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Archive for Tuesday, June 11, 2013

State board approves new science standards

June 11, 2013

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— The Kansas State Board of Education today approved a new set of science standards that supporters say will give students a deeper understanding of science through more hands-on experience.

The Next Generation Science Standards were approved on an 8-2 vote after a lengthy public debate over both the science standards and the Common Core State Standards in reading and math, which the state board approved in 2010.

Dozens of teachers and district superintendents turned out for the meeting to show their support for both sets of standards, a marked contrast from the board's meeting last month when critics of the Common Core standards packed the meeting room to express their opposition.

"When I first read the NGSS, I was very excited to see it was just a clear description of what I've been striving toward for the past 10 years," said Julie Schwarting, a biology teacher at Free State High School in Lawrence and president of the Kansas Association of Biology Teachers. "It really included all of the things I think are great ways to teach science."

Free State High School science teacher Julie Schwarting urges the Kansas State Board of Education to approve the Next Generation Science Standards.

Free State High School science teacher Julie Schwarting urges the Kansas State Board of Education to approve the Next Generation Science Standards.

But the science standards have also drawn criticism from religious conservatives because they treat the evolution of species as a scientific fact and offer no discussion of religious-based theories such as creationism or intelligent design.

Rex Powell of Spring Hill, a member of Citizens for Objective Public Education, or COPE, said the new standards would teach, "that life is a random occurrence, not a creation."

"These are the tenets of non-theistic religion like atheism and religious humanism," Powell said, adding that they promote, "an atheistic world view in the minds of impressionable children. They are standards for religious indoctrination rather than objective science education that touches religious issues."

State board member Ken Willard, a Hutchinson Republican, said he shared that view. In a lengthy prepared statement that he read to the board, Willard said "both evolution and human-caused climate change are presented in these standards dogmatically," and that the standards amount to "little more than indoctrination in political correctness."

State Board of Education member Ken Willard (center), a Hutchinson Republican, voted against the Next Generation Science Standards, arguing they are not religiously neutral because of the way they treat evolution. Board member John Bacon (left), an Olathe Republican, also voted no. Steve Roberts (right), an Overland Park Republican, voted in favor of the standards, although he had reservations because they were written largely by professors from schools of education.

State Board of Education member Ken Willard (center), a Hutchinson Republican, voted against the Next Generation Science Standards, arguing they are not religiously neutral because of the way they treat evolution. Board member John Bacon (left), an Olathe Republican, also voted no. Steve Roberts (right), an Overland Park Republican, voted in favor of the standards, although he had reservations because they were written largely by professors from schools of education.

Willard and board member John Bacon, who also voted against the standards, once were part of a majority on the board which pushed through science standards in 2005 that deleted references to macro-evolution.

But that majority did not last. In 2006, voters elected a moderate majority, which immediately repealed those standards and replaced them with the current standards that emphasize evolution as a key principle of all science.

Common Core debate continues

Matt Krehbiel, the science program consultant for the Department of Education who led the Kansas committee in drafting the science standards, said that one of the best things about them is that the mesh together with the Common Core standards in reading and math, which the board approved in October 2010.

But the Common Core standards continue to be a source of heated political debate, even though the board has shown no indication that it intends to revisit them anytime soon.

During a lengthy "citizens open forum" portion of the meeting, scores of people turned out to express their support or opposition for those standards.

Critics, like State Rep. Allan Rothlisberg, a Republican from Geary County, argued that they represent a form of federal intrusion, and equated them to the recent scandals involving the IRS and the National Security Administration.

"We've seen in the news lately, obviously with the IRS spying on us," he said. "Why on Earth would we expect the (U.S.) Department of Education — which is not constitutionally authorized — to look out for our children? That's our responsibility."

And Roz Woody, a retired Air Force officer from Kansas City, Kan., said that if the abolitionist Frederick Douglas were alive today, "I believe he would view Common Core as a modern-day slave master.”

But Sandy Law, who described herself as a military spouse from Ft. Riley whose children have attended schools in five states, said she prefered having uniform standards that are common throughout the country.

"The Common Core State Standards will provide the consistent, rigorous standards that military children need to be successful," she said. "The continuity, consistency and clear expectations will greatly relieve stress on military families."

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  • Comments

    chootspa 1 year, 3 months ago

    I love the Orwellian name, "Citizens for Objective Public Education." Evolution is the objective standard, since it's the scientific consensus. It's not a religion nor a religious teaching, nor is it a belief shared only by atheists and secular humanists.

    The exact same thing can be said for climate change. Scientific consensus. Does not rely on nor exclude the belief in God. Is not a religious belief. Unlike evolution, I wouldn't say that denial is nearly exclusively religiously based. Sometimes it's just based on stupidity or greed.

    15

    kanzen2424 1 year, 3 months ago

    OMG! Evolution, climate change AND common Core Curriculum! Has the KSBE gone sane? What wonderful news for the children of Kansas, their future employers, and all purveyors of reason!

    20

    Cait McKnelly 1 year, 3 months ago

    "Has the KSBE gone sane?" My favoritest comment of the day. :)

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    chootspa 1 year, 3 months ago

    You win an Internet for that one.

    2

    Leslie Swearingen 1 year, 3 months ago

    Love the comment kanzen and it is spot on!

    0

    Brian Hall 1 year, 3 months ago

    "We've seen in the news lately, obviously with the IRS spying on us," [Allan Rothlisberg] said. "Why on Earth would we expect the (U.S.) Department of Education — which is not constitutionally authorized — to look out for our children? That's our responsibility."

    First of all, you are NOT looking out for our children considering money the state is giving to the schools is, what, at 1993 levels? Which makes sense because everything still costs what it did twenty years ago. Second of all, the IRS isn't spying on us, the NSA is. Maybe that's just a slip of the tongue--so many scandals going on--but you could at least try to keep them all straight.

    6

    verity 1 year, 3 months ago

    IRS, NSA, they both have an S in them, so easy to confuse when you read and comprehend on a second grade level.

    2

    tomatogrower 1 year, 3 months ago

    And what do Common Core Standards have to do with the US Department of Education? Why do these people continue spreading the lies about how Common Core was developed? Aaaack.

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    Lane Signal 1 year, 3 months ago

    I think Mr. Rothlisberg is just trying to bend the truth a little to equate the IRS scandal and the NSA revelation. (I'm not going to label the NSA news a scandal because, amazingly, no one in the Federal government seems the least bit ashamed of their conduct.) I think Rothlisberg wants to change the facts around because he does not want to come out against the NSA spying policy but he does want to scare us. So, he changes NSA to IRS and now he has a neat little taxes are evil, the liberal left is spying on you, thing. He's not about to let the facts get in the way of a good rant. I'm not saying he's smart, but I don't think the quote reflects him being stupid as much as it reflects him thinking his audience is stupid.

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    parrothead8 1 year, 3 months ago

    "But the science standards have also drawn criticism from religious conservatives because they treat the evolution of species as a scientific fact and offer no discussion of religious-based theories such as creationism or intelligent design."

    That's because evolution of species IS a scientific fact. Religious-based theories belong in the church and the home.

    14

    skull 1 year, 3 months ago

    Not in my home...keep your hocus-pocus zombie stories to yourself.

    0

    yourworstnightmare 1 year, 3 months ago

    Willard and Powell seem to be arguing that science not be taught as science, but rather as an exercise that is confirmatory of their ideology. Everything else must be attacked, ignored, or swept under the rug.

    The same process that brings us drugs and antibiotics and cancer treatments also brings us evolution and climate science.

    It seems like they are objecting to the whole of science itself.

    6

    verity 1 year, 3 months ago

    You're assuming that any kind of critical thought goes on in their brains. I doubt that they connect the dots. All they have to do is take their marching orders.

    3

    Shelley Bock 1 year, 3 months ago

    I've wondered to myself should those who deny science when it fails to suit their belief system, such as evolution or climate change, were to be denied the benefits of scientific thought, if they would still retain their opposition to teaching of such. Guess I see it as being you're either "all in" or "all out".

    0

    jimmyjms 1 year, 3 months ago

    "Steve Roberts (right), an Overland Park Republican, voted in favor of the standards, although he had reservations because they were written largely by professors from schools of education."

    Wow. Just...wow.

    6

    chootspa 1 year, 3 months ago

    I know, right? How dare educational experts write educational standards!

    7

    Shardwurm 1 year, 3 months ago

    That's almost as stupid as educational experts setting tuition rates right? Get off it. The Educastion Industry is nothing but a gigantic scam...and in case you didn't know it - local school districts set graduation requirements not the State. These are only recommendations.

    0

    Fred Whitehead Jr. 1 year, 3 months ago

    Where are the republican legislators and governer?? How could this happen in "Flyover and Bleeding Kansas"??

    I"ll bet that they are at work at this hour coming up with a state law prohibiting the influx of reason, responsibility, sanity and truth. Sam the Sham will sign willingly.

    4

    Enlightenment 1 year, 3 months ago

    Religious beliefs should never influence science teaching standards in public schools. In no way should religion interfere with public school curriculum or any level of government. There should be a litmus test to determine if religious motivation is present every time guidelines and legislation are proposed.

    On a similar note, Huckabee is telling churches to remove their tax free status. The premiss is that without government restrictions associated with tax free status, churches would be able to freely instruct followers how to vote and allow religion to have a greater influence on politics.

    4

    bansheenero 1 year, 3 months ago

    "And Roz Woody, a retired Air Force officer from Kansas City, Kan., said that if the abolitionist Frederick Douglas were alive today, 'I believe he would view Common Core as a modern-day slave master.'"

    This statement is appalling. I highly DOUBT that Frederick Douglas would view Common Core Standards as parallel to American slavery.

    2

    chootspa 1 year, 3 months ago

    Sadly, I doubt her statement was met with mocking laughter, as it should have been.

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    jafs 1 year, 3 months ago

    Of course you're right.

    In fact, he would probably be supportive of them, since they're an attempt to ensure that all kids, regardless of race or socioeconomic status, get a decent education.

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    tomatogrower 1 year, 3 months ago

    "Critics, like State Rep. Allan Rothlisberg, a Republican from Geary County, argued that they represent a form of federal intrusion, and equated them to the recent scandals involving the IRS and the National Security Administration."

    There really should be a test given before people are allowed to run for office. Why do these people continue to push the lies about the "federal intrusion". These standards were developed by educators, you know the people who are experts in education. What are this guy's credentials? Did he even graduate from high school? Or does he just lie on purpose, maybe he understands exactly what he is doing? They try to cover up their real motives with this phony concern for our children, but all they want to do is indoctrinate them into their religion. Teach your children religion at home, and if you don't like the schools, educate your kids at home. We are not a theocracy, at least not yet, and I hope never, ever. I'm too old to be a revolutionary.

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    Centerville 1 year, 3 months ago

    I wonder why the reporter didn't get around to mentioning the 'questionnaire' issued to each student. Or that each student can opt out of completing it.

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