Dear friend of NCSE,

New Mexico needs your help. A proposed set of new state science standards systematically downgrades the treatment of evolution, the age of the earth, and climate change.

Now is the time to insist on the importance of climate science, evolution, and the nature of science in New Mexico science education.

WHAT'S WRONG WITH THE STANDARDS

The proposed standards are based on the performance expectations of the Next Generation Science Standards, with a handful of New-Mexico-specific performance expectations added. (Earlier in 2017, the legislature passed a bill that would have required the adoption of the whole NGSS -- not limited to the performance expectations -- without any edits; the bill was vetoed by Governor Martinez.)

The ways in which the proposed standards diverge from NGSS are of particular concern. With regard to evolution, the inclusion of "possible" in 4-ESS1-1 NM, the removal of "4.6-billion-year-old" from MS-ESS1-4, the omission of the NGSS's MS-LS4-3 (on embryological evidence for evolution), and the revisions to HS-LS4-1 and HS-LS-4-2 all seem intended to placate creationists. With regard to climate change, the use of "fluctuations" rather than "rise" in MS-ESS3-5, MS-ESS3-5 NM, and HS-ESS3-5, the reference to "benefits" but not "drawbacks" in MS-ESS3-3 NM, the revisions to HS-ESS2-7 and the incoherent phrasing of HS-ESS2-4 NM, and the deletion of "due to human activity" in HS-ESS3-6 all seem intended to placate climate change deniers. I'm being terse for the sake of brevity; to see for yourself, you can download the proposed standards here and download the NGSS here (PDF).

The New Mexico Science Teachers Association is moreover concerned about the omission of important elements from the NGSS and the inclusion of the New-Mexico specific performance expectations as standards. The NMSTA -- representing the people who will be most involved with implementing new science standards -- therefore favors adoption of the entire NGSS unedited, according to a recent statement.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

  1. You can submit written comments on the standards. The Public Education Department is accepting comments on the proposed standards until 5:00 p.m. Mountain on October 16, 2017. Comments may be sent via mail to Jamie Gonzales, Policy Division, New Mexico Public Education Department, Room 101, 300 Don Gaspar Avenue, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501, or by electronic mail at rule.feedback@state.nm.us, or fax to (505) 827-6681.
  2. You can testify at a public hearing on the standards. There will be a public hearing on the proposed standards from 9:00 a.m. to noon on October 16, 2017, in Mabry Hall at the Jerry Apodaca Education Building, 300 Don Gaspar Ave. in Santa Fe. You will have only three minutes to speak, so prepare and rehearse your remarks accordingly. Written comments will also be accepted at the meeting
  3. You can speak out in public. You can write letters to the editor, or even opinion columns, for your local newspapers, call in to your local radio talk shows, speak at community events, and so forth.
  4. You can recruit others to speak out. Ask your friends and family, your colleagues and neighbors, to submit comments on the standards, testify at the public hearing, and speak out in public. Consider asking employers, professional societies, etc., to take a stand against the proposed standards.
  5. You can let NCSE know what you're doing and how we can help. Remember, NCSE specializes in helping people resist attempts to compromise the integrity of science education: we have a lot of experience with situations like this and we're eager to do what we can to help you

WHAT TO SAY

  • Most important: say that you oppose the proposed standards because their scientific accuracy on evolution, the age of the earth, and human impact on climate change has been compromised. You can be as specific as you like -- the especially problematic standards are listed above -- or you can keep it general.
  • You can cite the opposition to the proposed standards from the New Mexico Science Teachers Association, the National Science Teachers Association, and the NEA-New Mexico -- all representing the science teachers who will be most involved with implementing new science standards.
  • If you have a particular stake in the standards, say so. Your comments will be more effective if you explain why you care. If you're a parent, you want your children to receive the best possible scientific education; if you're a science teacher, you need for the standards to be accurate; if you're a university professor, you expect incoming students to have a proper understanding of evolution and climate science; if you're an employer, you need workers with a basic level of scientific literacy; and so forth.
  • You can also, if you wish, say that you favor the adoption of the entire NGSS unedited instead of the proposed standards. You can note that eighteen states have already adopted the NGSS, and that adoption of the NGSS is favored by the New Mexico Science Teachers Association, the state legislature, and the Public Education Department's own Math and Science Advisory Council.

You may find it helpful to review the press coverage of the proposed new standards. For NCSE's coverage of events in New Mexico, visit:

It's important for the Public Education Department to understand that there's widespread and principled support for the inclusion of a scientifically accurate and pedagogically appropriate treatment of evolution and climate change in the state science standards. And it's up to you to make sure that it does: please act today.

Many thanks,

Glenn Branch
Deputy Director

P.S. NCSE’s work is only possible because of the generous support of people like you. Your donation of $100, $40, or even $10 will make us stronger and better prepared for the coming fights.