Coalition for Excellence in Science and Math Education
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)

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!

19Jan/14Off

CESE Comments on Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

My beautiful picture CESE President Terry Dunbar, on behalf of the Coalition, has written Education Secretary-designate Hanna Skandera a letter regarding New Mexico's adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards.  His January 6th letter can be read in its entirety here.

Here follow some points from Terry's letter:

 The Coalition for Excellence in Science and Math Education (CESE) recommends that New Mexico adopt the Next Generation Science Standards for the following reasons:

NGSS standards are a comprehensive set of guidelines for the teaching of science that will be indispensible for teachers, administrators, and for those at the district and state level who wish to improve classroom teaching and learning in science. ...

Implementation of NGSS in New Mexico

If we are to achieve the ambitious and dynamic vision described in the NGSS and accompanying documents, considerable resources will have to be generated at the district and state level. No standards or curriculum can achieve change in the classroom by itself. The “taught curriculum” even now differs dramatically from the written curriculum and standards. To achieve change in the classroom, many issues must be addressed. Among these are curriculum writing, professional development for science teachers, coordination with teacher training programs, buying and upgrading science supplies and equipment.

The writers of NGSS included recognition of the massive systemic culture change necessary to successfully implement broad changes in actual science classroom practice. They cited the challenges for teachers posed by students who vary widely in demographic background, language ability, level of preparation, work habits, parental expectations, etc. Teachers will need a level of support considerably higher than that which now exists in order to embrace and faithfully implement NGSS.

CESE recommends the adoption of NGSS. Our organization of scientists, engineers, teachers, statisticians, curriculum writers, and concerned citizens stands ready to assist in any way we can to see that the rollout of these world-class standards is successful.

Sincerely,

Terry Dunbar, Ph.D.
President, CESE

The full document, including detailed comments on features of the NGSS, is available here.