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Opponents anxiously await PED's decision on science standards

Kassi Nelson
October 17, 2017 09:33 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The Public Education Department has been bombarded with feedback after releasing the proposed new science standards for New Mexico's public schools.

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PED heard hours of negative feedback at a public meeting Monday, and more than 1,000 people signed petitions for the Public Education Department to implement the national Next Generation Science Standards without the tweaks PED added. Even the two largest school districts in the state have written letters urging Secretary-Designate Christopher Ruszkowski to rethink the proposal.

After the mass effort, it seems like critics could be almost out of options.

"Everyone who cares about the well-being of our students in regards to getting a good education should call the governor and ask her to take the politics out of education," said Ellen Bernstein, president of the Albuquerque Teachers Federation

Bernstein encourages people to reach out to Gov. Susana Martinez despite her decision in April to veto the national standards from being taught in our classrooms.

"But that doesn’t stop us," she said. "We just need a lot of voices to join in."

The controversial changes to the NGSS include referring to human-caused climate change as "temperature fluctuation," and eliminate the Earth’s age and references to evolution.

Talk about the standards is circulating around the nation. The headline "New Mexico Doesn’t Want Your Kids To Know How Old the Earth Is" appears on nonprofit publication Mother Jones’ website. It’s followed by the subtitle, "Or why it’s getting warmer."

"It is really embarrassing to us as teachers and for the entire state to change really excellent standards to something that is truly proven to be substandard," Bernstein said.

The people behind those voices speaking out are waiting anxiously to see if Ruszkowski listens to their concerns. On Tuesday, his spokesperson said a PED team is reviewing the feedback from Monday’s public hearing while the secretary-designate celebrates high performing schools in the eastern part of the state.

On Monday evening Ruszkowski said the department will incorporate suggestions it received in the public hearing. 

"Many states that have adopted higher standards have made adjustments based upon input from their communities," he said. "New Mexico is no different."

Ruszkowski is expected to make a final decision on the proposal within the next several weeks.

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Kassi Nelson

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

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