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New Mexico Has Deleted Basic Science Facts From Their Education Standards

References to climate change, the age of the Earth and evolution have been removed

SCIENCE AF STAFF
12 OCT 2017
 

Last week, it came to light that New Mexico's science education standards have eliminated references to climate change, the age of the Earth and evolution.

The news broke when the state's Education Department sent out a notice with the time and date of a hearing "to receive public input on the proposed repeal" of the current science education standards.

 

Thanks to excellent investigation work by reporters at Mother Jones, the proposed changes to the standards have been widely publicised.

While the draft released by the Education Department is based on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), which provides a blueprint for science education from K-12, it officially changes the language of several guidelines.

Specifically, the new standards delete references to human-caused climate change, downplay the role of rising global temperatures and weaken or simply delete several references to evolution.

Some of the deletions are obvious, like a reference to the evolution of life that was removed completely. Other changes are more insidious. For instance, the new standards change "Earth's 4.6-billion-year-old geologic history" to simply "Earth's history" and the word "evolution" was replaced with "biological diversity".

"These changes are evidently intended to placate creationists and climate change deniers," says Glenn Branch, the deputy director of the National Center for Science Education.

A recent editorial written by Bill McCamley and G. Andrés Romero in the Las Cruces Sun-News, entitled "Keep politics out of science classrooms", places the blame for this science denial on the shoulders of the state's Republican governor, Susana Martinez.

 

Earlier this year, Martinez vetoed a vote that would have adopted the NGSS verbatim. Despite the fact that it passed both the House and the Senate, Martinez vetoed the measure down because she believed it would interfere with the executive branch's vetting of the standards.

In fact, a former member of the governor's staff, openly admitted the measure was vetoed in order to change some of the language in the standards to be "politically sanitized."

In other words, these amendments represent nothing less than the dumbing-down and blatant dismissal of basic scientific facts in order to cater towards political and cultural agendas.

McCamley and Romero are worried that these changes will ultimately end up hurting the very children who are supposed to be benefiting from the NGSS. They argue that these amendments place New Mexico's science education at a serious disadvantage compared to the rest of the country.

"Changing science education for political reasons is bad for jobs, bad for kids and bad for our universities," the editorial concludes.

"It's unfortunate the governor would veto a bill aimed at making New Mexico students competitive in 21st century STEM education," said Romero at the time the bill was originally vetoed.

"The Next Gen science standards are highly vetted standards that provide the best, most modern approaches and content to STEM education. If our children are to be competitive in the modern world, they need to be held to the best standards available."

If the residents of New Mexico agree, they will have until October 16 to voice their discontent on the matter.