Opponents see that they are nothing if not more confusing. They are not clearer. They are haphazard and vague.
Proponents will point out, “The standards are only English Language Arts and Math!!” The opponents say, “This will lend itself to creating standards in other areas!!”
And, of course, the opponents are right.
Along comes the Next Generation Science Standards. Oh, the NGSS are not a new idea. They’ve been in the works for a while. In fact, the final draft was released in the spring of 2013. So they had been being “developed” before the Common Core was officially adopted in some states.
Pardon me while I try not to throw up when I say, “Science is a topic that would never be used to push an ideology!! You’d never run into a one sided declaration as fact in science!” Yeah. That sounds right, doesn’t it?
Feel free to peruse the standards in the link I provided a couple paragraphs ago. Or, here’s one that I particularly like; this is not a standard but something that informed the standards.
I’ll point out some of the more interesting parts of this document.
The Influence of Engineering, Technology, and Science on Society and the Natural World
“The second core idea focuses on the more traditional STS theme, that scientific and technological advances can have a profound effect on society and the environment. Together, advances in science, engineering, and technology can have—and indeed have had—profound effects on human society, in such areas as agriculture, transportation, health care, and communication, and on the natural environment. Each system can change significantly when new technologies are introduced, with both desired effects and unexpected outcomes. (NRC, 2012, p. 210).
This idea has two complementary parts. The first is that scientific discoveries and technological decisions affect human society and the natural environment. The second is that people make decisions for social and environmental reasons that ultimately guide the work of scientists and engineers.”
“Not only do science and engineering affect society; society’s decisions (whether made through market forces or political processes) influence the work of scientists and engineers. These decisions sometimes establish goals and priorities for improving or replacing technologies; at other times they set limits, such as in regulating the extraction of raw materials or in setting allowable levels of pollution from mining, farming, and industry. (NRC, 2012, p. 212)”
Are you now asking yourself where you are? Yes, you’re still in science class. No, this is not Social Studies and this is not “Sustainable Earth 101.” Nor is it “What political ideology will slip under the radar in this lesson?”
Here’s another snippet, from the grades 6-8 Connection Statements that students will know when done with this particular subject.
All human activity draws on natural resources and has both short and long-term consequences, positive as well as negative, for the health of people and the natural environment. The uses of technologies and any limitations on their use are driven by individual or societal needs, desires, and values; by the findings of scientific research; and by differences in such factors as climate, natural resources, and economic conditions. Technology use varies over time and from region to region.
My question after reading this is what kind of discussion will we be having in our science class now? Are we going to be talking about how we need to create sustainable energy sources so that we can meet the individual or societal needs, desires and values? And who is the one to say what those needs, desires and values are? Whoever has the most money? Al Gore? Whoever is in charge of the federal government at the time? And also, the question is begged: What happened to Bunsen Burners? Experiments?
I am always worried about political ramifications. I’m always worried about how the EPA will use technologies and laws to suppress what a “free people” are allowed to do in their own homes. Take, for example, San Francisco. Just read their Spare the Air regulations.
Of course, these are just my concerns and I’m only a “white suburban mom” who happens to see our freedoms to do the simplest of things taken away from us one at a time. So what do I know?
Let’s look at Fordham Institute’s opinion on NGSS. Fordham gives the new standards a measly C grade. Keep in mind that Fordham is very pro Common Core.
Here are the highlights from what they see:
Fordham had defined five of the “significant flaws” they see:
- Much essential content was omitted.
- The grade-to-grade progression that was a strength of the NRC Framework was not fully realized in the NGSS. The result was that some content that was never explicitly stated in earlier grades was nevertheless assumed in later grades.
- A number of key terms (e.g., “model” and “design”) were ill defined or inconsistently used and a number of actual errors were scattered throughout.
- Recommended “practices” dominated the NGSS, relegating essential knowledge—which should be the ultimate goal of science education—to secondary status.
- The articulation of “assessment boundaries” in connection with many standards threatened to place an unwarranted ceiling on important learning. Yes, teachers can go above and beyond what the boundary suggests, but with time and resources scarce, how many will actually teach students—even advanced students—content and skills that they know in advance “won’t be on the test”?
As Truth in American Education rightfully points out: “Notice this “relegating essential knowledge—which should be the ultimate goal of science education—to secondary status.” Why didn’t they recognize that with the math standards, I’ll never know.”
Again. Where are the Bunsen Burners?