommending new standards that change curriculum on human-caused climate change and evolution.

Santa Fe New Mexican, "SFPS board questions 'troubling' science curriculum proposal" (9-19-17)

KOB TV4, "Science teaching guidelines trigger criticism in New Mexico" (9-19-17)
New Mexico Deputy Secretary of School Transformation Debbie Montoya says her agency will listen and respond to input from all of New Mexico's stakeholders when writing content standards.

KRQE TV13, "Teachers oppose PED's proposed changes to how students learn science" (9-16-17)

Albuquerque Journal, "WHOSE SCIENCE? Critics say proposed NM science standards omit evolution, climate change" (9-16-17)

Mother Jones, "New Mexico Doesn't Want Your Kids to Know How Old the Earth Is, Or why it's getting warmer." (9-14-17)

27Sep/17Off

CESE Op – Eds Online

From our CESE Op - Eds and News page, some relevant articles by our own Ken Whiton!

Ruszkowski faces myriad challenges as head of PED
By Ken Whiton / Albuquerque resident
Monday, August 7th, 2017

Gov., Skandera, Journal just don’t get it on evals
By Ken Whiton / Albuquerque resident
Thursday, June 12th, 2014

15Sep/17Off

New Mexico PED Wants to take Science out of Science Standards?!?

When CESE formed in 1997, the NM Board of Education had removed the very word "Evolution" from state science teaching standards. Members of the new organization formed to oppose the flawed standards began to call themselves "Ducks", referring to the manner in which Creationist arguments are like ducks in a shooting gallery: "easy enough to shoot down, but no matter how many times you do it, they pop right back up again." CESE, led by its founder Marshall Berman, and aided by many other science groups, eventually prevailed, and New Mexico's science standards have been exemplary for years.

Now, however, the Public Education Department, which replaced the State Board of Education years ago, has actually proposed several modifications to state standards up for adoption which once again serve to downplay the science behind evolution and global warming. Mother Jones has a detailed informative report, "New Mexico Doesn’t Want Your Kids to Know How Old the Earth Is, Or why it’s getting warmer."

An excerpt:

New Mexico’s public education agency wants to scrub discussions of climate change, rising global temperatures, evolution, and even the age of planet Earth from the standards that shape its schools’ curriculum.

The state’s Public Education Department this week released a new proposed replacement to its statewide science standards. The draft is based on the Next Generation Science Standards, a set of ideas and guidelines released in 2013 that cover kindergarten through 12th grade. The NGSS, which have been adopted by at least 18 states and the District of Columbia, include ample discussion of human-caused climate change and evolution.

But the draft released by New Mexico’s education officials changes the language of a number of NGSS guidelines, downplaying the rise in global temperatures, striking references to human activity as the primary cause of climate change, and cutting one mention of evolution while weakening others. The standards would even remove a reference to the scientifically agreed-upon age of the Earth—nearly 4.6 billion years. (Young Earth creationists use various passages in the Bible to argue that the planet is only a few thousand years old.)

The article points out that “These changes are evidently intended to placate creationists and climate change deniers.

Here are some of the changes which have been proposed. Mention of the billion-year age of the earth has been removed, the very word "evolution" has been replaced by "biological diversity", and global warming is described by the mild euphemism "climate fluctuation".

Look for "Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to obtain input on the proposed repeal of 6.29.10 NMAC, Science, to be replaced by 6.29.10 NMAC, New Mexico Stem-Ready Science Standards." on the PED's Public Notices page.

There will be a Public Hearing on October 16, 2017 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. (MDT). It's time to get our Ducks in a row!

6Aug/17Off

New CESE Officers Announced

Picture shows CESE luncheon at Jessica McCord's house, August 5th 2017

It's official, the new CESE Slate has been approved by the membership!

Here are the CESE officers for 2017-2018:

  • Past President: Jessica McCord
  • President: Jesse Johnson
  • Vice President/President elect: Ken Whiton
  • Treasurer: Steve Brugge
  • Secretary: Dave Thomas
  • Board Members At Large:

    • Rebecca Reiss
    • Lisa Durkin
    • Jack Jekowski
    • Kim Johnson
    • Marilyn Savitt-Kring
    • Cindy Chapman
    • Terry Dunbar
2Jul/17Off

Etscorn Delights Audience; Jekowski gets Award

Frank Etscorn, inventor of the Nicotine Patch

Psychology Professor Frank Etscorn regaled the audience with tales of science, and the importance of determination, at CESE's annual meeting on June 24th, 2017. Professor Etscorn described his multiple attempts to succeed at a career, and the fascinating story of his discovery that absorption of nicotine through the skin could alleviate the desire for a cigarette. Etscorn's initial experiments, which involved 360-degree vomiting, showed the dedication of this adventurous researcher.

 

 

Jack Jekowski receiving his award

In other meeting business, long-time CESE board member and education/business wonk Jack Jekowski was honored with a plaque.  The plaque reads: 

 

Jack, you have been a tireless contributor to CESE since the organization’s earliest days.  Your efforts to help those in New Mexico’s business community understand the complexities and realities of education and the difficulties involved in education reform have positively touched thousands of lives.  Your colleagues in CESE recognize and honor your dedication and initiative, will forever be grateful for the example you have set, and cherish your friendship.

 

Filed under: General, News Comments Off
7Jun/17Off

Etscorn to keynote CESE Annual Meeting on June 24th, 2017

Dr. Etscorn at the Socorro March for Science

Dr. Etscorn giving the commencement speech at New Mexico Tech, May 2017.

CESE’s 20th annual meeting will be on June 24th, 1:30 pm at the UNM Anthropology department lecture hall. Our featured speaker is Dr. Frank Etscorn, the award-winning inventor of the nicotine patch. The critical discoveries that lead to the 1986 patent Transcutaneous Application of Nicotine were made while he was mentoring students as a Professor of Psychology at New Mexico Tech in Socorro. He will discuss a subject very near to our prime mission: Never Give Up on a Student. We think you will be entertained and enlightened by Dr. Etscorn. There will also be a brief business meeting and election of officers.

Saturday, June 24, 2017, 1:30 PM
"Never Give Up on a Student"
The UNM Anthropology Lecture Hall
FREE and open to the public
Directions: From Central and University, go north on University until you get to Las Lomas. Turn right, then right into the parking lot. The lecture will take place in the Anthropology buliding lecture hall, immediately south of the parking lot. Parking is free on Saturdays. We look forward to seeing you there.

 

Filed under: Governance, News Comments Off
25May/17Off

The May 2017 Beacon is HERE!!

CESE is pleased to announce the publication of the latest Beacon, for May 2017. It is the first Beacon done by new editor Becky Reiss. Here are some teasers from President Jessica McCord's introductory article.

 

The first article, A Vindication of the Criticism of New Mexico Public Education Department’s Teacher, Evaluation System, is an analysis by CESE of a December 2016 peer-reviewed publication that includes a coauthor who is the primary architect of the current teacher evaluation and school grading systems in use today in New Mexico. You will find that this paper’s conclusions do not support the use of the current NM teacher evaluation system.

The next article, How New Mexico’s Teacher Evaluation System Translates to the Classroom, is a personal account of one teacher’s experience with the evaluation system; a journey that will leave you with a better understanding of the effect these policies have on teachers. The results are evocative.

Then, we present one cartoon about NM graduation rates and the cut-off score that students need to achieve to graduate.. There is a long story behind this, but the cartoon has the answer to a question all New Mexicans interested in education should be asking about those graduation rates. Hint – look behind the curtain.

Finally, we are please to announce this year's keynote speaker for our June 24th Annual Meeting, Dr. Frank Etscorn. Dr. Etscorn is the award-winning inventor of the nicotine patch. The critical discoveries that lead to the 1986 patent Transcutaneous Application of Nicotine were made while he was mentoring students as a Professor of Psychology at New Mexico Tech in Socorro. He will discuss a subject very near to our prime mission: "Never Give Up on a Student."

You can catch up on all the CESE Beacons here. It's our 20th anniversary, see what we've been up to for the last couple of decades!

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27Feb/17Off

CESE Board meets President’s Baby

board-meeting-2-22-2017s

The CESE Board was delighted to meet president Jessica McCord's new baby Ryleigh. Shown above at our February 22nd, 2017 regular board meeting are secretary Dave Thomas, vice-president Jesse Johnson, board members Kim Johnson, Lisa Durkin, treasurer Steve Brugge, Cindy Chapman, Ken Whiton, Becky Reiss, Terry Dunbar, and president Jessica McCord (with Ryleigh).

Thanks to Betty Ann Whiton for a marvelous Bread Pudding!

bread-pudding

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27Jun/16Off

Large Crowd hears Lawrence Krauss Speak

UNM's Maxwell Lecture Hall was filled to capacity for Dr. Lawrence M. Krauss's appearance at the CESE Annual Meeting on June 25th, 2016. It was a memorable event. Here follow some photos of the goings-on.

A 275+ crowd is ready to hear Dr. Krauss (front, hat).
Outgoing president Lisa Durkin addresses the crowd. The membership approved the new slate of officers for CESE: President: Jessica McCord; Vice-president/president elect: Jesse Johnson; Secretary: Dave Thomas; and Treasurer: Steve Brugge.
Dr. Krauss discussed several topics in physics and cosmology, including the Cosmic Microwave Background (shown), and the importance of the recent detection of the gravitational waves predicted by Einstein.
A lively question-and-answer period followed the talk.
Dr. Krauss signed dozens of books, and graciously obliged requests for photographs as well.
At a post-meeting gathering at Bruno's, outgoing secretary Marilyn Savitt-Kring (left) received a plaque of appreciation for her many years of service as CESE's secretary. The award was presented by Lisa Durkin; Mark Fraser is on the right.