Home > Uncategorized > Another Sign of the ESSA Apocalypse: States Adopt Science Standards that Contradict Reality

Another Sign of the ESSA Apocalypse: States Adopt Science Standards that Contradict Reality

February 7, 2018

I am no fan of the common core, but I do believe that Bill Gates understood the need to nationalize standards in order to ensure that every child in the nation was learning a uniform set of facts. From my perspective, it is understandable that some topics might be contentious when trying to achieve a consensus. The causes of the Civil War, for example, are nuanced and complicated and agreeing on what to present to 5th graders on that topic might lead to heated disputes. But legislatures have no rational basis to overturn scientific consensus… and that is what the Idaho legislature did last year in response to the Heartland Institute’s desire to change the facts about global warming. As a result, the curriculum director for the state crafted a set of standards that thread the needle on the issue, making it certain that Idaho children will learn about global warming even though they might not learn the real causes of it. NYTimes reporter Livia Albeck-Ripka writes:

The battle started in early 2016, when Idaho was working to update its decade-old science standards for kindergarten through 12th grade, which outside education groups said were out of date. Lawmakers rejected a new set of standards, which were closely modeled after national guidelines developed by a consortium of states and science organizations and included information on climate change, saying more input from the public was needed.

Last year, the House education committee accepted the new standards, but only after scrubbing five sections related to climate change. The passages about climate change were “surgically removed,” said Glenn Branch, deputy director of the National Center for Science Education, which monitors anti-science legislation.

Now, (Scott Cook, the director of academics at the Idaho State Department of Education, who helps lead a committee of teachers, parents and scientists urging that climate change be included in the standards) has reworked those passages in an effort to win approval from lawmakers. The revised standards include natural causes of climate change alongside those driven by humans, and, in response to lawmakers’ requests, they emphasize potential solutions to climate change.

“The committee took a true course between the rocks on one side and the whirlpool on the other,” Mr. Cook said, describing how it had been difficult to strike a balance between language that was scientifically accurate but was satisfying to lawmakers. Where the original standards placed a stronger emphasis on human activity as the primary cause of climate change, the revised standards note that both “human activities” and “natural processes” can affect the Earth’s temperature.

“Although this is not exactly untrue, to say this in the context of a discussion of ‘current changes in climate’ is to suggest a significant role of natural activities in current climate change, which is misleading,” Mr. Branch said in an email. Still, he said he hoped the revised standards would be approved.

Historians could argue over the root causes of the Civil War, but there are some hard cold facts that are unalterable: the dates of battles, the generals who led their respective troops, and the ultimate victor. But when it comes to science, there IS no debate over the existence and cause of global warming except on the fringes. Those causes may well be an inconvenient truth and they may be championed by environmentalists who tend to be “liberal”, but the causes are unarguable— except in legislatures where denial seems to be the order of the day.

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