In June, the Kentucky Board of Education officially adopted the Next Generation Science Standards with a goal of implementing them in the 2014-15 school year.
The content included in the curriculum has people across the state on the defensive, especially religious groups who insist the inclusion of lessons about evolution and climate change is offensive and will ostracize students with religious beliefs.
The standards have been called fascist, atheistic, socialist and a “threat to religious liberty.” Some say they imply that children are property of the state and others have gone as far as to say that they will escalate to promoting genocide and murder.
A little research into the formation of the standards and the skills and concepts they teach shows the opposite.
The federal government was not involved with the development of the NGSS. The system is state-led, was created by a coalition made of members in 26 states—including Kentucky—and it will be up to states to implement them.
Rhode Island, Kansas, Maryland and Vermont have already implemented the standards.
As one biology professor pointed out, other states are attracting biotechnology companies. Kentucky could be left out of industrial development without teaching our future biologists and engineers the newest scientific concepts.
Kentucky’s current standards on biological evolution haven’t been updated since 2006.
The changes will supplement basic information with the newest research.
We owe it to our students to keep them up-to-date, not teach them information that hasn’t been updated in seven years.
On climate change, instead of stopping at just teaching mechanisms behind weather, the new standards ask students to consider the impact people have on climate.
How is considering our impact on our world irrational or ostracizing?
We should embrace the bigger picture by looking at the skills and techniques the standards strive to teach, not debate over the details.
Whether you agree with the concepts or not, the standards are based on scientific evidence and changes are necessary for Kentucky to keep up with other states and allow for students to prepare for college and careers, rather than be left in the dark and labeled as scientifically ignorant.
The goal is not to debunk faith, but rather to equip students with the skills needed to do in-depth research and make their own decisions based on that research.
Our students need proficiency in the skills emphasized by the Next Generation Science Standards. These skills are needed for collegiate and professional success and will enable our young people to be contributing members of society in a world fueled by science and technology. We owe it to them to teach them the most current and innovative information available and to do so uniformly so our future workforce is all on the same page.
Thursday, the Kentucky Board of Education approved a state Department of Education report on the standards and now they pass on to the Kentucky General Assembly for approval.
For legislators to refuse their passage would be a disservice to our students.