Archive for Monday, June 10, 2013

State education board set to act on science standards

June 10, 2013


The Kansas State Board of Education is scheduled to vote Tuesday on whether to adopt a new set of science standards that have already stirred controversy in the Kansas Legislature and in some corners of the public.

But it is not yet clear whether the board will actually vote on the science standards Tuesday. Some board members have indicated they may want more time to study the standards before voting.

In addition, a number of local superintendents have indicated they want to speak during the "citizens open forum" portion of the meeting to express support for the Common Core standards in reading and math, which have also come under intense political opposition.

Last month, dozens of people opposed to the Common Core standards packed the state board meeting, pleading with the board not to go forward with those standards.

Last week, opponents of both sets of standards narrowly failed to pass legislation that would have blocked the state board from adopting the science standards.

It also would have created a new legislative oversight panel to study the Common Core standards and make recommendations in 2014 about whether the Legislature should cut off funding for future implementation of them.

Kansas was among the 26 states that led development of the Next Generation Science Standards.

The project was initiated by the National Research Council, the National Science Teachers Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Achieve, a nonprofit corporation that was also involved in developing the Common Core State Standards in English language arts and math.

Similar efforts have been organized in other state capitals around the country, mainly by Tea Party-backed organizations who argue that both sets of standards mark a trend toward nationalizing education at the expense of local control.

But advocates argue that the new standards set higher expectations for students and are more geared to ensuring that students are ready to enter college or the workplace after graduating high school.

In particular, they say the Next Generation Science Standards are designed to focus on fewer subjects, but to give students a deeper understanding of them, especially through hands-on experience in working with scientific concepts.

Earlier debates over science standards in Kansas have been marked by controversy over the teaching of evolution, and some critics have targeted the Next Generation Science Standards over that issue as well.

The standards have also come under attack over the teaching of climate change, with some arguing that the standards try to indoctrinate students into accepting the idea that humans are causing climate change.

But those issues are unlikely to affect the state board's vote tomorrow.

A solid majority of the current members campaigned on the promise to support teaching evolution and to oppose teaching alternative theories like creationism or intelligent design. And so far, at least, none has indicated a desire to wade into a political debate about climate change.

In other business, the state board will review other legislation that was passed during the 2013 session, including the Coalition of Innovative Districts Act which allows up to 10 percent of school districts to exempt themselves from most state laws and regulations.

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Garth Atchison 2 years, 4 months ago

You are willfully ignorant if you can't accept climate change as an inevitable fact. If one species has left a mark on this planet it is human beings. I think the weather has been off since the 90's and has trended towards larger hurricanes, periodic flooding and drought--extremes of weather and climate. You can't act like nothing has changed, unless you are willfully ignoring all aspects of your environment. Don't even get me started on ground water pollution and air pollution.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 2 years, 4 months ago

I encourage you to get started on groundwater and air pollution.

jafs 2 years, 3 months ago

That logic is flawed.

We don't need to know exactly what happened millions of years ago to know what's happening today.

question4u 2 years, 4 months ago

"Similar efforts have been organized in other state capitals around the country, mainly by Tea Party-backed organizations..."

In other words, the least educated and least qualified people in the country.

Now let's get a group of nuns to determine standards for the Kansas National Guard. (Although, of course, there shouldn't be a Kansas "National" Guard in the first place because it just exists "at the expense of local control.")

chootspa 2 years, 4 months ago

It's the sheeple most likely to act on behalf of corporate polluters in their quest to teach religion in science class. The tea party types - not the nuns. Most of the nuns I've met have been cool with that whole evolution thing.

chootspa 2 years, 3 months ago

I'm not seeing a big list of the worst corporate polluters there, now am I? Where's big oil? Exxon? The Waltons? The Kochs? Oh right, they're funding the Heartland Institute, which is producing the "facts" for those fact sheets listed on the site you just linked, oh newly created ID with only posts against Common Core.

When I look at those "stop common core" groups like the one you listed, I see a very suspiciously similar structure. All of them seem to have resources for homeschoolers, too. Interesting demographic to target for a group pretending to work toward the improvement of public schools, don't you think?

John Kyle 2 years, 4 months ago

Why do you even report this tea party ignorance? Can't we just ignore these stupid people? Peter, why didn't you explain more about the common core standards instead of giving us multiple paranoid quotes from tea baggers?

Peter Hancock 2 years, 4 months ago

Queequeg - Please see these stories:

New Common Core standards to reshape teaching

Suggested readings about the Common Core controversy, pro and con

chootspa 2 years, 4 months ago

If the ignorant tea party types had no sway in the state, it wouldn't be newsworthy. Alas, they held the budget hostage this year over a (thankfully failed) measure to knock out Common Core standards.

Chris Golledge 2 years, 4 months ago

I read the article at the link under " try to indoctrinate students ", and the author cited works by the Heartland Institute. In case you are not aware, that is not a research institution. It receives funding to produce write-ups that support what the donors want, but there is no research involved. So, what the auther is saying is that "there is not [sic] consensus on this topic" amoungst those who do not know what they are talking about.

About the basic science as proposed in the standards, there is no debate whatsoever by anyone with even an introductory level of understanding of the physical sciences. The "dozens of people opposed to the Common Core standards" might as well be saying, please don't teach our kids real world science.

NotImpressed 2 years, 3 months ago

It's amazing that these "science revoltists" can figure out how to get their new-fangled shoes on each day.

verity 2 years, 3 months ago

Why are people so afraid of a search for truth/facts?

Well, thinking about it, that is a dumb question. When truth comes in conflict with ideology, true believers must convince themselves that facts are not true or the whole foundation of their lives would crumble. They really don't have the faith that they claim to have or they wouldn't be so threatened.

For many politicians it may be more a matter of political expediency than belief.

George_Braziller 2 years, 3 months ago

Oh what a surprise. The State BOE and Legislature battling it out AGAIN. It's always about political ideology rather than solid educational standards.

Bryan Moore 2 years, 3 months ago

I read the article and I didn't see "Common Core" mentioned, maybe I missed it. I did read about "inbloom" which is a nonprofit supported by the B&M Gates Foundation. I know that the B&MGF also supports Common Core but I didn't see anywhere that it said they are tied together. Do you have info that it is a package deal?

chootspa 2 years, 3 months ago

It's not. Furthermore, I don't find the idea of centralized student objective tracking to be that ominous. Schools already track students. It just becomes a pain when transferring a child between schools that use different systems. Shouldn't the teachers know whether a second grader knows how to read fluently or add double digits? Shouldn't it be easier to target lessons toward a student that lacks those particular skills?

chootspa 2 years, 3 months ago

Nope. I don't find your tin foil hat to be a good fashion statement, one issue poster who just registered for an account last month. Nor do I find IRS questionnaires to be onerous or signs of bias. Their only sin was not asking for deeper analysis for all 501(c)(3) groups. Personally, I'd be rid of the designation entirely and require all issue groups to disclose donor lists. Care to bark up any other wrong trees? You'd have done better to invoke NSA, but even that would be a red herring to the sort of data tracking we'd be looking at for children.

We send our vulnerable kids to schools where teachers literally give their lives to protect our students. If I trust a teacher enough to take a bullet for my child or shield them from a tornado with their body, I can trust a teacher enough to correctly mark down whether they've mastered fourth grade science standards. Students are already protected by FERPA, btw.

Why yes, you get a feel for a student by working with them, and having a centralized record system doesn't preclude that. Wouldn't it be nice to know that there was a small but addressable hole in their skill set without having to give every transfer student a barrage of tests?

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