Home » Education » The Next Generation of Science Standards – Voyage of Exploration or Political Battleground?

The Next Generation of Science Standards – Voyage of Exploration or Political Battleground?

The education world is abuzz with news of new nationwide science standards.  They’re dubbed “Next Generation Science Standards” (NGSS).

NGSS was developed by individuals from 27 states, supported by the National Research Council, National Science Teachers Association, American Association for the Advancement of Science, and some group called Achieve.

The developers also want U.S. students to be more competitive globally.  It’s well known that American students, once at the top, are far behind their international peers.

The nominal purpose behind these standards is to update what is out of date in science education.  That makes sense.  Science, after all, is continually advancing as scientists learn more about our planet and the universe.

But I (and many others) think it’s politically motivated.

NGSS is also supposedly aligned with Common Core (CCSS).  I can’t verify that, since I’m not familiar with CCSS.  Common Core is a controversial curriculum that has many conservatives upset over liberal indoctrination of kids.

So I took a look at the NGSS for myself.

A lot of it is pretty standard stuff, like “Plants depend on water and light to grow” and “Objects in contact exert forces on each other.”  There’s also a lot of emphasis on the scientific method, with standards like “Asking questions, making observations, and gathering information are helpful in thinking about problems.”

The elementary standards are pretty harmless.  There were some things like “Human activities in agriculture, industry, and everyday life have had major effects on the land, vegetation, streams, ocean, air, and even outer space.  But individuals and communities are doing things to help protect Earth’s resources and environments.”

It’s a little overblown (seriously?  major effects on outer space?), but it’s undeniable that mankind has changed the environment considerably, and the standard still leaves a lot open to interpretation.

It wasn’t until I got to the middle school standards that I found anything actually objectionable, like this: “[The fossil record] documents the existence, diversity, extinction, and change of many life forms throughout the history of life on Earth.”  Of course, the only objectionable part of that was “change,” since, after all, the fossil record certainly does not show any evidence of animals changing.

I was just about to give up and not worry about the NGSS any more when I saw this: “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).”

There it is.  The NGSS blames global warming on the burning of fossil fuels.

The high school standards just get worse, with more explicit teaching on evolution and how human beings are destroying the planet.  Then they try to recruit students into the green movement.

Want to see them for yourself?  Here are the Next Generation Science Standards, in PDF form, from the NGSS website.   Other information is from New science standards have America’s education publishers turning the page on Fox News

NGSS is not mandatory; it will be up to individual states to adopt them.

However, Pearson and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, two of the big three textbook publishers, are already looking into updating their books using the NGSS.  So if your school uses Pearson or Houghton Mifflin textbooks, the decision is already out of the hands of your state legislature.  McGraw-Hill Education will wait to see what the states decide to do before any possible revisions.

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2 Comments

  1. Mikey Gee says:

    Seems pretty standard description of what the scientific community actually believes.

    Also according to SciShow there is a lot, a lot of space garage. There is actually a fair amount of danger to space stations and satellites.

    • It’s what the liberal scientific community believes. There are plenty of scientists out there who disagree, but they get smeared as creationist flat-earth nutcases.

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