The Utah State School Board —despite last year’s pushback, despite serious concerns of some of the state school board members– is now moving to adopt national, common standards for science. Watch this video to see the documented false promises by the USOE to legislators and local school board members, that Utah would never adopt nationalized science standards; this string of broken promises needs to be exposed and those breaking the promises need to be held accountable by our legislature and governor.
You are invited to the USOE’s public meetings on the subject, to be held statewide for a few weeks, starting TOMORROW.
Be forewarned: the USOE won’t admit that Utah is adopting NGSS. To know this bit of information, you have to be in touch with those parents who served on the science study committee. Utah indeed is (out of sight of the public) pushing for adoption of NGSS but the USOE claims that it’s only revising its old standards, and that the revision is limited to middle school science standards for now, so it’s not whole NGSS adoption, they say. But do your research. They’ve been caught fibbing more than once. And they are fibbing now.
So, what are the “Next Generation Science Standards” (NGSS) and why should we take time fight them?
NGSS are common Science Standards created by businessmen and politicians at Achieve, Inc., aimed to make all students use (and be tested on) the same set of science-related standards nationwide. Achieve, Inc., is the same group that pushed Common Core math and English into being. (So if you didn’t love Common Core, heads up.)
As with Common Core math and English standards, states lose control when they adopt NGSS. Achieve Inc., is private, so it’s not subject to sunshine laws– no transparency. So right or wrong, good or bad, we’ll have no way to even know which scientific theories are being accepted or rejected, or what kind of lobbying monies are determining priorities for learning. We will not be able to affect in any appeal to local boards, what our children will be taught or tested. That power will have gone to the standards copyright holders and corporate test creators. We have no method of un-electing those controllers, no way for our scientists to affect any amendments made in the ever-changing and politically charged future of science.
It is also tragically true that Fordham Institute rated NGSS as inferior to many states’ science standards. Still, many states, including Utah, are adopting NGSS anyway– a sad reminder of recent history, when certain states with prior standards higher than Common Core dropped their standards to be in Common Core. It’s also a sad proof that the claim that “the standards are higher and better for all” was nothing more than a marketing lie, then for English and math, and now for science.
There are important reasons that South Carolina officially rejected NGSS.
And so did Wyoming.
West Virginia is fighting about it.
It’s a hot topic in many other states.
But do Utahns even know it’s going on here? (How would they know unless they were personal friends of the parent review committee?) The USOE won’t even admit that Utah is aiming to adopt NGSS! To do Utah-specific homework on this, read this article. And this one.
Then come to the meeting. The USOE is calling the new standards “a revision” rather than a wholesale adoption of NGSS standards, in what appears to be an attempt to deceive the people. Parent committee members opposed to the change, including scientist Vincent Newberger, have pointed out that one word– one– was altered from NGSS standards in Utah’s “revision of its own standards” and some NGSS standards were only renumbered, so that the proponents could feel truthful about calling these standards a “revision” of Utah’s prior science standards rather than an adoption of national standards. The USOE’s open meetings are not, supposedly, to promote NGSS but are to promote what USOE calls a “revision of middle school science standards” only.
Parents need to take control of this conversation.
Ask yourself: 1) Is this revision actually an adoption of NGSS? 2) Do I want national science standards in Utah?
Answer one: If you read what parent committee members are testifying, you will conclude that this revision IS an adoption of NGSS.
Answer two: As with Common Core, we must push back against national science standards for two reasons: control of standards (liberty) and content of standards (academics).
Although parent committee members on Utah’s “revision” team testify that the content is global warming-centric, and electricity-dismissive, and testify that the standards present as facts, controversial theories only accepted by certain groups; to me, the enduring issue is control, local power.
If we adopt standards written by an unrepresentative, nonelected, central committee– standards that don’t come with an amendment process for future alterations as scientific theories and studies grow– we give away our personal power.
Even if these standards were unbiased and excellent, we should never, even for one second, consider adopting national/federally promoted standards– because science is ever-changing and ever politically charged. We are foolish to hand away our right to judge, to debate, to control, what we will be teaching our children, and to let unelected, unknown others decide which science topics will be marginalized while others are highlighted in the centrally controlled standards. Would we allow a nontransparent, unelected, distant group to rewrite the U.S. Constitution? Never. Then, why is representation and power concerning laws and policies affecting our children’s knowledge, beliefs and skills any less important?
Representation is nonexistent in NGSS standards adoption, despite the token cherrypicked teacher or professor who gets to contribute ideas to the new standards. Unless there is a written constitution for altering our standards so that we retain true control of what is taught, no federal or national standards should ever, ever be accepted. Adopting centralized standards is giving away the key to the local castle.
Are these just harmless, minimal standards without any teeth or enforcer? Hardly; the enforcement of the science standards is embedded in the nationally aligned tests, tests which carry such intense pressure for schools and students (school grading/shutdown; teacher evaluation/firing) that they have become the bullies of the educational system.
Know this: NGSS are neither neutral nor objective. This explains why pushback against NGSS is so strong in some states, even to the point of lawsuits against state school boards over NGSS. NGSS standards are slanted.
It may come as a surprise that religious freedom is a key complaint against these standards. This was pointed out by plaintiffs in the Kansas lawsuit, which alleged that implementation “will cause the state to infringe on the religious rights of parents, students and taxpayers under the Establishment, Free Exercise, Speech and Equal Protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution.”
The legal complaint stated that “the principal tool of indoctrination is the concealed use of an Orthodoxy known as methodological naturalism or scientific materialism. It holds that explanations of the cause and nature of natural phenomena may only use natural, material or mechanistic causes, and must assume that supernatural and teleological or design conceptions of nature are invalid. The Orthodoxy is an atheistic faith-based doctrine that has been candidly explained by Richard Lewontin, a prominent geneticist and evolutionary biologist, as follows:
“Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, thatwe are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.” [Richard Lewontin, Billions and Billions of Demons, 44 N.Y. Rev. of Books 31 (Jan. 9, 1997) (emphasis added)]
So, under NGSS, you can’t teach, as some scientists do, that evolution can exist alongside creationism. Under scientific materialism/methodological naturalism, any “design conception” is invalid.
Other complaints against NGSS science standards are that they pit environmental activism against activists who want freedom to use natural local resources; that they ask students to see themselves as either global warming believers or global warming deniers, to the exclusion of scientific inquiry; that they pit advocates of scientific open debate against advocates for scientific and political consensus-seeking; that they push the orthodox religion of atheism rather than allowing students to decide for themselves whether or not to include Creation in their personal scientific study.
Below is a list of the upcoming science meetings in Utah, where any citizen may come and ask questions and make comments.
Friends, we need to show up and bring neighbors. If too few Utahns find out and push back, the NGSS standards will slide right in like Common Core for math and English did. Please cancel your other plans. Bring your video cameras if you come. It’s an open, public meeting so recording seems proper and fair. Recording USOE official replies to questions from parents can only encourage accountability from the USOE to the citizens. If you can’t attend one of the meetings in the next weeks, please comment (and ask others to comment) on the USOE’s 90 day public comment survey link.
Before I list the meeting times and dates and cities, I want to share portions of an email sent out from a Washington County, Utah citizen to other citizens of Washington county. I don’t know who wrote this email:
Washington County Email:
“Washington County was settled by wise men and women who worked hard to make our red desert bloom. They have passed down a wonderful heritage of hard work and love for the land to all who have followed them. We are now reaping the fruits of the careful planning and preservation that has become a way of life to all who make Washington County their home. We desire to pass this heritage along to our children so that the generations to come will continue to be wise stewards of this land that we love.
It is hard to understand why anyone from Washington County would allow their children to be taught a science curriculum that does not align with our value system. Imagine how powerful it would be to teach our children the science behind why our soil is red, how ancient volcanos came to pepper our back yards with basalt rock, what made our sand dunes petrify, why dinosaur footprints can be found in farm land and what makes our sunsets so spectacular. As our children learn the unique science of the environment around them, they will have greater knowledge and appreciation of the diverse environments around the world. They will also come to appreciate the importance of being wise stewards wherever their paths may lead them.
We now have an opportunity to protect our right to teach our children. The Federal Government has incentivized groups to develop the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and those groups have worked tirelessly to get them implemented in Utah, and all states. Please come and learn more about the NGSS from Vincent Newmeyer, a member of the NGSS review committee. We will be meeting on Thursday, April 23rd at 6:00 P.M. at the St. George Downtown Library (88 W. 100 S. St. George). Mr. Newmeyer is one of the review committee members who have great concerns about the NGSS. These members are generously giving their time to visit communities to warn them about these new federal standards.
Directly following the meeting with Mr. Newmeyer, there will be a public meeting with the State and Local School Boards to discuss these federal standards tied to high-stakes testing onThursday, April 23rd at 7:00 P.M. at the Washington School District Office Board Room at 121 Tabernacle Street in St. George.”
USOE Public Feedback Meetings
All Meetings are 7 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Thursday, April 23
Washington School District Office
Location: Board Room
121 Tabernacle Street
St George, Utah 84770
Note: The main doors will be locked. Access through the front side doors.
Tuesday, April 28
Uintah School District Office
Location: Board Room (Upstairs)
635 West 200 South
Vernal, Utah 84078
Wednesday, May 6
Provo School District Office
Location: Professional Development Center
280 West 940 North
Provo, Utah 84604
Wednesday, May 13
Cache County School District Office
Location: Professional Development Center
2063 North 1200 East
North Logan, Utah 84341
Tuesday, May 19
Salt Lake Center for Science Education (SLCSE)
Location: The Media Center
1400 Goodwin Avenue
Salt Lake City, Utah 84116