The Norman Transcript

Opinion

May 18, 2014

Opposition to new science standards a purely political statement

NORMAN — Editor, The Transcript

On May 12 the Oklahoma House Administrative Rules and Government Oversight Committee voted 10-1 to reject the proposed Oklahoma Academic Standards for Science, included in House Joint Resolution 1099. A rejection of proposed education standards by the legislature is unprecedented and nothing but censorship for political purposes.

The new standards (www.ok.gov/sde/sites/ok.gov.sde/files/Oklahoma Academic Standards for Science.pdf) were crafted by more than 500 teachers, scientists, education professionals and concerned citizens over the past year and a half. They were approved by the State Board of Education in March by a unanimous vote and are strongly supported by Supt. Barresi.

The Oklahoma Science Teachers Association observed that two dominant concerns were expressed by members of the House Committee. The first was the use of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) as a resource in creation of the new standards. The NGSS (www.nextgenscience.org/) were formulated in a state-led effort by major scientific organizations and technology corporations. NGSS is not a government program and is not a federal mandate. The new Oklahoma Standards do not mandate a specific curriculum or dictate how teachers should teach. Using consultation of NGSS in formulating the Oklahoma standards as an argument for the Committee to reject the entire standards document has no rational justification.

The second concern was coverage of weather and climate in early grade levels. Weather and climate science are already in the current PASS standards at the elementary school level. It appears that Committee members believe standards with any reference to climate might be used to force students to understand the science of climate change. Isn’t it ironic that a state with world class research on weather and climate would effectively reject that same science because teachers might broach the topic in 3rd or 4th grade?

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