Tempers Flare Over Proposed Changes to NM Education Standards

By: October 19, 2017 5:57 pmViews: 32

New Mexico kids could get caught in the middle of a charged debate over which scientific principals belong in classrooms, and parents, educators and students are responding with anger and a long list of concerns.

In a meeting at the state capital last Monday, hundreds of New Mexico residents joined together and heavily criticized revisions to standards for education, created by a consortium of states and the National academy of Science. Some of these changes include removing topics like evolution and the age of planet earth from school curriculums. Not one of the 55 speakers present at the public hearing supported the proposed changes. Instead it became very clear that New Mexico educators believe that having the ability to teach students about scientific concepts such as evolution and global warming is of upmost importance to New Mexico students.

According to a special report by KRQE News 13, It has been suggested by New Mexico educators that the changes have come about as a way for local government officials to attempt to avoid teaching students about scientific concepts that could highlight the toll that the oil and gas industries are taking on the environment. It is believed that special interest groups have a hand in the proposed curriculum changes, though so far, none have been identified specifically and officials connected to the proposed changes have maintained their stance that the proposed changes are designed to benefit teachers by giving them more control over their curriculum.

The changes are based on The Next Generation Science Standards, which is a set of guidelines which was released in 2013 to cover grades kindergarten through 12. According to the official website “The NGSS call for a three-dimensional approach to K–12 science instruction. This represents a significant transition from previous state standards. That’s why effective implementation demands a great deal of collaboration and patience among states, districts, schools, teachers, and students.” The website does not highlight which principals will be removed from curriculums under the proposed changes, or why, but the breakdown of key concepts on the sites standards page for Earth’s Systems, which mentions understanding changes in the earth over time, makes no mention of addressing or teaching students about climate change.

It appears that key concepts such as climate change and evolutionary science will remain in classrooms for now, however with many of the proposed changes remaining in place following public outcry, the debate is far from over and many questions still remain unanswered.

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