SANTA FE, N.M. — About 30 critics of New Mexico’s proposed changes to public school science standards gathered Friday to protest the deletion or omission of references to global warming and evolution.
The teach-in style demonstration outside state Public Education Department offices included brief lectures from scientific experts about advances in the understanding of human evolution, geology and climate change — intermixed with criticism of proposed standards that substitute the words “global warming” with “temperature fluctuations.” A third grade student spoke on behalf of an after-school program for the study of global warming.
The Public Education Department has suggested several additions and deletions to a set of science standards developed by a consortium of states and the National Academy of Sciences. State Education Secretary Christopher Ruszkowski has said the department is open to feedback and the proposed changes are not set in stone.
The edited standards have generated opposition from school boards, scientific teaching associations and leading local scientists.
Nathan Urban, a physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, said the human causes of global warming have been firmly established and that students deserve to understand the underlying science.
“Honestly I don’t think anybody is going to be quizzing people on climate science on a job” interview,” he told the crowd on Friday. “It is important for students to act as informed citizens because climate change will affect everyone and there need to be policy choices.”
Santa Fe Public Schools board member Steve Carrillo organized the gathering in anticipation of a public hearing Monday in Santa Fe on the proposed standards at the Public Education Department. He said the proposed changes undermine efforts to upgrade the way science is taught and to engage students.
The National Science Teachers Association has urged state officials to retain the original text of science standards developed by states and the National Academy of Sciences.
The Public Education Department did not respond to a request for the full record of written public comments on the proposed standards.