The Next Generation Science Standards represent a tremendous opportunity to strengthen science education in the United States, but also a tremendous risk.
Dozens of states have signed up to consider replacing their existing standards with these new ones. NGSS could revolutionize the US science curriculum, doing great good if they live up to their promise: if evolution and climate change are covered accurately, if they are integrated throughout the curriculum and across grade levels, if the nature of science is presented honestly and incorporated throughout the curriculum, and if the standards are adopted widely by the states.
If the standards undercut or skimp on evolution and climate change, or inadvertently include language that can be abused by creationists or climate change deniers, they will pose a great danger to science education for decades to come.
The National Center for Science Education has been active throughout the review process, and the standards are nearly complete. The final public review is under way, and we need your help.
You can review the standards and leave your own comments for the drafters by visiting the NGSS website. That process can be technical and time-intensive, but there’s another way to get involved.
By signing below, we’ll be able to tell the drafters that you and many other concerned citizens stand behind our review, and will be ready to help implement those honest, thorough standards in their states.
We, the undersigned citizens, scientists, clergy, parents, students, and teachers, stand behind the principles represented by the National Center for Science Education’s review of the Next Generation Science Standards.
In particular, we believe that state standards must:
treat evolution thoroughly – emphasizing tree thinking, the full range of evolutionary mechanisms, the many independent lines of evidence used in evolutionary research, and biodiversity and the history of life (including humans) – and presenting this information early and using it as the central organizing principle of the life sciences.
treat climate change thoroughly – including the dominant role humanity plays in modern climate change, the many ways that scientists test how and why the climate is changing, and the consequences of climate change for the natural world and our society – and presenting it as an organizing theme for study of the earth sciences.
give students sufficient context to understand not only the effects of climate change on society and natural systems, but also the solutions available through behavior change, technology, and engineering.
avoid claims about these and other socially contentious topics which are bad science or not science at all.
avoid language which could be twisted or misused by ideologues dedicated to undermining science education.
present the nature of science accurately and thoroughly, as a social enterprise, as a powerful process for testing claims about the natural world against empirical evidence, and the robust body of knowledge gained through that process.