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Middle ground still not reached on proposed changes to science standards

Kassandra Nelson
October 18, 2017 07:26 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – 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.

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But some educators say he didn’t go far enough and hope the changes aren’t final.

“We are cautiously optimistic,” said Charles Goodmacher, spokesperson for the New Mexico chapter of the National Education Association.

Goodmacher said adding key topics like global warming, evolution and the age of the Earth to the standards is a step in the right direction.

But the association’s request to adopt the national standards unchanged remains.

 


Here are the proposed changes, provided by the Public Education Department:

Middle School

  • Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence from rock strata for how the geologic timescale is used to organize Earth’s 4.6-billion-year-old history.
  • Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century.

High School

  • Construct an explanation based on evidence that the process of evolution primarily results from four factors: (1) the potential for a species to increase in number, (2) the heritable genetic variation of individuals in a species due to mutation and sexual reproduction, (3) competition for limited resources, and (4) the proliferation of those organisms that are better able to survive and reproduce in the environment.
  • Analyze geoscience data and the results from global climate models to make an evidence-based forecast of the current rate of global or regional climate change and associated future impacts to Earth systems.

     

“I think the voices were heard, but if they’ve been clearly heard and thoroughly understood then what would have been announced would have been the adoption of the next-gen standards,” Goodmacher said.

The American Federation of Teachers echoed that sentiment, along with the Albuquerque Teachers Union.

In a statement, their presidents say PED Secretary-Designate Christopher Ruszkowski is making changes in an attempt to distract New Mexicans from the fact that the standards are still overly burdensome for educators and students. They also argue that the standards cater to New Mexico’s fossil fuel industry.

Ruszkowski, a former social studies teacher, has been at the helm of New Mexico’s schools since June.

He is also an alumnus of the Chiefs for Change’s Future Chiefs program, an advocacy group created by Jeb Bush that promotes many of the former Florida governor’s education policies around the country.

There’s one more thing that thousands are seeking from Ruszkowski: Transparency.

“We are concerned about where did these New Mexico proposals even come from,” Goodmacher said. “As we all know, there’s been no evidence of who was talked to, and where the proposal came from.”

There will be one more chance for public input on the proposed changes, at a Legislative Education Study Committee Thursday at 9 a.m. Public comment will be held after the meeting.

Credits

Kassandra Nelson

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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