N.M. Science Standards Slight Evolution

New proposed state science standards for public schools in New Mexico are drawing criticism for limiting the scientific study of evolution, downplaying human impact on climate change and failing to explain adequately the age of the Earth. 

The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) has expressed concern over the standards, which are ostensibly based on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The NGSS has been adopted in 18 states as well as Wash­ington, D.C., but in New Mexico state education officials have made a number of changes to the NGSS, including cutting a reference to evolution and downplaying others.

School boards in Los Alamos and Santa Fe have recom­mended adopting the original NGSS. The Santa Fe board also held a teach-in on the issue on Oct. 13.

Advocates are fighting back in other ways. In an Oct. 3 letter, the New Mexico Science Teachers’ Association opposed the proposed standards and said the state’s curriculum should adopt NGSS without alterations.

Faced with growing criticism, officials at New Mexico’s Public Education Department restored references to the age of the Earth, evolution and climate change. But critics say the state’s standards are still weaker than the NGSS.