Environmental Education and the Next Generation Science Standards

Enjoyment in chemistry class

The debate over Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) has raised a lot of questions in Wyoming about environmental education. The NGSS seek to imbue students with a particular view regarding the manner in which humans should respond to climate change, sustainability, and other such issues.

Environmental science often reduces to matters of opinion about many controversial issues. The fact that the NGSS take a position on these issues seems to be inconsistent with the view of the U.S. Supreme Court that the state should not prescribe what is “orthodox in politics, religion, nationalism or other matters of opinion.” (West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette)

Several core ideas in NGSS, including this one, deal with the controversial issue of climate change: “Human activities, such as the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, are major factors in the current rise in Earth’s mean surface temperature (‘global warming’).”

While there is evidence that global temperatures may be slowly rising, the causes and future effects of “global warming” are still being debated. In particular, students should be aware that there is widespread debate among climate scientists over (a) the extent to which greenhouse gases (GHG) contribute to changes in global temperature, (b) the degree of climate sensitivity to atmospheric carbon dioxide, (c) whether the consequences of GHG warming will be net beneficial or net harmful, and (d) whether the benefits of any attempts to reduce GHG emissions would be worth the costs. The curriculum needs to be balanced and objective on this topic.

The general idea of protecting the environment and conserving natural resources is not controversial. However, environmental science deals with “politics, religion and other matters of opinion.” It is questionable whether schools should even address unsettled environmental issues with impressionable young minds. If environmental science issues are discussed, then the state assumes an enormous burden of presenting the issues objectively so that they will have a neutral effect. It seems clear that NGSS coverage of environmental issues like climate change lacks the necessary objectivity.

State Board of Education Considers What to Do about NGSS: Wyoming Citizens Opposing Common Core Reacts

April 11, 2014 – Casper Wyoming – State Board of Education Meeting

In a meeting characterized both by procedural irregularities and emotion, Wyoming’s State Board of Education ultimately sent the proposed science standards back to the Review Committee for reworking. While unclear how much of the Next Generation Science Standards could be included in the final product, board members voiced a need for A-rated standards that will benefit Wyoming students and be free of controversial assumptions. The committee will be allowed to use the NGSS as a model, but it appeared that using other state standards as models will be expected as well.

Public comment was rearranged on the agenda to allow comments to be heard before the vote on the outcome of the NGSS. A group called Climate Parents, some of whom we believe traveled in from out of state, organized statements to support the NGSS and the teaching of anthropogenic global warming in classrooms, and a teacher brought students to do so as well. However, the students did not appear either personally invested or prepared to articulate that position.

Wyoming Citizens Opposing Common Core also organized statements among participants who could attend the meeting.  Members pointed out that the budget footnote was the correct response of the Legislature to concerned citizens and expressed reasons to push for more academically sound and objective standards than the NGSS. We were joined by Representative Tom Reeder, Representative Lynn Hutchings and Michelle Sabrosky, who also contributed valuable testimony. We so appreciate the time everyone took out of their personal lives to make a strong showing at this meeting.

Several testifying, including both legislators, asserted this meeting or ANY consideration of NGSS, even as a model, is not legal given the budget footnote’s restriction on funds. In spite of this concern, the board proceeded to take action, and in the weeks to come, the legality of is the footnote will likely be investigated.

Some board members were anxious to adopt the NGSS for promulgation in spite of the legislature’s budget footnote “effective immediately” due to their own interpretation of the footnote’s effective date. Some board members like the NGSS and expressed concern we wouldn’t have “21st Century Standards” available immediately for our schools. Others clearly were in favor of making the rejection of the standards the Governor’s problem by forcing him to veto the vote for promulgation, as Mary Kay Hill said she would advise the Governor to do should the state board move forward and adopt these standards. However, the vote to adopt for promulgation ultimately failed this time.

The initial vote to send the standards back to the Review Committee also failed, as did a motion to approve the resolution by the Supervisory Committee members to stop this process and allow school districts to choose their own science standards. There was a great deal of contentious discussion, frustration and consultation with legal counsel during the entire meeting, which even went to executive session at one point. It was clear no one wanted to leave the room having done “nothing”, so it finally came back to a vote to reconsider the motion to send the standards back to the Review Committee, and that motion in the end passed.

It will be crucial now for citizens to monitor this process, participate in opportunities to contribute and be watchful for the necessary changes in the standards. As Mary Kay Hill stated as she outlined the position of the Governor’s office, citizen engagement like this is unprecedented and a great opportunity to have genuine, open discussion and participation. Our state can end up with academically sound standards that stay religiously neutral and scientifically objective and be the best in the country!

“Building the Machine” The Common Core MOVIE Available HERE!

 CCMovie

 “Building the Machine”

A gripping half-hour documentary that tells the story about the Common Core, one of the biggest national reforms to be adopted behind closed doors.

 HERE

Spread the word on social media and “Like” their page: https://www.facebook.com/BuildingtheMachine

Information on the movie  and the research behind it in their Press Release below:

Groundbreaking Documentary Sheds Light on Common Core 
Purcellville, VA — March 25, 2014

As the national conversation over the Common Core State Standards continues to heat up, one non-profit and an indie filmmaker are hoping that their upcoming documentary will shed light on an issue that they believe is a largely unknown problem. The film Building the Machine is about how Common Core came to be and how it will affect education for years to come.

The Home School Legal Defense Association’s department of Film and Visual Media has been working on the documentary for over a year and the film’s director believes it will make waves in the public debate over Common Core. “When I first started working on the film, I had very limited knowledge about the Common Core and how it made its way into our public schools,” Ian Reid, the film’s director, said. “At first it seems like an ideal solution to the commonly cited woes of an education system that is failing our students: After all, who wouldn’t want higher standards? But after more than a year of investigative research, and in-depth interviews with many on the inside of the education standards world, it was clear that there is much more to the implementation of the Common Core than merely ‘raising standards.’” 

The Common Core State Standards are the product of the National Governor’s Association, the Council of Chief State School Officials, education experts, and many wealthy backers like the Gates Foundation. The standards are being implemented in schools across 45 states. While the Constitution gives the federal government no direct authority over education, the government has created incentives for states to adopt the Common Core as a tactic for national curriculum. But many experts have voiced skepticism as to whether the standards are actually good for American children.

Our goal is to present a balanced investigative documentary, by interviewing experts on both sides of the issue—including some members of the Common Core Validation Committee,” said Reid, “and this led to a variety of fascinating discoveries about the culture war that is being waged in education right now. One of the most troubling was the clear difference between the two factions’ willingness to dialogue over this revolutionary change. Particularly, my team and I found that while many opponents to 
the Common Core were willing to speak out, only a small fraction of the supporters would engage in the discourse.”  

One thing that Reid finds most fascinating about the Common Core is that it erases party lines. “Common Core is not a typical liberals-versus-conservatives issue,” he said. “It’s an issue that concerns parents and the future of their child’s education, and I hope to get the message across that their ability to steer the education of their child is largely slipping away from their hands and into the hands of politicians, unelected bureaucrats, and large corporations.”  


The film will be released by the Home School Legal Defense Association online at noon EDT on March 31, 2014, for free. HSLDA will also be accepting pre-orders for the extended DVD set which will ship later this summer. Reid is the Director of Film and Visual Media at the Home School Legal Defense Association.

Uinta County Conservation District Concerned with The Next Generation Science Standards

UintaCountyConservationDistrict

The Uinta County Conservation District has released a letter they sent to the Wyoming State Board of Education addressing their concerns with the Next Generation Science Standards.  I have obtained permission from Briar Harris, Education Coordinator for the Uinta County Conservation District to publish the letter.  This letter was also sent to all Conservation Districts throughout the state. I have also included Briar’s commentary on the research and reason for concern below.

1-7-14 Letter NGSS 1st page 001

Click Letter to Enlarge

1-7-2014 Letter NGSS Signature 001

The Next Generation Science Standards: Reason for concern

Core Idea LS4

Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity

Biological evolution explains both the unity and the diversity of species and provides a unifying principle for the history and diversity of life on Earth. [1]

Evolution and its underlying genetic mechanisms of inheritance and variability are key to understanding both the unity and the diversity of life on Earth. [2]

Grade Band Endpoints for LS2.C

By the end of grade 12.

A complex set of interactions within an ecosystem can keep its numbers and types of organisms relatively constant over long periods of time under stable conditions. If a modest biological or physical disturbance to an ecosystem occurs, it may return to its more or less original status (i.e., the ecosystem is resilient), as opposed to becoming a very different ecosystem. Extreme fluctuations in conditions or the size of any population, however, can challenge the functioning of ecosystems in terms of resources and habitat availability. Moreover, anthropogenic changes (induced by human activity) in the environment—including habitat destruction, pollution, introduction of invasive species, overexploitation, and climate change—can disrupt an ecosystem and threaten the survival of some species.[3]

Evolution is being taught as a fact rather than what it is: Theory.

LS4.D: BIODIVERSITY AND HUMANS

What is biodiversity, how do humans affect it, and how does it affect humans?

Human beings are part of and depend on the natural world. Biodiversity—the multiplicity of genes, species, and ecosystems—provides humans with renewable resources, such as food, medicines, and clean water. Humans also benefit from “ecosystem services,” such as climate stabilization, decomposition of wastes, and pollination that are provided by healthy (i.e., diverse and resilient) ecosystems. The resources of biological communities can be used within sustainable limits, but in many cases humans affect these ecosystems in ways—including habitat destruction, pollution of air and water, overexploitation of resources, introduction of invasive species, and climate change—that prevent the sustainable use of resources and lead to ecosystem degradation, species extinction, and the loss of valuable ecosystem services.[4]

But human activity is also having adverse impacts on biodiversity through overpopulation, overexploitation, habitat destruction, pollution, introduction of invasive species, and climate change. These problems have the potential to cause a major wave of biological extinctions—as many species or populations of a given species, unable to survive in changed environments, die out—and the effects may be harmful to humans and other living things.[5]

Humans have not only had negative effect on our natural resources but also positive effects.  Are humans really the source of all that is negative?  Do humans not take care of our natural resources?  What do many agencies like the Conservation Districts do?  Should we maybe point out the good things?

ESS2.D: WEATHER AND CLIMATE

What regulates weather and climate?

The “greenhouse effect” keeps Earth’s surface warmer than it would be otherwise. [6]

By the end of grade 8. …….Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere absorb and retain the energy radiated from land and ocean surfaces, thereby regulating Earth’s average surface temperature and keeping it habitable.[7]

By the end of grade 12. ….. Changes in the atmosphere due to human activity have increased carbon dioxide concentrations and thus affect climate (link to ESS3.D).[8]

Global climate models incorporate scientists’ best knowledge of physical and chemical processes and of the interactions of relevant systems. They are tested by their ability to fit past climate variations. Current models predict that, although future regional climate changes will be complex and varied, average global temperatures will continue to rise. The outcomes predicted by global climate models strongly depend on the amounts of human-generated greenhouse gases added to the atmosphere each year and by the ways in which these gases are absorbed by the ocean and the biosphere. Hence the outcomes depend on human behaviors (link to ESS3.D) as well as on natural factors that involve complex feedbacks among Earth’s systems (link to ESS2.A).[9]

ESS2.E: BIOGEOLOGY

How do living organisms alter Earth’s processes and structures?

Organisms ranging from bacteria to human beings are a major driver of the global carbon cycle, and they influence global climate by modifying the chemical makeup of the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases in particular are continually moved through the reservoirs represented by the ocean, land, life, and atmosphere. [10]

  1. Again a theory, Greenhouse gases being taught as fact.

  2. Yet again it implies humans are a detriment to society.

Core Idea ESS3

Earth and Human Activity

How do Earth’s surface processes and human activities affect each other?

Earth’s surface processes affect and are affected by human activities. Humans depend on all of the planet’s systems for a variety of resources, some of which are renewable or replaceable and some of which are not. Natural hazards and other geological events can significantly alter human populations and activities. Human activities, in turn, can contribute to the frequency and intensity of some natural hazards. Indeed, humans have become one of the most significant agents of change in Earth’s surface systems. In particular, it has been shown that climate change—which could have large consequences for all of Earth’s surface systems, including the biosphere—is driven not only by natural effects but also by human activities. [11]

Humans as it states have become one of the most significant agents of change in the Earth’s surface. It goes on to say “In particular, ….climate change.”  Once again humans are bad and we have caused problems such as intensity of some natural hazards and climate change.

ESS3.A: NATURAL RESOURCES

How do humans depend on Earth’s resources?

All forms of resource extraction and land use have associated economic, social, environmental, and geopolitical costs and risks, as well as benefits. New technologies and regulations can change the balance of these factors—for example, scientific modeling of the long-term environmental impacts of resource use can help identify potential problems and suggest desirable changes in the patterns of use. Much energy production today comes from nonrenewable sources, such as coal and oil. [12] However, advances in related science and technology are reducing the cost of energy from renewable resources, such as sunlight, and some regulations are favoring their use. As a result, future energy supplies are likely to come from a much wider range of sources.[13]

They have in here given us a solution to the problems humans have caused: regulations! Regulations it implies will be our saving grace as they favor renewable resources such as sunlight.  It states that science and technology are reducing the cost of renewable resources, however, it never mentions that they are not a viable solution to our energy crisis at this point because the government is subsidizing the push for renewable resources and without government subsidizing no company could even afford to be in business related to the renewable energies.  Not only do we pay higher prices for renewable energy through our utilities we also pay more taxes to subsidize them.

ESS3.B: NATURAL HAZARDS

How do natural hazards affect individuals and societies?

Human activities can contribute to the frequency and intensity of some natural hazards (e.g., flooding, forest fires), and risks from natural hazards increase as populations—and population densities—increase in vulnerable locations.[14]

Grade Band Endpoints for ESS3.B

By the end of grade 5…Humans cannot eliminate natural hazards but can take steps to reduce their impacts.

By the end of grade 12…Human activities can contribute to the frequency and intensity of some natural hazards.

Did the Endpoints for grade 5 and 12 just contradict one another?  I believe so.  If we can contribute to the frequency and intensity of natural hazards then by not doing whatever it is that we to do contribute shouldn’t we be able to eliminate some natural hazards?  What natural hazards to humans contribute to?

ESS3.C: HUMAN IMPACTS ON EARTH SYSTEMS

How do humans change the planet?

Recorded history, as well as chemical and geological evidence, indicates that human activities in agriculture, industry, and everyday life have had major impacts on the land, rivers, ocean, and air. Humans affect the quality, availability, and distribution of Earth’s water through the modification of streams, lakes, and groundwater. Large areas of land, including such delicate ecosystems as wetlands, forests, and grasslands, are being transformed by human agriculture, mining, and the expansion of settlements and roads. Human activities now cause land erosion and soil movement annually that exceed all natural processes. Air and water pollution caused by human activities affect the condition of the atmosphere and of rivers and lakes, with damaging effects on other species and on human health. The activities of humans have significantly altered the biosphere, changing or destroying natural habitats and causing the extinction of many living species. [15]These changes also affect the viability of agriculture or fisheries to support human populations. Land use patterns for agriculture and ocean use patterns for fishing are affected not only by changes in population and needs but also by changes in climate or local conditions (such as desertification due to overuse or depletion of fish populations by overextraction).

Thus humans have become one of the most significant agents of change in the near-surface Earth system. And because all of Earth’s subsystems are interconnected, changes in one system can produce unforeseen changes in others.

Some negative effects of human activities are reversible with informed and responsible management. ….. Regulations regarding water and air pollution have greatly reduced acid rain and stream pollution, and international treaties on the use of certain refrigerant gases have halted the growth of the annual ozone hole over Antarctica. Regulation of fishing and the development of marine preserves can help restore and maintain fish populations. In addition, the development of alternative energy sources can reduce the environmental impacts otherwise caused by the use of fossil fuels.[16]

If this doesn’t give you pause then I don’t know what will.  Not only does it focus only on the negative effects humans have had and will continue to have but it also poses the solutions of regulations and international treaties!  Is that what Wyoming is about, regulations and international treaties as solutions to all our problems?

Recorded history, as well as chemical and geological evidence, indicates that human activities in agriculture, industry, and everyday life have had major impacts on the land, rivers, ocean, and air.

By the end of grade 5. Human activities in agriculture, industry, and everyday life have had major effects on the land, vegetation, streams, ocean, air, and even outer space. But individuals and communities are doing things to help protect Earth’s resources and environments..…. regulating sources of pollution such as emissions from factories and power plants or the runoff from agricultural activities.

By the end of grade 8. Human activities have significantly altered the biosphere, sometimes damaging or destroying natural habitats and causing the extinction of many other species.

By the end of grade 12. When the source of an environmental problem is understood and international agreement can be reached, human activities can be regulated to mitigate global impacts (e.g., acid rain and the ozone hole near Antarctica).[17]

Hasn’t agriculture and industry been the catalyst for the progression of the human race?  Isn’t the farmer and rancher the first conversationalist?  They have done more in the way of sustaining human life through responsible farming and ranching practices.  They see the error of a practice quickly and change it just as quickly.  Natural resources are how they make a living, they would never intentionally do anything to compromise them in any way.  They continually look for ways to improve and protect the natural resources.

ESS3.D: GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE

How do people model and predict the effects of human activities on Earth’s climate?

Global climate change, shown to be driven by both natural phenomena and by human activities, could have large consequences for all of Earth’s surface systems, including the biosphere (see ESS3.C for a general discussion of climate). Humans are now so numerous and resource dependent that their activities affect every part of the environment, from outer space and the stratosphere to the deepest ocean.[18]

By the end of grade 8. Human activities, such as the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, are major factors in the current rise in Earth’s mean surface temperature (global warming). Reducing human vulnerability to whatever climate changes do occur depend on the understanding of climate science, engineering capabilities, and other kinds of knowledge, such as understanding of human behavior and on applying that knowledge wisely in decisions and activities.

By the end of grade 12. Global climate models are often used to understand the process of climate change because these changes are complex and can occur slowly over Earth’s history. Though the magnitudes of humans’ impacts are greater than they have ever been, so too are humans’ abilities to model, predict, and manage current and future impacts. Through computer simulations and other studies, important discoveries are still being made about how the ocean, the atmosphere, and the biosphere interact and are modified in response to human activities, as well as to changes in human activities. Thus science and engineering will be essential both to understanding the possible impacts of global climate change and to informing decisions about how to slow its rate and consequences—for humanity as well as for the rest of the planet.[19]

Global Warming whether you believe in it or not is only a theory, it is not fact.  There is science both for and against it and as such should never be taught in our schools as fact.  Schools should teach facts as facts and theories as theories!

ETS2.B: INFLUENCE OF ENGINEERING, TECHNOLOGY, AND SCIENCE ON SOCIETY AND THE NATURAL WORLD

How do science, engineering, and the technologies that result from them affect the ways in which people live? How do they affect the natural world?

From the earliest forms of agriculture to the latest technologies, all human activity has drawn on natural resources and has had both short- and long-term consequences, positive as well as negative, for the health of both people and the natural environment. These consequences have grown stronger in recent human history. Society has changed dramatically, and human populations and longevity have increased…

Not only do science and engineering affect society, but society’s decisions (whether made through market forces or political processes) influence the work of scientists and engineers. These decisions sometimes establish goals and priorities for improving or replacing technologies; at other times they set limits, such as in regulating the extraction of raw materials or in setting allowable levels of pollution from mining, farming, and industry.[20]

By the end of grade 8. All human activity draws on natural resources and has both short- and long-term consequences, positive as well as negative, for the health of both people and the natural environment.[21]

Do we want regulations as this says in extraction of raw materials or allowable levels of pollution from mining, farming and industry?

In reading through The Next Generation Science Standards although they are more comprehensive standards than what we now have in Wyoming, they are not conducive in my opinion to who we are in Wyoming.  The under tones of the human population being already overpopulated and that human impact on the Earth has been negative at best is simply WRONG!

I have intentionally copied and pasted every word in black directly from the WordPress website, from the “A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts and Core Ideas” as well as adding footnotes.  I want you to only have the facts!  In reading through this and spending hours and hours wading through misconceptions and someone else’s interpretations of what the standards were I was able to find what the facts are.  My intention in this is so that if you have any questions you will not have to go through all the hoops and unnecessary hours of time to look up the facts if you would like.   When it all came down to the nuts and bolts I learned that very, very few people in Wyoming have the facts, they frankly don’t have the time or know how to do what I spent weeks doing.  The bullet points that are published only give a small portion and many “in the know” or who should be, haven’t read through the standards themselves.

It is no secret that Wyoming is near the bottom of the barrel when it comes to our science standards and have been lacking for some time.  The consensus is that we all want better standards for the students of Wyoming.  What we don’t want is to hastily adopt standards written by people who don’t value the same things we do.  The people of Wyoming may not have “caught up” to the ideologies of the rest of the nation or the world, but is that what we really want.  Isn’t what makes Wyoming so special is that we believe in the “good ol’ boy” way of life?  We go against the grain, fight for what is right and true and never back down when it comes to our beliefs.  We believe in doing what’s right, in fact we didn’t just come to that but have lived it from the very beginning.  The farmers and ranchers of this country and Wyoming have led in innovation, conservation and the protection of our rights and freedoms.  Are we now going to let what our fore fathers fought with blood, sweat and tears for, to be trampled on each and every day in our schools?  Teaching the next generation that more government, more regulations, more international treaties, more involvement in our lives, taking away our freedoms is what is best for their future and ours.

I urge you to look carefully at these standards.  In fact don’t take my word for it research it for yourselves.  Contact me for any questions or more information.  More importantly once you have read the facts, if you don’t agree with these standards MAKE A STANCE!  If we do nothing they will be our standards.  They will be taught to the next generation and we will be to blame for doing nothing.

Briar Harris, Education Coordinator

Uinta County Conservation District

bharris@bvea.net


[1] 6 Dimension 3: Disciplinary Core Ideas – Life Sciences .” A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas . Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2012 .

[2]  6 Dimension 3: Disciplinary Core Ideas – Life Sciences .” A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas . Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2012 .

[3]  6 Dimension 3: Disciplinary Core Ideas – Life Sciences .” A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas . Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2012 .

[4] 6 Dimension 3: Disciplinary Core Ideas – Life Sciences .” A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas . Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2012 .

[5] 6 Dimension 3: Disciplinary Core Ideas – Life Sciences .” A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas . Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2012 .

[6] 7 Dimension 3: Disciplinary Core Ideas – Earth and Space Sciences .” A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas . Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2012 .

[7] 7 Dimension 3: Disciplinary Core Ideas – Earth and Space Sciences .” A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas . Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2012 .

[8] 7 Dimension 3: Disciplinary Core Ideas – Earth and Space Sciences .” A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas . Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2012 .

[9] 7 Dimension 3: Disciplinary Core Ideas – Earth and Space Sciences .” A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas . Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2012 .

[10] 7 Dimension 3: Disciplinary Core Ideas – Earth and Space Sciences .” A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas . Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2012 .

[11] 7 Dimension 3: Disciplinary Core Ideas – Earth and Space Sciences .” A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas . Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2012 .

[12] 7 Dimension 3: Disciplinary Core Ideas – Earth and Space Sciences .” A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas . Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2012 .

[13]  7 Dimension 3: Disciplinary Core Ideas – Earth and Space Sciences .” A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas . Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2012 .

[14] 7 Dimension 3: Disciplinary Core Ideas – Earth and Space Sciences .” A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas . Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2012 .

[15] 7 Dimension 3: Disciplinary Core Ideas – Earth and Space Sciences .” A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas . Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2012 .

[16] 7 Dimension 3: Disciplinary Core Ideas – Earth and Space Sciences .” A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas . Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2012 .

[17] 7 Dimension 3: Disciplinary Core Ideas – Earth and Space Sciences .” A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas . Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2012 .

[18] 7 Dimension 3: Disciplinary Core Ideas – Earth and Space Sciences .” A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas . Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2012 .

[19] 7 Dimension 3: Disciplinary Core Ideas – Earth and Space Sciences .” A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas . Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2012 .

[20] 8 Dimension 3: Disciplinary Core Ideas – Engineering, Technology, and Applications of Science .” A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas . Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2012 .

[21] 8 Dimension 3: Disciplinary Core Ideas – Engineering, Technology, and Applications of Science .” A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas . Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2012 .

Sign THIS Letter for NO NGSS in Your School District!!

SAY NO to NEXT GENERATION SCIENCE STANDARDS

The State School Board in Wyoming is looking at adopting a set of science standards for public
school students that are concerning. Many people around Wyoming have let the State Board know that they do not want these standards adopted for our kids, but it still looks like they will accept them anyway.

Your local district has the opportunity to  let the State Board know that these are
not the right choice of Wyoming.

Please consider signing this letter asking our local School Board
to take a stance.

If you and your spouse share the same email address, please list “Joe & Jane” in the first name column.

The program only allows an email to be used once.

Click on your district to read and sign the letter.

Sweetwater County School District #1

Sweetwater County School District #2

Park County School District 1

Park County School District 6

Campell County 1

Teton County 1

If your county is not available please email:

contact@wyomingcitizensopposingcommoncore.com

Next Generation Science Standards Concerns

NGSS_LOGO

Below is an excellent breakdown of the problems with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) created by members of  WyomingCitizensOpposingCommonCore.com.  They have also created a brochure to print and hand out with similar information ==>HERE.

I am posting this information to give  parents  talking points for their local school boards about their concerns.  Please consider passing this information on to your local Conservation District chapters and any other organizations you think may be willing to get involved.
The State Board of Education is supposed to vote on the NGSS at their upcoming board meeting in Cheyenne on January 23, 24- so time is of the essence. 

Concerns with the Next Generation Science Standards

Lack of Quality

  • there is so little advanced content that it would be impossible to derive a high school physics or chemistry course
  • misses several opportunities to build important links between grade- appropriate math and required science content

Opposes Some Wyoming Values

  •  Wyoming’s economy revolves around mining and agriculture, the NGSS have a heavy negative slant at the use of such resources
  • Are regulations, international treaties and alternative energy sources Wyoming’s ideal for solutions to the “negative impacts of human activity?”
  • Does Wyoming value one-sided, unsupported viewpoints as fact?

Non-Objective

  • Religiously non-neutral which would lead to indoctrination, not education
  • Fail to distinguish for students the various definitions of evolution, leading them to assume that the word always denotes the same thing
  • Unconstitutional according to the Wyoming Constitution

Pending Court Case

  • A non-profit in Kansas has filed a complaint against the Kansas Department of Education regarding the Next Generation Science Standards
  • Kansas and Wyoming are both under the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.  Therefore, if a ruling is made at that level, it will apply to Wyoming as well
  • Wyoming should delay the consideration of the NGSS until this case is resolved

 

Lack of Quality

Nine scientists and mathematicians reviewed NGSS for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. Fordham gave the standards an overall grade of “C,” (the NAEP and TIMSS standards received the grade of A- from the Fordham Institute).

Overview:  “The NGSS fall short of excellence in several ways, including:

  • overemphasis on practices over essential context
  • omission of much essential content
  • failure to integrate mathematics content that is essential to science learning
  • use of assessment boundaries that put arbitrary ceilings on the content that will be assessed and therefore taught at each grade”

Clarity and Specificity: The presentation of the NGSS is cumbersome and difficult to navigate.  In addition, too many individual performance expectations are vague and poorly worded, with broad references to concepts that lack specific guidance about what, precisely, students should know and be able to do.”

http://www.edexcellencemedia.net/publications/2013/20130820-NGSS-Appendix-Review-and-State-Comparisons/NGSS-comparison-table-wyoming.pdf

Another problem Fordham reviewers found is NGSS focuses on students “performing” at the expense of “memorizing.”   They indicate that in this case “content takes a backseat to practices.” The Fordham report suggests that science education should “build knowledge first so that students will have the storehouse of information and understanding that they need to engage in scientific reasoning and higher level thinking.”

http://www.eagleforum.org/publications/educate/july13/next-generation-science-standards-common-core-incognito.html

 In regards to Physical Science Fordham states:

“NGSS physical science coverage is mediocre throughout grades K–5 and declines rapidly in middle school, and still further at the high school level. Overall, the physical science standards fail to lay the foundation for advanced study in high school and beyond, and there is so little advanced content that it would be impossible to derive a high school physics or chemistry course from the content included in the NGSS.”

“Much of the NGSS document was not written with mathematics in mind.”

“(NGSS) misses several opportunities to build important links between grade- appropriate math and required science content.”

“Given the critical overlap between science and math, as well as the NGSS authors’ intention to align their science expectations with the Common Core math standards, these shortcomings signal a need for caution on the part of states that are serious about implementing the CCSS but that are also considering adopting the NGSS.”

http://www.edexcellence.net/sites/default/files/publication/pdfs/20130612-NGSS-Final-Review_7.pdf

Wyoming Values

 Does Wyoming believe that all/most human actions lead to negative consequences for the earth?

Agriculture and mining are essential to Wyoming.  There are responsible Wyomingites out there who are involved with agriculture and/or mining that make a living responsibly, efficiently and without destroying the earth.  This perspective is not mentioned in the NGSS.  On the contrary, the unproven negative effects of such practices are taught.  The following example is taken from the NGSS:

Disciplinary Core Idea: ESS3.C: HUMAN IMPACTS ON EARTH SYSTEMS

“How do humans change the planet? Recorded history. . . indicates that human activities in agriculture, industry, and everyday life have had major impacts on the land, rivers, ocean, and air. Humans affect the quality, availability, and distribution of Earth’s water through the modification of streams, lakes, and groundwater. Large areas of land, including such delicate ecosystems as wetlands, forests, and grasslands, are being transformed by human agriculture, mining, and the expansion of settlements and roads. Human activities now cause land erosion and soil movement annually that exceed all natural processes. Air and water pollution caused by human activities affect the condition of the atmosphere and of rivers and lakes, with damaging effects on other species and on human health. The activities of humans have significantly altered the biosphere, changing or destroying natural habitats and causing the extinction of many living species. These changes also affect the viability of agriculture or fisheries to support human populations.

The activities and advanced technologies that have built and maintained human civilizations clearly have large consequences for the sustainability of these civilizations and the ecosystems with which they interact.”

Performance Expectation: HS – Human Sustainability (Grade 9-12)

HS-ESS3-4.
Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.

HS-ESS3-3.
Create a computational simulation to illustrate the relationships among management of natural resources, the sustainability of human populations, and biodiversity.

HS-ESS3-6.
Use a computational representation to illustrate the relationships among Earth systems and how those relationships are being modified due to human activity.

 

  • Does Wyoming value freedom and enterprise, or federal/international regulation?

The following is taken from the Framework behind the NGSS: “Some negative effects of human activities are reversible…Regulations regarding water and air pollution have greatly reduced acid rain and stream pollution, and international treaties on the use of certain refrigerant gases have halted the growth of the annual ozone hole…”

http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=13165&page=195

  • Does Wyoming value objective or unsupportive, non-objective education?

Non-Objective

  • The standards fail to present controversial issues objectively (such as climate change, renewable energy and sustainability.)
  • The standards are one-sided in that they disproportionately focus on negative effects of human interaction with the environment

Example:  ESS3.D: Global Climate Change

Performance Expectation: MS-ESS3 Earth and Human Activity (Grades 6-8) MS-ESS3-5.

Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century. [Clarification Statement: Examples of factors include human activities (such as fossil fuel combustion . . . and agricultural activity) . . . Emphasis is on the major role that human activities play in causing the rise in global temperatures.]

Disciplinary Core Idea: ESS3.D: Global Climate Change

Human activities, such as the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, are major factors in the current rise in Earth’s mean surface temperature (global warming).

  • Teaches evolution as a fact, starting in elementary grades (current WY standards teach evolution as a theory, and not until 8th grade)

Example:  “By the end of grade 2. Some kinds of plants and animals that once lived on Earth (e.g., dinosaurs) are no
longer found anywhere, although others now living (e.g., lizards) resemble them in some ways.”
(Grade Band Endpoints for LS4.A)

  • The standards address ultimate  religious questions and then use a doctrine or “Rule” that permits only   materialistic or functionally atheistic answers
  • The standards require a materialistic explanation for any phenomenon addressed by science
  • The standards are neither educationally objective nor religiously neutral, because an atheistic or materialistic worldview is consistently affirmed throughout.
  • The Standards fail to present legitimate scientific critiques of materialistic theories regarding the origins of the universe, of life and its diversity

Examples:  Core Idea LS4: Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity

LS4.A: Evidence of Common Ancestry and Diversity
LS4.B: Natural Selection
LS4.C: Adaptation
LS4.D: Biodiversity and Humans

Descriptions of these Core Ideas to follow:

The Framework for the NGSS describes the reasoning behind the Core Ideas:

  • There is diversity within species as well as between species. Yet what is learned about the function of a gene or a cell or a process in one organism is relevant to other organisms because of their ecological interactions and evolutionary relatedness. (Framework, page 139, emphasis added)
  • “Finally, the core ideas in the life sciences culminate with the principle that evolution can explain how the diversity that is observed within species has led to the diversity of life across species through a process of descent with adaptive modification. Evolution also accounts for the remarkable similarity of the fundamental characteristics of all species. (Framework, page 140, emphasis added)
  • Evolution and its underlying genetic mechanisms of inheritance and variability are key to understanding both the unity and the diversity of life on Earth. (Framework, page 141)
  • Evolution thus explains both the similarities of genetic material across all species and the multitude of species existing in diverse conditions on Earth—its biodiversity—which humans depend on for natural resources and other benefits to sustain themselves. (Framework, page 161)
  • Biological evolution, the process by which all living things have evolved over many generations from shared ancestors, explains both the unity and the diversity of species.(Framework, page 162,emphasis added)

Bullets source: http://www.copeinc.org/docs/NGSS_PressRelease_final.pdf

Standards  source: http://edu.wyoming.gov/sf-docs/default-document-library/science_standards_draft_09-20-13_sbe_10-7-13.pdf2

Framework Source: http://www.nextgenscience.org/framework-k%E2%80%9312-science-education

The NGSS Are Unconstitutional In Wyoming

The Wyoming Constitution states in Article 7, Section 12 titled “Sectarianism prohibited.”

“No sectarian instruction, qualifications or tests shall be imparted, exacted, applied or in any manner tolerated in the schools of any grade or character controlled by the state, nor shall attendance be required at any religious service therein, nor shall any sectarian tenets or doctrines be taught or favored in any public school or institution that may be established under this constitution.”

The word “sect” is defined as “a group adhering to a distinctive doctrine.”  And doctrine is defined as “a set of ideas or beliefs that are taught or believed to be true.”

The adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards would seem to be a violation of the state constitution.

Pending Court Case

  • The Framework for K-12 Science Education and Next Generation Science Standards is the subject of a lawsuit filed in a Federal District Court in Kansas in September.
  • Kansas case is relevant to Wyoming because any appeal that goes to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals establishes the federal law, which will be applicable to Wyoming as well.
  • The lawsuit claims that the program seeks to establish an atheistic worldview in our children. Let me read you the first paragraph of the complaint:

“The Plaintiffs, consisting of students, parents and Kansas resident taxpayers, and a representative organization, complain that the adoption by the Defendant State Board of Education on June 11, 2013 of Next Generation Science Standards will have the effect of causing Kansas public schools to establish and endorse a non-theistic religious worldview (the “Worldview”) in violation of the Establishment, Free Exercise, and Speech Clauses of the First Amendment, and the Equal Protection Clauses of the 14th Amendment.”

Created by WyomingCitizensOpposingCommonCore.com  Please visit their site for more information regarding Common Core!

Common Core and STEM Not a Good Fit Op-Ed by Dr. Sandra Stotsky

Should American High Schools Prepare any Students for STEM?  

Common Core Doesn’t Think So

by 

Sandra Stotsky

When states adopted Common Core’s mathematics standards, they were told (among other things) that these standards would make all high school students “college- and career-ready” and strengthen the critical pipeline for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

However, with the exception of a few standards in trigonometry, the math standards end after Algebra II, as James Milgram, professor of mathematics emeritus at StanfordUniversity observed in “Lowering the Bar: How Common Core Math Fails to Prepare High School Students for STEM,” a September 2013 report that we co-authored for the Pioneer Institute.

Who was responsible for telling Wisconsin’s Commissioner of Education when he decided to adopt these standards in 2010 that Common Core includes no standards for precalculus OR for getting to precalculus?  Who should be telling Governor Walker and Wisconsin business executives today that high school graduates taught only to Common Core’s mathematics standards won’t be able to pursue a four-year degree in STEM?  Why isn’t the Wisconsin  Department of Public Instruction telling local superintendents to make sure that an accelerated mathematics sequence is available from grade 6 on so that mathematically able kids in Wisconsin’s public schools can be prepared to enroll in and complete a full Algebra I course in grade 8 and have a chance to consider a STEM career when they plan their mathematics and science coursework in high school?

Superintendents, local school committees, and most parents don’t know that under Common Core their students won’t be able to pursue a STEM career.  In fact, they think that Common Core’s mathematics standards are rigorous.  They are not complicit in this clever act of educational sabotage, but those who wrote these standards are.  And their friends in Departments of Education or Public Instruction are.

U.S. government data show that only one out of every 50 prospective STEM majors who begin their undergraduate math coursework at the precalculus level or lower will earn bachelor’s degrees in a STEM area. Moreover, students whose last high school mathematics course was Algebra II or lower have less than a 40 percent chance of earning any kind of four-year college degree.

It’s not as if Common Core’s lead mathematics standards writers themselves didn’t tell the public how low Common Core’s high school mathematics standards were. At a March 2010 meeting of the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, Jason Zimba, a lead writer, told the board that the standards are “not only not for STEM, they are also not for selective colleges.”   In January 2010, William McCallum, another lead mathematics standards writer, told a group of mathematicians: “The overall standards would not be too high, certainly not in comparison [to] other nations, including East Asia, where math education excels.”

There are other consequences to having a college readiness test in mathematics with low expectations. The U.S. Department of Education’s competitive grant program, Race to the Top, requires states to place students who have been admitted by their public colleges and universities into credit-bearing (non-remedial) mathematics (and English) courses if they have passed a Common Core–based “college readiness” test. Selective public colleges, engineering schools, and universities in Wisconsin will likely have to lower the level of their introductory math courses to avoid unacceptably high failure rates.

Both Professor Milgram and I were members of Common Core’s Validation Committee, which was charged with reviewing each successive draft of the standards. We both refused to sign off on the academic quality of the national standards, but we made public our explanation and criticism of the final version of Common Core’s standards.

It is still astonishing that Wisconsin’s Commissioner of Education adopted Common Core’s standards without asking the engineering, science, and mathematics faculty at his own higher education institutions (and the mathematics teachers in the state’s own high schools) to do an analysis of Common Core’s definition of college readiness and to make public their recommendations. After all, who could be better judges of what students need for a STEM major?

Wisconsin clearly needs to revise Common Core’s mathematics standards as soon as possible so that its public schools are able to offer the coursework beginning in grade 5 or 6 that will enable mathematically able students to aim for a STEM major in college.  Unless, of course, the governor, the legislature, and the commissioner of education aren’t interested in having American-born and educated engineers, doctors, or scientists.   If that is the case, then keep the Common Core status quo.

Sandra Stotsky, Ed.D, is professor of education reform emerita at the University of Arkansas. She was on Common Core’s Validation Committee from 2009-2010.  Her writings are available at: http://www.uaedreform.org/sandra-stotsky/