New Mexico’s top education official is misleading the public about how his agency crafted a series of controversial changes to the state’s science standards, according to a former state employee who worked on the standards and later quit in protest.
Last month, as Mother Jones first reported, the state’s public education agency released a plan for updating its science education guidelines for grades K-12. The draft language drew heavily on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), which were developed over several years by national science and teaching associations, as well as by an array of other scientists, teachers, professors, engineers, cognitive experts, and business leaders. At least 18 states and the District of Columbia have adopted NGSS to teach science to their students.
But there were some eyebrow-raising differences in New Mexico’s guidelines. The proposed standards deleted language from the NGSS referencing the “4.6-billion-year” history of the Earth, omitted entirely one mention of evolution, and eliminated references to human-caused global warming. In one case, the proposed standards would replace language about the “rise in global temperatures” with a reference to the supposed “fluctuation” in global temperatures. The new standards have not yet gone into effect; they’ll be debated at a public meeting later this month.
Christopher Ruszkowski, the head of New Mexico’s Public Education Department, shot back at critics by saying that his agency’s proposed changes—including those that fly in the face of peer-reviewed science and long-accepted facts—resulted from input by “a bunch of different groups,” among them “business groups, civic groups, teacher groups, superintendents.” He wouldn’t specify who the groups were but said the process that went into writing the controversial proposed standards was “how PED does business.”
But that’s not how it happened, according to Lesley Galyas, a former state employee who was in charge of PED’s efforts to revamp its outdated science standards until late last year, when she resigned. Galyas, who served four years as the math and science bureau chief at the department, said her job in part entailed overseeing teachers’ groups, focus groups, and a math and science advisory committee, all with the aim of bringing New Mexico’s standards in line with the latest research on science and teaching.
PED says it will hold a public hearing on its proposed science standards on October 16 in Santa Fe, the state capital.
Click here to read the full story in Mother Jones (October 6, 2017)