SANTA FE – New Mexico’s public education secretary announced revisions will be made to proposed school science standards in response to a public outcry against the deletion or omission of references to global warming, evolution and the age of the Earth, in a statement released Tuesday.
Comments at a packed public hearing this week were overwhelmingly critical of state revisions to a set of standards developed by a consortium of states and the National Academy of Sciences.
The Public Education Department indicated that final standards will restore references to the 4.6 billion-year age of the Earth, the rise in global temperatures over the past century and the process of evolution due to genetic variation.
“We have listened to the thoughtful input received and will incorporate many of the suggestions into the New Mexico standards,” Public Education Secretary Christopher Ruszkowski said in a statement.
A complete version of the revised final standards is still being prepared and was not released.
Ruszkowski previously has defended the proposed standards as a way to give local families and teachers greater flexibility and local control around science materials, curriculum and content.
Major school districts, science teaching associations, leading scientists at a national weapons laboratory in New Mexico and others expressed fear that state revisions would short change students by leaving out fundamental components of earth sciences, global warming and genetics.
Scores of people at the public hearing urged the state to adopt an unedited version of Next Generation Science Standards.
Gregory Swift, a physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, said he was encouraged that the Public Education Department was redrafting the standards – though still cautious about the outcome.
“I’d like to see the whole set of changes,” he said. “To me this looks like a politician’s idea of a compromise by trying to give everybody something. But that’s not a solid adherence to the science.”