Utah’s State Office of Education appears to be, once again, quite secretively rubber-stamping controversial and politically loaded national standards and calling them Utah’s own standards– this time, for science.
The English and math deception happened a few years ago when the USOE did the same thing with the adoption of Common Core’s math and English national standards, calling them “Utah Core Standards”.
This week, when the Utah State School Board meets, it will discuss statewide changes to science standards. They do not openly admit that in fact the Utah draft mirrors the controversial NGSS standards. In fact, the official statement from the State Office of Education states nothing about Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) but the new “Utah” science standards drafts have now been exposed as the very same as the NGSS Standards– by multiple parents who serve on the Utah parent committee for science standards.
Vincent Newmeyer, one of the parents who serves on the parent committee, has given permission to share his response to the revised standards. He says that he is alarmed at the errors and unfitness of these standards for Utah students as well as the deceptiveness of the rewriting committee.
He explains that the Utah rewriting committee appears to be attempting to hide, by renumbering or rearranging, the truth that the new Utah standards are just NGSS standards. He notes:
“Utah’s science standards rewriting committee has removed all but the performance expectations [from national NGSS] and renumbered them. A few performance expectation sequences have been rearranged and one new NGSS standard was inserted. The Performance Expectations are essentially identical to what they were in the previous draft. Again, in the introductory material it is still claimed to be Utah grown standards, perhaps because Brett Moulding from Utah is the chair of the NGSS writing committee. These performance expectations as prepared are only one word different from the published NGSS Performance Expectations –yet again there is no attribution to NGSS.”
He points to the NGSS national science standards guidelines which state: “States… that have adopted or are in the process of adopting the NGSS in whole shall be exempt from this Attribution and Copyright notice provision of this license.” Newmeyer points out that Utah is either in the process of adopting national science standards in whole, or are infringing on copyright. –So, which is it?
Newmeyer goes on: “Though we are just looking at grades 6-8, it is inconceivable that our state would adopt 6-8 (even if slightly modified) and then settle on a totally different standard for other grades, especially when you consider the desire to have a cohesive and progressively building program. So in fact we are not just looking at grades 6-8. We are laying a precedent for the adoption of NGSS for all grades with additional material not even considered.”
Why must we as parents, teachers and scientists, oppose it?
1. Control. Our state loses local control of teaching students what we accept as scientifically important and true, when we adopt NGSS standards rather than using standards we have researched and studied and compiled on our own. We further lose control when we then test students using these national science standards that are aligned to the philosophies (and data mining structures) of the federal agenda.
2. Content. Vincent Newmeyer explains that some of the standards are based on recognized fallacies, and others on controversial assumptions. Failing to properly research and vet these standards publically is unethical and unscientific.
For example, Newmeyer asks us to look at “the newly renumbered but present all along standard number 7.2.2 : “Analyze displays of pictorial data to compare patterns of similarities in the embryological development across multiple species to identify relationships not evident in the fully formed anatomy.” This leads students to favor the Darwinian Evolutionary view –which has solid counterpoints arguing precisely the opposite view. Newmeyer explains that although it is true that we can find similarities in embryos, still “if studied in detail we find differences that completely undermine the whole premise of why they inserted this performance expectation. In the standard they are not looking at the differences.”
Even those who actively defend the Darwinian view of common ancestry who have looked at the data see the weakness of the argument, says Newmeyer. He questions why we want to teach it in Utah as if it were settled science. There are also standards that promote the controversial global warming paradigm, and there are other content problems in the NGSS standards.
Utah’s already using the standardized test developed by American Institutes for Research (SAGE) which includes science, English and math standards aligned to the nationally pushed agenda. So the USOE is not going to want to go in another direction. But it must. If enough parents, teachers and scientists pelter the Utah State School Board and Utah State Office of Education and legislature with firm “NO to NGSS” emails, phone calls and personal visits, they can’t get away with this like they did with Common Core.
A few months ago, a concerned Utah State School Board member contacted every single one of the science teachers who were in her constituency district, asking them how they felt about NGSS. She reported that every single one of them said that they wanted to keep Utah’s current science standards and they rejected NGSS. Every last teacher.
South Carolina rejected the national science standards. So did Wyoming. Kansas is fighting a law suit about it. Are we going to do nothing in Utah to defend scientific objectivity and neutrality, not to mention defending the power and right to local control?
There will be a 90-day comment period. You can also attend and speak up (2 min max) at the state school board meetings if you request time in advance. Please participate.