Several U.S. states are rejecting proposed science education standards which would promote several controversial issues, including evolution and man-made global warming.
In addition to the highly-publicized and hotly-debated Common Core educational curricula, many educators are encouraging states to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) program. Though NGSS is not directly affiliated with Common Core, the two programs share similar components and objectives.
According to a detailed analysis published by the creators of the NGSS program, the proposed science curricula would encourage the teaching of evolution and man-made climate change as substantiated theories. For example, the program would require high school students to learn “extensive scientific evidence” which allegedly supports evolutionary theory.
“Students demonstrate understanding of the factors causing natural selection and the process of evolution of species over time,” the NGSS description states. “They demonstrate understanding of how multiple lines of evidence contribute to the strength of scientific theories of natural selection and evolution. Students can … describe extensive scientific evidence ranging from the fossil record to genetic relationships among species that support the theory of biological evolution.”
The NGSS program would also require students to “communicate scientific information that common ancestry and biological evolution are supported by multiple lines of empirical evidence.”
In addition, the proposed science standards would mandate the teaching of human-caused climate change to middle school students. According to the standards, “fossil fuel combustion, cement production, and agricultural activity” are all culprits behind global temperature increases.
“Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century,” the guidelines command. “… Emphasis is on the major role that human activities play in causing the rise in global temperatures.”
“Human activities, such as the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, are major factors in the current rise in Earth’s mean surface temperature (global warming),” the curricula description claims.
High school students would also be expected to learn of the ill effects of human activity.
“Anthropogenic changes (induced by human activity) in the environment—including habitat destruction, pollution, introduction of invasive species, overexploitation, and climate change—can disrupt an ecosystem and threaten the survival of some species,” the standards say.
Though many educators are encouraging schools across the country to adopt the new science guidelines, several states have already rejected controversial portions of the standards. For example, Wyoming lawmakers said earlier this month they would not accept the proposed NGSS program.
“[The standards] handle global warming as settled science,” said Wyoming Representative Matt Teeters, according to Casper’s Star-Tribune. “There’s all kind of social implications involved in that that I don’t think would be good for Wyoming.”
Ron Micheli, chairman of the Wyoming Board of Education, agreed that climate change is not yet conclusively proven.
“I don’t accept, personally, that [climate change] is a fact,” he stated. “[The standards are] very prejudiced in my opinion against fossil-fuel development.”
Oklahoma lawmakers have likewise rejected the controversial educational standards, citing similar concerns with the curricula’s teaching of climate change. Mark McCullough, an Oklahoma state representative, suggested that the topic of climate change is largely driven by “hyperbole,” rather than by proven science.
Texas officials have also promised to not accept the proposed NGSS program. Barbara Cargill, chairwoman of the Texas Board of Education, said there is a “zero percent chance” the curricula will be used in Lone Star State schools.
The ongoing debate over the NGSS program is not the first time controversy has complicated discussions of climate change and other controversial topics in school settings. As previously reported, a lawmaker in Virginia was heavily criticized earlier this year for introducing a bill which encouraged open discussion of controversial scientific topics, including climate change.