October 11, 2017

APS joins backlash against PED’s science standards changes

COD Newsroom via Flickr

The state’s largest school district criticized new proposed science standards by the Public Education Department.

The Albuquerque Public School board voted 5-1 to send a letter disapproving of the changes, which included removing specific references to increasing global temperatures and the Earth’s age, to the state Public Education Department.

At issue are the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). So far, 18 states and the District of Columbia have adopted the 2013 standards.

PED proposed adopting most of the standards—but with some key changes.

These revisions caused an outcry. Scientists from Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories were among those who criticized the changes.

The APS board’s letter said the proposed changes make the standards “unique to New Mexico” which “negates the benefit of leveraging the extensive research and evidence that was the basis for development of the NGSS.”

The one board member who opposed sending the letter was Peggy Muller-Aragón. Muller-Aragón won a seat on the board thanks, in part, to spending from SusanaPAC, Gov. Susana Martinez’s political action committee.

The feedback from APS came days before public comment ends on the proposed changes to the science standards.

Earlier this year, Martinez vetoed legislation that would have required science teachers to follow the NGSS. In her veto message, Martinez said it would be more appropriate for PED to implement the standards through rules rather than putting it in statute.

PED then released a notice on proposed standards in September—months after Martinez’s veto—that changed the phrase  “Earth’s 4.6-billion-year-old geologic history” to “Earth’s history,” cutting out mentions of evolution and changing a reference to the increase in global temperatures to “temperature fluctuations.”

Those who have thoughts on the proposed standards can still let PED know what they think.

PED will hold a public hearing on the proposed standards on Oct. 16 in Santa Fe, at the Jerry Apodaca Education Building at 9 a.m.

Comments to PED can be sent to rule.feedback@state.nm.us via email or mailed to the Policy Division, New Mexico Public Education Department, Room 101, 300 Don Gaspar Avenue, Santa Fe, NM 87501. The deadline for written comments is 5 p.m. on Oct. 16.