Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sen. Mike Wilson: Science standards include troubling assumptions

I certainly agree that teaching critical thinking skills is vital to our future prosperity. Perhaps we should start with the Senate.

There may be a few climate change deniers who claim to be scientists, but there is actually little scientific debate. Humans have impacted the Earth's ecology greatly and our children need us to understand this impact sooner rather than later.

This from Sen Mike Wilson in the Courier-Journal:
Next Generation Science Standards were released April 9. They are based on the Framework for K-12 Science Education, developed by the National Research Council.

Sen. Mike Wilson
Sen. Mike Wilson
The standards place substantial emphasis on teaching climate change and there is considerable discussion describing human activities as major factors in global warming. There has been barely any mention in the local papers about this issue that will have long-lasting impact on the way our children are educated beyond a self-important swipe from the C-J Editorial Board.

The following are two statements from the NGSS:

• “Human activities, such as release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, are major factors in the current rise in Earth’s mean surface temperature.”

• “Outcomes predicted by global climate models strongly depend of the amounts of human-generated greenhouse gases added to the atmosphere each year.”

The National Research Council appears to be carving out positions and expressing the beliefs of U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

There are those in the scientific field who question the beliefs of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. A statement signed by 16 scientists listed several stubborn scientific facts contradicting the Intergovernmental Panel’s beliefs. Perhaps the most inconvenient fact is the lack of global warming for well over a decade and the smaller-than-predicted amount of warming over the 22 years since the Intergovernmental Panel began issuing projections.

Another area of contention is evolution. The standards make it clear that evolution is fundamental to understanding the life sciences. Generally, the standards focus on changes in gene pools, genetic mutations and effects of the environment on changes within species. The controversy arises with the statement that “Students can evaluate evidence of the conditions that may result in new species and understand the role of genetic variation in natural selection.” This is supposition and implies that one species may evolve into a different species. There is no factual evidence that this has ever occurred and to suppose that it happens is counter to the beliefs of many Kentuckians.

Standards should encourage teachers to create and foster an environment that promotes critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of multiple theories.

As chairman of the Education Committee and someone who supported the goals of Senate Bill 1, I would ask that these requirements be thoroughly and impartially reviewed and vetted. Political correctness bears watching and should never be the arbiter of learning.

No comments: