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Science standards debate fills S.F. hall to capacity

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By Wren Propp

SANTA FE – Hundreds appeared Monday in Santa Fe for the single public hearing scheduled to comment on controversial science standards proposed by the state’s Public Education Department.
Throughout the morning, no one spoke in favor of PED’s proposal, many saying the department’s rewritten version of the national Next Generation Science Standards, known as Next Gen, were politically motivated.
The hearing was overseen by Kimberly Ulibarri, a PED hearing officer. Monday was the last day to submit comments.
Two Los Alamos schools officials, Superintendent Kurt Steinhaus and board member Andrea Cunningham, had signed up to speak, but due to a lengthy interruption from a false fire alarm and problems managing the hearing’s sign-in sheets, the two didn’t speak. A second board member was called on to speak.
Next Gen science standards were developed in 2013 by a consortium of 26 states, including people in New Mexico, and other organizations, such as National Science Teachers Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Research Council.
Changes made at PED include replacing references to climate change with “temperature fluctuations,” removes mention of the earth’s age as 4.8 billion years, and tweaks instruction on evolution.


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