Education secretary visits Los Alamos

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By Wren Propp

New Mexico has a chance to be among those in the forefront to update science standards for students in kindergarten through 12th grade, said the secretary of the Public Education Department during a visit to Los Alamos on Tuesday.
Adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards, also known as Next Gen, would put New Mexico among 19 states to embrace new science instructional requirements and updated content, said Cabinet Secretary Christopher Ruszkowski.
He was in town to congratulate schools in Los Alamos for being among 121 schools statewide earning the “A” designation.
PED has taken fire – particularly from the Los Alamos school board, local scientists and engineers and students – for modifications proposed to Next Gen, which includes switching out content on the human causes of “climate change,” for “temperature fluctuations,” and other modifications. Most recently the agency was the target of a letter signed by 61 scientists and engineers, Fellows of Los Alamos National Laboratory, published as an advertisement on Monday.
The letter said the proposed modifications had “no scientific rationale,” and would tarnish the state’s reputation.
Ruszkowski expects more discussions throughout this week, culminating in a hearing in Santa Fe on Monday.
“Do we still have more listening to do? I’m meeting with a group of superintendents tonight in Albuquerque,” Ruszkowski said.
Work on updating New Mexico’s science standards began two years ago as the PED began looking at science standards in place since 2003. And work is likely to continue, he said.
Also, schools will have the opportunity to be flexible regarding the curriculum, after its adoption.
“There’s no question of flexibility, Los Alamos (schools) has started that,” Ruszkowski said.