By JaKell Sullivan and Christel Swasey
Common science standards, the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are gleefully trending all over the nation now, birthed by the same folks who pushed Common Core English and Math (Achieve, Inc., David Coleman’s baby and US Delivery Institute, Pearson CEA Michael Barber’s baby.
Many states have rejected, or are wisely in the middle of debating rejecting, the common science standards.
South Carolina utterly rejected them. Wyoming’s legislature rejected them, in a move Truth in American Education called “a victory for objectivity and neutrality in science education.” (Read Wyoming citizens’ testimonies and more on Wyoming’s decision here.)
Meanwhile, in Kansas, Citizens for Objective Public Education (COPE) have filed a federal law suit against the state school board and the state department of education for pushing NGSS in violation of the first and fourth amendments to the Constitution. In Kentucky, legislators wrote a bill to potentially reject the NGSS science standards, while Ohio passed a bill that made multi-state control of standards — including science standards– illegal.
So what about Utah? Aren’t we discussing this and vetting these standards thoroughly here? No, we are not.
Here in Utah, no legislator has written any bill to consider rejecting NGSS. Search the internet, and you’ll find there’s nothing in the legislature nor in recent news at all about NGSS in Utah.
A year ago there was. The then-chairwoman of the state school board Debra Roberts promised that Utah had no plans to adopt the NGSS standards although Utah would revise science standards. She said, “they will be uniquely Utah standards”. That turned out to be untrue.
Quietly, under the public radar, Utah’s Office of Education (USOE) is rushing forward to align with the national science standards without public knowledge. I did a quick word search on the Utah State Office of Education website for “Next generation science standards” and found 143 references to it in USOE-published pdf’s and professional development conferences. Right now, a Utah science standards review committee is reviewing Utah’s current science standards and is comparing them with NGSS national science standards.
According to a Utah law HB342, a committee including a handful of parents must “review and recommend” to the board any new revisions to curriculum. Some of those parents aren’t happy about being herded toward approving matching Utah’s science standards to NGSS science. They say it’s abundantly clear that the Utah State Office of Education wants the NGSS standards here in Utah.
Of course, the feeling is mutual; NGSS wants to be in Utah. That’s obvious since “Education First” of Utah (partner of NGSS) rolled out their (uncalled-for) five-year plan for Utah’s education system recently– and it so happens that “Education First” is not only partnered with the co-creators of NGSS: Achieve and US Delivery Institute but it also heavily promoted Common Core in propaganda mailings to the Utah legislature last year. Most likely, Education First will be promoting NGSS in similar legislator mailings and Prosperity 2020 radio spots– after they’ve been adopted, as was the case with Common Core.
Still, by law, it’s not Education First or its partners who have authority to set education policy or standards or create five-year plans. Even the USOE lacks that authority. It’s only the State School Board –with the assistance of the parent committee– who is supposed to weigh in.
Profound problems are being reported by the few parents who are allowed to weigh in on these standards.
1- First, oddly, some of the same individuals are serving on both the new science standards writing committee and the review committee. That is like the judge judging himself.
2- Second, the “new and improved” Utah science standards currently being “reviewed” by parents just so happen to be 99.9% the same as the national, standardized Next Generation Science Standards, according to parents currently on that committee.
3- Third, parents note that even thought the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) does not have legal authority to make new science standards for Utah schools; the Utah State School Board does; yet the board has not been in charge of this science standards-altering process; the USOE took it over.
4- Fourth: NGSS science standards –to which Utah’s aiming to align– do come from the same private business people who brought us Common Core math and English standards: Achieve Inc., David Coleman, etc. , yet the claim is that these science standards have nothing to do with Common Core.
5- Fifth: Most importantly– NGSS are not scientifically neutral or objective. The NGSS Frameworks and Standards promote every tenet of a belief system called secular humanism, as listed in Humanist Manifesto III. This is not separating church and state; it is creating a dogma of anti-religion as a religion.
To understand #5, jump to the Kansas law suit on this issue.
In December of last year, Citizens for Objective Public Education (COPE) filed suit in federal court against the Kansas State Board of Education and the Kansas Department of Education to stop implementation of science standards designed for every child in the United States. Why?
The suit says that NGSS science standards aren’t objective nor neutral science standards. Rather than showing multiple beliefs about the origin and end of life, they adhere religiously to the humanistic/atheistic view of science, which is, ironically, pushing religion: the anti-religion religion. This violates the Constitution’s first and fourteenth amendments. NGSS pushers try to argue that anyone opposed to NGSS is for teaching another religion in the classroom. Actually, the opposite is true. It is the NGSS which promotes its religion of atheism and secular humanism represented in NGSS. That’s not only not objective, not neutral, and not scientific; it’s also a violation of law. Pushing secular humanism and atheism (and controversial environmental issues) as if they were settled facts is, ironically, unscientific.
In the words of John Calvert, lead counsel for the plaintiffs:
“This case is actually about a concealed Orthodoxy that requires all explanations provided by science to be materialistic/atheistic.”
A press release from Citizens for Objective Public Education states, “The Orthodoxy is not religiously neutral as it permits only the materialistic/atheistic answers to ultimate religious questions. The concealed use of the Orthodoxy in [Frameworks & Standards] has the effect of promoting the core tenets of non-theistic religions like Atheism and Religious (secular) Humanism.”
The press release lists mechanisms and strategies used by the NGSS Frameworks and Standards to establish the materialistic/atheistic worldview:
- Systematic omissions and misrepresentations
- Teaching materialistic/atheistic ideas to primary children whose minds are susceptible to blindly accepting them
- Programs designed to become habits of mind
- Implicit exclusion of theists from provisions that require education to promote “equity,” diversity and non-discrimination
How did NGSS (and how did Common Core) make such strides across America? Here’s how.
1. State Offices of Education now only exist to pedal federal programs that are administrative in nature, not Constitutional. We’ve strayed not only from our national Constitution but from our Utah Constitution also. Rather than allow the state school board to truly set standards, the USOE offices run the educational show, unaccountable to anyone.
2. Both the Common Core Standards and NGSS and the new AP History Standards come with Appendices and Federal Frameworks and implementation handbooks to control adoption, curriculum and how teachers teach.
The NGSS come with a written Framework in order to control what/how teachers teach. What is tested is what will have to be taught.
Does anyone wonder why SAGE tests, already administered statewide last year, INCLUDED SCIENCE questions? Wasn’t the original claim that Common Core standards just included math and English? Nope. The AIR/SAGE tests were already set up to test the NGSS from the start. The Utah State Office of Education (USOE) knew that we would essentially be adopting the NGSS.
The USOE’s deceptive relationship with AIR and deceptions to the State Board and to parents of Utah have to be stopped. The USOE knows that the Common Core Standards’ Appendices and NGSS Framework will control what/how teachers teach and they know that SAGE tests are already set up to test NGSS.
The parent committee to review the science standards is a mockery of the Utah law that set it up. Meanwhile, NGSS also goes out of its way to create, in its NGSS Implementation workbook a long list for states of useful “Members of a Guiding Coalition” but parents are excluded from the recommended coalition member list. Oversight? Hardly.
The guiding coalition of those who should adopt and implement NGSS standards is officially defined this way: “a small group of highly visible and credible leaders who share your aspiration and will sustain your effort and will implement NGSS in the face of pushback...” (This reminds me of the way the USOE has gone out of its way to marginalize, demonize, or simply ignore parent pushback while it told the public that appendices and frameworks would not control Utah education at the local level.) Here are those links, for reference:
Common Core Appendices (For English Standards):
Common Core Appendix (For Math):
Common Core Framework (Next Generation Science Standards):
Note that the Science Standards report admits the purpose of its framework: “Students will make the greatest strides in learning science and engineering when all components of the system—from professional development for teachers to curricula and assessments to time allocated for these subjects during the school day—are aligned with the vision of the framework.”
3. The College Board, under the direction of David Coleman, Common Core’s architect, is revamping ALL AP Courses to include Federal Frameworks to control curriculum and pedagogy. For example:
AP U.S. History Curriculum Framework
AP U.S. History Curriculum Framework Evidence Planner for Teachers (teachers manual)
4. Big-Government and Big-Business both within Utah and elsewhere are profiting from federal reforms that these Appendices and Frameworks require of states. This includes federal programs to retrain principals and teachers to “trust that data” and federally funded programs to implement 1-to-1 technology in schools.
Last week, the Governor’s committee chair, Rich Kendall, along with the Salt Lake Chamber and Education First, unveiled their 5-year education plan. No teacher or school board or parental input was needed. This plan hinges on Common Core’s English and math standards now (and will no doubt eventually include all of Utah’s standards that will be aligned to Common Core for the profit of business, not to profit or protect our children.
Education First and the Governor’s Prosperity 2020 really must believe that parents don’t see what’s going on. The entire standards review process is political theater—and parents, teachers, and local school districts are being played for patsies.
5. The Appendices and Federal Frameworks function to dismantle local education control because he who controls the testing, controls the teachers. These Frameworks are embedded into the AIR/SAGE tests and in 1-to-1 technology, coming to our schools via federal funding.
6. As the Federal Frameworks work with business powers to dismantle local education control, we will see our representative form of government dismantled. The Federal Executive Branch is effectively corralling states by using administrative law, bypassing Constitutional law.
Let’s stop the “Next Generation Science Standards”.