The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

Next Generation Science Standards Fight Back Against Creationism & Global Warming Denial

Posted by mattusmaximus on March 27, 2013

Some time ago I posted about the Next Generation Science Standards (in the United States) and how important it is for teachers and those who support science and education to speak up about the NGSS.  Since then I have been fortunate enough to get more involved with this process, learn more about NGSS, and think ahead about its implementation.

First of all, let me note that I got all this information first-hand from Dr. Carol Baker, who is a member of the writing team for the NGSS and who also gave me and my colleagues an excellent presentation on the topic.  Some facts I think are important for everyone to know about the NGSS:

*It is not a federal mandate.  The NGSS is funded by private organizations – most especially by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching – and it is a collaborative effort between these private sources and a number of states in the U.S.  States may choose to accept the NGSS or not, but it should be noted that if they do accept them it will cost the states nothing.  Essentially, they get the standards for free!

*Right from the outset, the people organizing and drafting the NGSS wanted to get “buy in” from the states, so they invited every state in the country to send representatives to serve on the writing team for the standards.  26 states (called Lead States) sent representatives and have been directly involved in drafting thse standards as a result.  Here is some more information about these states (highlighted in blue below)

NGSS Lead States

So you can see that these states have a broad demographic representation, are bipartisan in breadth, and they also account for over 58% of public school students, and most require three years of science for high school graduation.

*As the NGSS were drafted, the writing team sought feedback from educators in the Lead States, and after the second round of such revisions almost 95% of the original draft has been reworked based upon this feedback.  So this is definitely a bottom-up process!

Now, I’d like to mention something very interesting about that last point: it ends up that one of the states which gave the most feedback was Kentucky (which was actually 3rd – beat out only by California and New York).  And it appears the vast majority of the feedback from Kentucky educators was in support of emphasizing evolution within the NGSS.

In fact, Dr. Baker (and I agree) seems to think that this is, in effect, a reaction to the Creation Museum residing in Kentucky and the subsequent trouble it makes for science teachers in that state.  It also appears that many teachers from many other states are likewise fed up with the political tactics employed by creationists and global warming deniers in their attempts to dumb down the teaching of evolution, climate science, etc.

Bottom line: Teachers are getting tired of this nonsense, and the NGSS is giving them a way to fight back in a very broad manner.  The NGSS emphasizes, unflinchingly and unapologetically, evolutionary and climate change science; the states that choose to adopt the NGSS will have the most up-to-date science standards that show creationism and global warming denial to be the pseudosciences that they are.  And they will be held to those standards.  Good, it’s about damn time!

I would like to close by sharing Dr. Baker’s response when questioned on this topic about the fight this could create.  She said, “Bring it on!”🙂

8 Responses to “Next Generation Science Standards Fight Back Against Creationism & Global Warming Denial”

  1. Woody said

    Teaching can be challenging enough without the intrusion of dogmatic BS. The work of NGSS is a wonderful thing for science and it’s teaching.
    But if we’ve learned anything about religious fundamentalists and the politicians that receive their cheques and kiss their arses, we’ve learned that they’ll keep fighting to cheapen the value of science through such new and innovative measures as re-naming Creationism and pushing it under its new name as a theory of equal value to evolution.
    Thats why ‘Skeptical Teacher’ will remain on my list of favourite blogs, mattusmaximas, you care as uch about scientific education as me and present to us the good news in our struggles against fundamentalist ignorance. Thank you.

  2. Rob said

    Any thoughts on the length and complexities of the NGSS? I think everything the NGSS group has come up with is pretty awesome, and the STEM focus is wonderful. However, the standards are incredibly long and complicated. This probably sounds like whining, but, how can we expect students to achieve all of these standards when a) teachers have very little time to read such a long document, let alone make sense of it and rework their classrooms and lesson plans and b) its been difficult to get students to achieve the standards that are already in place? I kind of feel like we’re trying to shoot the Moon and may be setting unrealistic goals. Thoughts?

    (PA high school physics teacher)

    • mattusmaximus said

      I had the same worries the first time I saw the NGSS draft; however, after attending a workshop and speaking with Dr. Baker, I no longer have those concerns. Once you get some time to sit down and see how it’s all laid out, the NGSS makes a ton of sense; this is especially because it focuses on quality as opposed to quantity. My advice is to look into attending some kind of workshop on the NGSS as soon as you are able. Check out their website – http://www.nextgenscience.org – for more details.

  3. […] Some time ago I posted about the Next Generation Science Standards (in the United States) and how important it is for teachers and those who support science and education to speak up about the NGSS…  […]

  4. […] Next Generation Science Standards Fight Back Against Creationism & Global Warming Denial […]

  5. […] the Next Generation Science Standards, which Kansas has recently adopted (mostly because they helped to actually write the standards), […]

  6. […] time ago, I wrote a post about how the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are going to push back hard against anti-scientists lik…  Well, our friends from the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) are reporting that a […]

  7. […] are filing a lawsuit to stop the implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards (since the NGSS promotes the teaching of evolution, which they claim it “promotes atheism”).  Read this report from the National Center […]

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