National Science Standards: We can haz!

On, the site where you can submit ideas and/or vote on ideas and then Obama has to do them … or at least listen … a college student named Griffin Jeffrey has suggested that we create nationalliy required science standards.

National standards on the teaching of Evolution and the origins of life, decided on and created by top scientists from significant scientific organizations, should direct curricula of all schools nationwide, overriding any state laws on the subjects.

We want this. Go vote for it. Here.


  1. #1 James F
    December 3, 2008

    I found out about it through Facebook…keep spreading the word! If we can have SATs and AP classes, we can have this.

  2. #2 Katharine
    December 3, 2008

    Also, see the post called ‘Restore the Presidential Scientific Advisor to a Cabinet-level position’. Obama needs a science advisor, and his science advisor needs to be prominent.

  3. #3 charfles
    December 3, 2008

    I voted!

  4. #4 Lorax
    December 4, 2008

    FYI the second draft of the Minnesota science standards have just come online for public feedback. The last committee meeting is at the end of January, so this is likely the last chance to make any recommendations that can be incorporated. Personally, I still think there is room for improvement in the life sciences. However, my greatest concern is some of the language in the “nature of science” section, which I think opens a doorway for creationism (ie intelligent design).

  5. #5 Karl Bunday
    December 4, 2008

    Greg, you’ve been tricked. The site is not affiliated with President-elect Obama in any way. (His site is, and there is no indication that anyone affiliated with has anything whatsoever to do with Obama.) I wrote in support of the proposal you are supporting here in your blog post, but as I look around at I see that there are an amazing number of posts there by total flakes–as witnessed by supporters of mandatory Esperanto lessons in secondary schools in the United States outnumbering supporters of science education standards that are based on the science of biological evolution.

  6. #6 Greg Laden
    December 4, 2008

    Karl: Thanks for the excellent investigative webology . Maybe we should take over!

  7. #7 K.
    December 4, 2008

    “” Can they actually do that? I mean, obviously they can, but aren’t .gov URLs restricted to government sites? Then again, I don’t know the rules of how these things are supposed to work.

    Oh well. One way or the other, I voted. I think it’s a grand idea.

  8. #8 Karl Bunday
    December 4, 2008

    Yes, really is the legitimate governmental website of the Obama transition team, which apparently gets some federal resources after the election. By contrast, is just a skin with a user-registered domain name for a commercial website for gathering opinions. (I learned this on Hacker News.) If readers of Greg Laden’s Blog and Pharyngula (where I learned about this thread on Greg’s site) and sites of similar interest want to send eyeballs there, that might thin out the flakiness there, but it might not be seen by any more people in the Obama administration than a new original post right here on Greg Laden’s Blog.

  9. #9 MReap
    December 4, 2008

    Lorax, I think the language you’re referring to in the MN standards (NOS strand where it says “not limited to …” and then lists several theories) is a section that could not be touched by the new committee. It was transferred verbatim from the current standards. The exact politics on why this occurred are very fuzzy, if not hidden.

  10. #10 BZ
    December 4, 2008

    Isn’t there a internet law that you need to have at least one picture of a lolcat if you invoke the use of their language?

    Regarding the topic, it sounds good but national standards always tend to fall short of the goal. How could quality be guaranteed at such a huge level?

  11. #11 CLM
    December 4, 2008

    The #1 idea in Education is currently “Introduce Esperanto as a foreign language subject in schools”. Yeah, like that’s gonna happen. Learning Klingon would be more practical. And it’s not on it’s on

  12. #12 Larry Fafarman
    December 4, 2008

    You Darwinists complain about Darwinism being singled out for criticism and now you want to single out Darwinism for national standards! Sheeeesh. Give me a break.

  13. #13 JanieBelle
    December 4, 2008

    Larry dear,

    Please take your meds.

    Miss you,


  14. #14 Larry Fafarman
    December 4, 2008

    InsanieBelle —

    Go to hell.

  15. #15 JanieBelle
    December 4, 2008

    Aw, Larry!

    It’s so nice that you’ve missed me too!

  16. #16 Stephanie Z
    December 4, 2008

    Careful, Larry. Keep posting around here right now and you might end up having to wear a Darwin hat.

  17. #17 Crimson Wife
    December 4, 2008

    I’m not in favor of nationalizing the curriculum in any subject. I’d actually like to see state standards abolished too. Teachers ought to be empowered to do their jobs as they deem best without micromanagement from bureaucrats.

  18. #18 JanieBelle
    December 4, 2008


    That would be awesome, in a twisted kind of way!

  19. #19 JanieBelle
    December 4, 2008

    Crimson Wife,

    While the sentiment is understandable, students are getting a poor science education… or worse, they’re being deliberately deceived by creationists. This is a huge problem, and to date national standards is the only remotely viable solution being bandied.

    Of course, the best solution would be for science teachers and school boards to correct the problem themselves, but as that isn’t happening anytime soon, what other options are there?

  20. #20 Greg Laden
    December 4, 2008

    I can make a special hat.

    CW: The myth of local control = quality has run its course.

  21. #21 Jason Woertink
    December 5, 2008

    Teaching all students exactly the same stuff exactly the same way will not create a diverse body of scientists.

  22. #22 mwarner1968
    December 6, 2008

    I know students could be taught science in a better way, but the flat out generalization that American students get a bad science education is troubling to me. Full disclosure, I am a science teacher. When you say this, what are you basing this on? I found the Urban Institutes study on science education very interesting.

  23. #23 Dawn
    December 6, 2008

    Can I just ask what happens when you’ve given the feds the power to create national standards and 4 or 8 years down the road a Palin or Huckabee wins the White House?

    Local control would probably seem pretty attractive then.

  24. #24 Greg Laden
    December 7, 2008

    Dawn: good point, but there is something you must take into account. No matter how right wingish the party in charge of the white house gets, there is still a Supreme Court and there is still a relately well educated lawyerly Senate. But at the local level … and with this absurd fetish that all local is always better for all things, “local” means any one of the thousands of school districts … absolutely anything can happen.

    Even at the state level we see absurdities that simply can’t happen at the national level.