Wisconsin’s Draft Science Standards Are Up For Public Comment

Dr. Robert Lattimer with Citizens for Objective Public Education (COPE) contacted me to inform me that Wisconsin’s draft science standards are up for public comment and review. The current Wisconsin standards are the oldest in the nation, dating back to 1998.  The draft standards can be found here. You can submit feedback here. The comment period closes on August 12. Participants in the review do NOT need to be Wisconsin residents.

Lattimer writes:

The draft standards are based on the Framework for K-12 Science Education and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). While many of the performance standards are taken from NGSS (some have been modified), a lot of the content was developed in-state. In particular, there are sections with “Wisconsin contexts” that address issues specific to the state. Also, there are numerous standards dealing with science inquiry and engineering design.

The Wisconsin standards (like NGSS) are based on the doctrine of methodological naturalism (MN), which requires that all explanations in science be materialistic – i.e., based on natural laws and chance. MN is not justifiable in historical origins science (the study of the origin of the universe, of life, and of life’s diversity).

The standards on cosmic and biological evolution are based solely on materialistic causation. The possibility of teleological explanations (purposeful design) is not mentioned. There are numerous standards in environmental science. Many are reasonable, but others reflect an activist environmental agenda. Specifically, anthropogenic global warming and the negative effects of human activities are extensively covered.

If you would like to receive comments about specific Wisconsin standards you can email Robert at rplattimer@gmail.com.

Ohio requests feedback on updated academic standards.

Dr. Robert Lattimer with Citizens for Objective Public Education (COPE) contacted me to inform me that Ohio is looking for feedback on its science, social studies, and financial literacy standards. Below is information that he provided to his group.

The Ohio Department of Education is updating the state’s science, social studies, and financial literacy standards.  The Department is currently taking input on its proposed revisions (https://www.ohio-k12.help/standards/).  The deadline for providing feedback is JULY 18. 

Ohio’s science standards date back to 2011 (before the introduction of the Next Generation Science Standards).  The standards provide a heavy dose of materialistic philosophy, especially in the area of biological evolution.  Overall, the Ohio standards are just as objectionable and biased as NGSS.

The proposed 2017 revisions are generally minor in most areas of science.  However, the 8th grade and high school Biology standards have extensive updates.  In particular, the dogmatic coverage of biological evolution has been strengthened and extended.  You are encouraged to provide input on these standards (and others if you choose). 

The on-line response form is easy to use.  A space is provided on the form for comments on the various standards.  Note that the social studies and financial literacy updates are very brief and there isn’t much to object to.  Science is the real problem area.

The review form asks the participant to select an Ohio county.  For those respondents who live in other states, you can check the “State Level Sites” option instead of a county.  A list of suggested comments for the biology standards is available; you may request a copy by e-mail (rplattimer@gmail.com).

Nebraska Seeks Public Input on Science Standards

Robert Lattimer with Citizens for Objective Public Education (COPE) informed me that the Nebraska Department of Education has opened up their draft science standards for public comment. The commenting period closes on June 23, and you do not have to be a resident of Nebraska to participate.

The survey link can be found here.

Lattimer shared his thoughts about the standards in an email:

I have reviewed the standards and find them to be a clone of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).  There is some rearrangement of NGSS performance expectations, and a few slight modifications have been made.  Like NGSS, the thrust is materialistic with respect to biological evolution, and there is an activist environmental agenda.

I would suggest you provide input on the following performance expectations on evolution and environmentalism.  Note that there is a comment space on the web form for each grade level.

Page 23 (Grade 6, SC.6.12.4.c).  Change “rise” to “change.”  Change “past century” to “past several centuries.”

Page 25 (Grade 7, SC.7.7.3.d).  Change “minimizing” to “changing.”  State that human impact can be either positive or negative.

Page 29 (Grade 8, SC.8.9.4.a).  State that nearly all mutations are harmful or neutral and lead to a loss of fitness for the organism.

Page 30 (Grade 8, SC.8.10.5.a).  The standard implies that there was no teleological causation in the Earth’s past.  This is an assumption or hypothesis, not proven fact.

Page 30 (Grade 8, SC.8.10.5.b).  The standard assumes that homologies result from evolutionary relationships.  This is an unproven assumption that eliminates the possibility of teleological causation.

Page 30 (Grade 8).   Standards SC.8.10.5.a and 5.b relate to macroevolution (unguided common descent), and SC.8.10.5.c and 5.d relate to microevolution (adaptation or small-scale change within a species).  This distinction should be made, since micro is well-established but macro is an unproven hypothesis.

Page 30 (Grade 8, section SC.8.10).  These standards relate to biological evolution, which is age-inappropriate for Grade 8.  These standards should be moved to high school Life Sciences.

Page 37 (Life Sciences, SC.HS.8.3.b).  Change “elements” to “molecules” or “chemical compounds.”

Page 38 (Life Sciences, SC.HS.10.5.a).  This assumes that common ancestry (macroevolution) is true.  Evidence that infers teleological causation should be included.

Page 38 (Life Sciences, SC.HS.10.5.e).  Change “new species” to “new varieties.”  If a “new” species results from environmental change, it will closely resemble its predecessor.

Page 38 (Life Sciences, section SC.HS.10).  Standard SC.HS.10.5.a relates to macroevolution, while the other four relate to microevolution.  This distinction should be made.

Page 39 (Earth and Space Sciences, SC.HS.11.5.b).  Coverage of Big Bang theory is OK, but the standard is incomplete.  Add (a) the implication of the Big Bang (a beginning to the universe), (b) comparison with other hypotheses (steady state, multiverse, oscillating universe), and (c) fine-tuning of physical constants for life.

Page 40 (Earth and Space Sciences, SC.HS.12.1.b and 1.d).  Global climate models are known to be inaccurate and are often used to predict dire consequences for the future.  Either eliminate these standards or add precautionary language.

Page 41 (Earth and Space Sciences, SC.HS.15.4.e).  Note that human “modification” can be either positive or negative.

Ohio Legislature Nixes Multistate Consortia

Below is a guest article submitted by Bob Lattimer who is President of Citizens for Objective Public Education:

Ohio Legislature Nixes Multistate Consortia

By Bob Lattimer

On June 4, 2014, the Ohio General Assembly passed Am. Sub. H.B. 487, an education budget correction bill. The bill contains a provision that states: “When the state board [of education] adopts or revises academic content standards in social studies, American history, American government, or science … the state board shall develop such standards independently and not as part of a multistate consortium.” This in effect disallows the state from adopting the Next Generation Science Standards (NGGS), as well as any future multistate standards in social studies. In passing H.B. 487, Ohio asserts its right to formulate its own K-12 education standards.

H.B. 487 also establishes “academic standards review committees” in four areas – English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies. These committees are to review existing or proposed standards and statewide assessments for their appropriateness. Unfortunately, these seven-member committees will likely be highly political in nature, since the members are appointed by the governor, Senate President, House Speaker, state Superintendent, and Chancellor of the Board of Regents.

The legislature has also been concerned about a strong anti-Common Core movement in Ohio. In an attempt to ameliorate parents opposed to Common Core English and math standards, H.B. 487 contains a provision for each school district to establish a “parental advisory committee” or other method to review textbooks and other instructional materials. This requirement is unlikely to have much effect, however, since (a) most districts already have such a review process, (b) parental reviews seldom have much influence on selection of curricular materials, (c) districts are essentially forced to adopt instructional materials that are aligned with the state assessments, and (d) concern about Common Core goes much deeper than just textbook selection.

A strong anti-Common Core bill, H.B. 237, was introduced in mid-2013 by Ohio State Rep. Andy Thompson. This bill would effectively eliminate Common Core standards in the state, withdraw the state from the PARCC consortium, and institute measures to protect students and families from intrusive data collection. H.B. 237 has been stalled in the House Education Committee, due to the intransigence of committee Chairman Gerald Stebelton and House Speaker Bill Batchelder. The legislature is in recess until after the November election. There will be a short session at the end of the year during which the bill may still be considered.

On June 4, 2014, Rep. John Adams, Assistant Majority Floor Leader, announced that a “discharge petition” would be circulated to try to get H.B. 237 moving in the House. The discharge petition is a little used measure designed to address stalemates such as that engendered by H.B. 237. If a majority of House members (50 out of 99) sign the petition, the bill must be brought to the House floor for a vote. Rep. Adams and Rep. Thompson hope to gain the necessary signatures by November so that this important bill, with much grassroots support, can move forward.

Complaint Against Science Standards Filed in Federal Court

NGSS-Logo

(Topeka, KS) On September 26 Citizens for Objective Public Education, Inc. (COPE) filed suit in federal court against the Kansas State Board of Education and the Kansas State Department of Education to enjoin implementation of science standards designed for all students in the US.

The Complaint was filed in Topeka, Kansas, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas.  Other plaintiffs in the suit include eight families with children enrolled in Kansas public schools and a family that represents Kansas taxpayers.

The Complaint and additional information may be found on COPE’s website: www.COPEinc.org.

The Complaint alleges that the Kansas Board’s adoption on June 11, 2013, of A Framework for K-12 Science Education and the Next Generation Science Standards (the F&S) “will have the effect of causing Kansas public schools to establish and endorse a non-theistic religious worldview” in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

In May and June, 2013, COPE urged the Kansas Board to reject the Standards for the reasons set forth in its analyses dated June 1, 2012 and January 29, 2013.  However, the Board and the Department of Education declined to discuss or investigate the concerns expressed in the analyses.

The Complaint claims that the Standards lead students to ask “ultimate religious questions” like “where do we come from?”  Rather than objectively inform children about these questions in an age-appropriate manner, the F&S lead them “to answer the questions with only materialistic/atheistic answers.”

This indoctrination is driven by the use of a concealed Orthodoxy (or doctrine) called methodological naturalism orscientific materialism.  The Orthodoxy requires that explanations of the cause and nature of natural phenomena may only use natural, material or mechanistic causes, and must assume that teleological or design conceptions of nature are invalid.

John H. Calvert, counsel for the plaintiffs, stated that “this case is actually about a concealed Orthodoxy that requires all explanations provided by science to be materialistic/atheistic. It is particularly problematic in the area of origins science which addresses ultimate religious questions, like: Where do we come from?  Public education about origins science needs to adequately and objectively inform age appropriate audiences about the use of the Orthodoxy and the relevant information and data it suppresses.”  Origins science is a historical science that studies the origin and nature of the universe, life, and the diversity of life.

The Orthodoxy is not religiously neutral as it permits only materialistic/atheistic answers to ultimate religious questions.  The concealed use of the Orthodoxy in the F&S has the effect of promoting the core tenets of non-theistic religions like Atheism and Religious (secular) Humanism.

The Complaint describes other mechanisms and strategies used by the F&S to establish the materialistic/atheistic worldview.  These include systematic omissions and misrepresentations, teaching the materialistic/atheistic ideas to primary school children whose minds are susceptible to blindly accepting them as true, programs designed to cause the views to become habits of mind, and the implicit exclusion of theists from provisions that require education to promote “equity,” diversity and non-discrimination.

The Complaint asks the court to enjoin the implementation of the F&S or, in the alternative, to enjoin the provisions of the Standards that deal with the teaching of origins in grades K through 8 and in grades 9 through 12 unless measures are taken to teach the subject objectively so that the effect of the instruction is religiously neutral.

The case against the Kansas Board is relevant to all other states in the U.S.  The other states that have recently adopted the Standards must now consider whether they should proceed with the expense of implementing a constitutionally suspect program.  The same issue will confront other states that may be considering their adoption.

Inquiries about the complaint should be directed to Legal Counsel as follows:

John Calvert, Esq., 816-797-2869

Kevin Snider, Esq., Chief Counsel, Pacific Justice Institute, 916-857-6900

Douglas Patterson, Esq. 913-663-1300

Citizens for Objective Public Education is a not-for-profit Corporation.  Its mission is to educate the public about the religious rights of parents, students, and taxpayers in public education.  It seeks to do this by promoting objectivity in public school curricula that address religious questions in a manner that will produce a religiously neutral effect.

Kentucky Board of Education Public Hearing on Next Generation Science Standards

kentucky-flagThe Kentucky Board of Education adopted the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) on June 5.  Kentucky law requires a public hearing on new standards before they can be implemented.  This hearing is scheduled for TUESDAY, JULY 23, in Frankfort.  You can find out more here.

To give testimony at the hearing, the witness must inform the State Board at least five days in advance (i.e., by this Thursday).  Testimony may also be submitted in writing until July 31.

Dr. Robert Lattimer, President of Citizens for Objective Public Education (COPE), encourages concerned citizens in Kentucky to testify against the adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards.  COPE, Inc. offers their evaluation of the standards and talking points here.  I’ve written about NGSS here and here and here.