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Why is NM's Public Education Department Gutting Science Standards?

Latest News Reports!

New Mexico's 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 Mention of the billion-year age of the earth has been removed, the very word "evolution" has been replaced by "biological diversity", and global warming is described by the mild euphemism "climate fluctuation".

The Albuquerque Journal reported on September 16th, 2017 that

Christopher Ruszkowski, secretary-designate for the Public Education Department, said the proposal gives New Mexico an opportunity to update its science curriculum in a way that reflects the “diversity of perspectives” in New Mexico.

"What we have proposed is a reflection of the diversity of New Mexico," Rusckowski said. "Right now, New Mexico has the ability to control its own destiny."

The Journal also said

Critics call the proposal a "watered-down" version of the national standards that will weaken science education and discourage people and companies that value science education from moving to New Mexico.

"I’m certainly not going to move a high-tech company here, because I'm not going to get a scientifically educated population," said Kim Johnson, a physicist and former president of the New Mexico Academy of Science.

"We’re doing the one thing in terms of educating our children that tend to push those kinds of businesses away," he said.

Johnson said the proposed standards are an attempt to appease those who have for years tried to scrub evolution and climate change from the state’s science curriculum.

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) at the Jerry Apodaca Education Building, 300 Don Gaspar Ave. in Santa Fe. NM Scientists, It's time to get our Ducks in a row!

If you can't attend the hearing, consider sending a statements to PED:
Public Comment. Interested parties may provide comment on the proposed repeal and replacement of this state rule at the public hearing or may submit written comments, or both, to 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 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).

Recent Stories:

KOAT TV7, "PED Secretary addresses controversial science changes" (10-18-17)
Asked "Who is behind these changes, and who is pushing them?", Ruszkowski said "
"These are the conspiracy theories that people are floating around. I find that unacceptable. I really take issue with it. Ultimately, I’m responsible for moving the state forward as it pertains to this."

KOB TV4, "Middle ground still not reached on proposed changes to science standards" (10-18-17)
Following public outcry and feedback on proposed changes to New Mexico’s science standards for schools, the secretary-designate of the Public Education Department has now changed those standards in an attempt at compromise.
But some educators say he didn’t go far enough and hope the changes aren’t final.

Santa Fe New Mexican, "OUR VIEW: Score one for science" (10-18-17)
Whatever the motivation, let’s be grateful that the department is listening to the public. Now, make it easy. Just adopt the Next Generation Science Standards and get ready to shake up science education in New Mexico — the right way.

KRQE TV13, "New Mexico PED to revise proposed science standards in response to backlash" (10-18-17)
Senator William Soules from Las Cruces tweeted about the announcement saying while evolution, earth’s age and climate change will be part of the standards, they still contain corporate wording."

Albuquerque Journal, "PED dropping some proposed changes to science standards" (10-18-17)
“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.

Mother Jones, "Facing Public Outcry, New Mexico Restores Evolution and Global Warming to Science Standards" (10-18-17)
“I’m encouraged that they issued a change so quickly, which indicates that they heard the 200 people” who attended Monday’s public hearing, says Ellen Loehman, a spokeswoman for the New Mexico Science Teachers’ Association. She says that PED has so far addressed the most immediate and significant concerns of New Mexicans but that the department can and should go further. “Our position is we want the Next Generation Science Standards as written. Period.”

Education Week, "Climate Change, Evolution Cause Curriculum Dust-Up in N.M." (10-18-17)

Albuquerque Journal, "NM PED makes changes to science standards" (10-18-17)
The New Mexico Department of Education has announced several alterations to its proposed science standards, restoring a reference to the 4.6 billion year old age of the earth and restoring a deleted mention of the word “evolution,” a day after hundreds packed a public hearing to oppose the agency’s proposal.
The revisions appear to leave in place most of PED’s proposed changes to the Next Generation Science Standards, which the agency announced last month, but eliminates several changes that drew the most criticism.

Albuquerque Journal: "Editorial: Forget Waldo, where’s Ruszkowski on science?" (10-18-17)

Los Alamos Monitor, "Science standards debate fills S.F. hall to capacity" (10-18-17)

Santa Fe New Mexican, "State to rewrite proposed science standards" (10-17-17)
Several people who weighed in on Ruszkowki’s announcement Tuesday night — including state Sen. Bill Soules, a Las Cruces Democrat and a former educator, Eileen Everett, executive director of the Environmental Education Association of New Mexico and Meredith Machen, president of the League of Women Voters of New Mexico — said they hope the department will go further and adopt in full the Next Generation Science Standards.

US News, "New Mexico Will Restore Evolution to Science Standards" (10-17-17)
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's proposed school science standards are being revised after a public outcry against the deletion or omission of references to global warming, evolution and the age of the Earth.
Public Education Secretary Christopher Ruszkowski announced Tuesday several changes to the final version of the state standards that incorporate suggestions from the public.
The Public Education Department says final standards will restore references to the 4.6 billion-year age of the Earth, the rise in global temperatures over the past century and the process of evolution due to genetic variation. A complete version of the final standards was not released.
COMMENT:While PED is correcting some of the deletions of evolution and climate change in the STEM-Ready Standards, much material from the NGSS is still not included. New Mexico needs the complete NGSS, not this latest vandalized-but-not-as-severely version.

The NM Political Report: "Overflow crowd opposes state’s proposed science standards" (10-17-17)

Santa Fe New Mexican, "Scores decry new science standards" (10-16-17)

KOB TV4, "Opponents anxiously await PED's decision on science standards" (10-17-17)

KOB TV4, "Many oppose proposed changes to science education standards" (10-16-17)

KUNM Radio, "PED Holds Hearing On Controversial Science Standards" (10-16-17)

ABC News, "Proposed New Mexico science standards omit global warming" (10-16-17)

KOAT TV7, "Hundreds protest controversial science proposal" (10-16-17)

KRWG TV.FM NMSU, "New Mexicans speak out against proposed science standards" (10-16-17)
Quotes from several speakers.

Los Alamos Monitor, "Science standards meeting fills state hearing room" (10-16-17)
Hundreds appeared Monday in Santa Fe for the single public hearing scheduled to comment on controversial science standards proposed by the state’s Public Education Department. Throughout the morning, no one spoke in favor of PED’s proposal, many saying the department’s rewritten version of the national Next Generation Science Standards, known as Next Gen, were politically motivated

Las Cruces Sun-News/Associated Press, "Hearing on proposed New Mexico science standards draws crowd" (10-16-17)

Education Week, "Evolution, Climate Change on Chopping Block? N.M. Science Standards Get Airing" (10-16-17)

Los Alamos Daily Post, "Lujan Grisham Statement On Public Opposition To State’s Proposed Science Standards" (10-16-17)

KOB TV4: "Many oppose proposed changes to science education standards" (10-16-17)

Associated Press, "Proposed New Mexico science standards omit global warming" (10-16-17)
Public Education Secretary Christopher Ruszkowski, who did not attend the hearing, wrote Sunday in a public letter that the customized standards will give teachers and families “flexibility and local control around science materials, curriculum and content.”

KRQE TV13, "Hundreds protest proposed changes to NM science curriculum" (10-16-17)

Albuquerque Journal: "Speakers urge state to reject science curriculum changes" (10-16-17)
Hundreds jammed into a crowded auditorium Monday and waited up to seven hours to urge state officials to abandon proposed science education standards during a chaotic public meeting interrupted at one point by a fire alarm. Scientists, teachers, university professors and faith leaders demanded that the New Mexico Public Education Department adopt a nationwide set of teaching standards called the Next Generation Science Standards without changes proposed by the agency last month. Not one speaker expressed support for the PED’s proposed changes.

KRQE TV13: "Albuquerque teachers condemn proposed science curriculum changes" (10-16-17)

Earther, "New Mexico Is About to Set a Horrible Precedent for Teaching Science" (10-15-17) Santa Fe Public Schools Board member Steve Carrillo said he "thinks Monday’s public hearing at the Capitol complex in Santa Fe is just an act of appeasement by the government after weeks of criticism, but that Martinez will do what she wants, as the government is under no obligation to respond to the hearing."

KRWG TV/FM, NMSU: "New Mexicans invited to rally before hearing on science curriculum" (10-15-17)

Science Is Real. A Campaign by ATF and AFT NM (10-14-17)

Albuquerque Teachers Federation (AFT), "Science is Real" (VIDEO) (10-14-17)

Santa Fe New Mexican, Science standards fall short By Nancy Craig (10-14-17)

Santa Fe New Mexican: "Standing up for STEM-ready science By Christopher Ruszkowski" (10-13-17)
...Today, however, some claim to be seeking truth and social justice yet have consistently disparaged all other forms of measurement, data, accountability, evaluation and evidence on how to improve student outcomes, especially for our kids from low-income communities. For those taking that position or offering only misleading soundbites instead of taking constructive steps like scheduling a meeting or engaging in productive dialogue, let us not miss an opportunity to pull together and demonstrate a greater commitment to student success than public posturing.

KRQE TV13 "Critics of New Mexico science standards organize protests" (10-13-17)

Albuquerque Journal: "NM scientists hold ‘teach-in’ at PED office (10-13-17)"
FOR THE RECORD: This story has been updated to reflect that David Thomas, a New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology staff scientist and software engineer, said the Earth is “provably” — not “probably” — billions of years old. The word was mistakenly changed during the editing process. The story also has been updated to include a statement from the New Mexico Public Education Department.

Albuquerque Journal: "Public weighs in on science controversy" (10-13-17)
Altering the national standards also would make it difficult for New Mexico to use a vast amount of material developed by California and other states to training teachers and administrators to implement the new standards.

Los Alamos Daily Post, "Los Alamos Commerce And Development Corporation Comments On Proposed State Science Standards" (10-13-17)

Santa Fe New Mexican, "‘Teach-in’ uses facts, humor to challenge science standards" (10-13-17)
Dave Thomas, a scientist who works at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro, gave a talk on the age of the planet and said, “If you want to use New Mexico’s vast cultural and scientific resources in lessons, like the stalagmites in Fort Stanton Cave, that’s one thing. But removing basic science concepts is wrong. The Earth is billions of years old, whether you live in Taos County or Luna County.”

KOB TV4, "PED secretary-designate defends proposed science standard changes" (10-12-17)
The Secretary-Designate for Public Education Christopher Ruszkowski spoke with KKOB Radio Thursday morning regarding some major concerns people have. He also gave a clue as to who influenced the controversial changes made to the national standards the PED said they’re looking to adopt.
"We have 89 districts. We have 100 charter schools. All of them have different values. ...
Ruszkowski defended the science proposals and said they reflect the values of different regions of the state.
"We need to allow for districts and charter schools to have the flexibility they need and the local control they need to do what they need to do for their own communities,” he said. ...
Ruszkowski said the standards allow students to form their own opinions. "If we’re going to build critical thinkers, we want to make sure we’re not imposing our values on our kids, that our kids are actually getting the chance to make up their minds for themselves,” Ruszkowski said.
The secretary-designate also said anyone who has an issue with the standards can make an appointment with him to discuss them.

KOB TV4, "PED not saying who is behind science standards proposal" (10-12-17)
...But with the proposal raising so much concern, PED remains tight-lipped about who those advocates are and won't say who had input on developing the standards.

El Defensor Chieftain, "Tech Faculty Senate weighs in on proposed PED standards" (10-12-17)
If these flawed standards are adopted, the consequences will be far reaching for all New Mexicans.

NCSE, "The latest from New Mexico" (10-12-17)

Santa Fe New Mexican, AP: "National lab scientists assail state education proposal" (10-11-17)

KOB TV4, "APS board, national lab scientists assail state education proposal" (10-11-17)

Las Cruces Sun-News: "Los Alamos lab scientists assail New Mexico science education proposal" (10-10-17)

Albuquerque Journal: "APS board votes to criticize science curriculum changes" (10-10-17)

KRWG TV/FM, NMSU"New Mexico Legislator Blasts Proposed Science Education Changes" (10-10-17)

League of Women Voters of New Mexico, "LWVNM Comment on the Proposed New Mexico STEM-Ready Science Standards" (10-09-17)

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)

AAUW NM,Letter to PED regarding STEM-Ready Science Standards (09-28-17)

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)

This has happened many, many times before. Here's the History:

History of C/E Conflict in New Mexico

Nick Matzke on evolution of antievolution legislation (2015)

News 13 and Albuquerque Journal Succumb to Creationist Whining...(2015)

Evolution of Creationist Legislation in the New Mexico Legislature (2007-2011)

Creationist Legislation, New Mexico Legislature, 2011 60-day Session

DEJA-VU ALL OVER AGAIN: 2009 Bill, SB433: News and Analysis

"Intelligent Design" IS Religious Creationism! (2009)

Intelligent Design Creationist Proposed Bills and Joint Memorials in the 2007 New Mexico Legislature (PDF by Kim Johnson)

The Lie: NM is "ID-Friendly (2007)"

Rio Rancho's Ill-Fated Brush with Creationism (2005-2007)

KUDOS for KNME for not airing Creationist Program! (2005)

"Do NM's Science Standards Embrace Intelligent Design?" (2005)

"Top 10 Myths of the Intelligent Design Movement" (presented at DDDV, 2004)

Aug. 2003: New Science Standards Adopted!

NMSR Statement on 2003 Science Standards

IDNet-NM/Zogby ID "Poll" of Labs is BOGUS! (2003)

OK, IDNet-NM - WHERE'S THE BEEF? (2003)

ID: Is It Science? (2002)

NMFC Sends ID Book to NM Schools (2002)

ID: Is It Science? (2002)

NMFC Sends ID Book to NM Schools (2002)

Know your NM Creationists

by Dave Thomas : nmsrdaveATswcp.com (Help fight SPAM!  Please replace the AT with an @ )

Last Update: Oct. 19th, 2017

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