The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are now released, and the Thomas B. Fordham Institute is already urging states to approach with caution.
Briefly summarized, Fordham’s key issues include:
• Is crucial science content missing, especially at the high school level?
• Are the expectations detailed enough to inform curriculum and assessment development?
• How well is NGSS aligned with the Common Core math and English language arts standards that most states have already embraced?
• Does the systematic integration of science “practices” throughout NGSS have the (unintended, we presume) effect of constraining and distorting pedagogy by mandating classroom activities, rather than articulating student outcomes?
• Are controversial subjects dealt with in a fair and even-handed manner?
Fordham and I both have concerns that climate issues/global warming coverage is contentious in the new standards. The new standards start climate control instruction in Kindergarten, of all things. This tender age group is unready to be anything more than unwitting subjects for politically motivated indoctrination about this highly politicized area.
Furthermore, few working Kindergarten teachers are likely to really understand all the climate issues and have the training to cover them in an appropriate way for these very young students.
The gross mistake of starting the climate indoctrination so early raises concerns about proper balance and motivation behind other areas in the standards, as well.
Also, while Fordham seemed happy with evolution coverage, that is far from a universal opinion, and this subject has already led to contentious discussion in the Kentucky legislature.
So, Fordham’s call for caution is very appropriate. We need to hear a lot more voices from outside of the chosen inside group that created these standards before Kentucky heads down yet another educational rabbit trail.